Hail the travel Guru
Young entrepreneur from city co-owns Tripoto, a platform to share travel stories that gained 30 million users in just five years
By Heather Cecilia Phanwar
He is young, he is handsome and charming, he is talented and he is the co-owner of a start-up that has raised over $9 billion.
Michael Lyngdoh, the boy next door, is among the young entrepreneurs in the country who are showing the way to independent careers. The 33-year-old co-founder of Tripoto, which is one of the leading Indian travel portals, gave up a high-paying corporate job to pursue his dream—to be free. So in 2013, he and Anirudh Gupta, another like-minded traveller who also quit his job, started the travel website with seed money of $400,000 from industry stalwarts like Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal (Snapdeal founders), Sachin Bhatia (co-founder of Make My Trip) and others.
“Planning a vacation is a complex process wherein you visit multiple platforms, ask your friends and family for recommendations and spend hours trying to figure out where to go and what to do. It’s painful and frustrating. However, it should be something you look forward to doing. Moreover, most of the information you find is transactional in nature,” Lyngdoh told Sunday Shillong in an email interview.
“When I met Anirudh at ISB (Indian School of Business), we talked about our love for travel. We realised that there was no single platform to discover real authentic itineraries from like-minded travellers. Once Anirudh and I identified this need and the pain-points we wanted to solve, we decided we needed to create Tripoto,” he added as he explained the need to start the venture.
Lyndoh, the youngest of three siblings who grew up in Shillong playing football, cricket and golf, said he grew up with strong values of a Khasi mother and the entrepreneurial tenacity of a Punjabi father and always craved for “autonomy and personal impact”. He has always been an outdoor person and loves travelling and Tripoto was a natural phenomenon for the entrepreneur, now based in Delhi.
However, the hectic work schedule and the immense responsibility to forge ahead in a competitive market have forced Lyngdoh to give up many things he enjoyed. “I wish I had more time to travel,” said Lyngdoh and added that whenever he gets time he travels with his wife, besides following the EPL, hitting the gym and reading.
Talking about Tripoto, Lyngdoh, an alumnus of St Edmund’s School, was overwhelmed by the “phenomenal response”.
In a short time the company has employed over 80 staff and has acquired over 30 million users. The number of users has grown 200 per cent yearly and revenue by 300 per cent per annum.
Delhi-based Tripoto also has small teams in Bangalore and Mumbai.
“We are overwhelmed and humbled by the positive feedback that users give us on the quality of the experience, interface and content on Tripoto. At the same time, we’ve had great support from investors and mentors in the industry,” said the enterprising young man.
For users, Tripoto offers an unbiased and open platform for everyone to publish and read high quality travel related content. This can be kept like a private diary, shared on social network or with the public depending on what one wants. The portal has celebrity and professional writers, sportspeople and millions of travel enthusiasts who write on the platform to share their tips, tricks and recommendations related to travel.
It is our dream that Tripoto becomes the Number 1 travel platform in the world by 2025. More importantly, we want Tripoto to inspire more Indians to travel not only within the country but also to explore the world. Currently, around 20 per cent of Indians travel, if inspiration and travel
planning help from Tripoto can boost this number up by 5-10 per cent in the next 10 years, we would’ve achieved our aim
Michael Lyngdoh | Co-owner, Tripoto
“For clients, we are the Number 1 brand in travel media. We combine strong editorial capabilities with technology and smart analytics, to leverage the massive shift from traditional media to content marketing. Our traffic numbers and quality of content provide a huge opportunity for tourism boards, travel agencies, and brands reach out to a vibrant community of frequent travellers and deliver a higher return on investment than traditional media,” Lyngdoh gave an insight into the qualitative aspect of the travellers’ platform.
However, Lyngdoh did not deny the challenges strewn on the way to success and “the biggest challenge was staying optimistic and resilient in the early days before we knew it would be successful”.
Also, “technology changes quickly and we need to be ahead of the curve and have a pulse on what users want”, he explained.
On why the duo felt the need for a comprehensive travel portal, Lyngdoh said, “We live in an age of information and social media. As incomes grow and travel becomes cheaper, more and more people have access to go to places they’ve only heard of in the past. At the cusp of these two factors, Tripoto must exist to bring travel stories from people like yourself to you so that you can make informed and exciting travel choices. I saw the need for a travel based social network and knew that I had to solve it.”
Tripoto is among the several travel portals and it becomes imperative to innovate and offer something new to viewers and the duo are aware of it.
“Our greatest strength is our users. The quality of authentic user generated content on Tripoto is unrivalled. The reason our 30 million plus users keep coming back to us is our wonderful user experience and easy to use interface. We work hard to make sure our product stays superior. We also have the benefit of a highly engaged community and have more than 2 million social media followers and monthly engagement of more than 100 million,” Lyngdoh said.
“It is our dream that Tripoto becomes the Number 1 travel platform in the world by 2025. More importantly, we want Tripoto to inspire more Indians to travel not only within the country but also to explore the world. Currently, around 20 per cent of Indians travel, if inspiration and travel planning help from Tripoto can boost this number up by 5-10 per cent in the next 10 years, we would’ve achieved our aim,” he added.
On the present scenario of startups in India, Lyngdoh identifies three factors which make the country conducive for new ventures — talent and hard work, large user base and numerous problems which remain to be addressed.
At the same time, he also points out the road blocks, especially with regards to ease-of-doing business. “Luckily, in the last few years there has been a cohesive effort by the public and private sector to encourage the startup culture which is really encouraging.”
Lyngdoh and his companion are inching towards becoming a name and have already been featured by a men’s webzine. When asked what would he have been doing if Tripoto had not happened, Lyngdoh said, “I can’t imagine my career as anything other than a start-up founder now. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a professional footballer!”