Bnjara is a platform for all the travel-obsessed souls out there. No, it is not just another Online Travel Agency. Bnjara, as the name suggests, is truly for the nomads of this world, who’re curious to explore unique locations and soak in culture-rich experiences.
Bnjara is a travel company with a difference. So what sets Bnjara apart?
Bnjara offers unique experiences of experiential travel. To travel is not to simply visit a new place, look at key tourist sites and eat at famous restaurants. Bnjara is proud of assisting you to live and breathe the soul of your destinations.
How do they achieve this? Well, all of Bnjara’s trips are based on travel accounts and stories of actual people. The company associates with a great number of bloggers who are travel experts. It fosters a community of adventure-junkies and other travel enthusiasts. All Bnjara’s itineraries and packages are formulated with the insights collected from this community.
Thus expect nothing but unique bespoke experiences. Expect to truly live the lifestyle of your destination, soaking all that the place is truly about. Talking to locals, discovering hidden gems and devouring the country’s age-old secrets. Also surprise trips (destinations are decided by Bnjara and kept a secret) that come to your door one day before your departure!
From skiing to yoga classes, from popular European tours to the unheard destinations of Tashkent and Baku, explore the unexplored with Bnjara. All this while truly living the place at all times!
Bnjara is not about rigid itineraries catering to specific interests and age-groups. Their focus is on the customer experience – whoever so it may be. They understand you and your tastes on various levels to design the most apt experiences specifically catered for you.
In conversation with the creative genius behind Bnjara, we unfold what the company is all about. The founder speaks to Inventiva up and personal, sharing Bnjara’s value systems, USP and future goals. Read on to find out what he has to share with our readers.
1. What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
Bnjara is the name we set out with and around which we have built a brand now. Bnjara is inspired by the Hindi word – “Banjara”, which means a ‘Nomad’. Banjara’s were a community of nomads that originated from the Rajasthani areas.
It was a name suggested by my mom when I had first told her about our whole concept. I think it encapsulates the vibe of being a wanderer beautifully.
2. Who is your target Audience/clients?
We offer a flexible customized approach to each of our clients. Our services and itineraries differ based on specific segments of the Indian demographics. Thus from solo travellers to adventure junkies to blue-chip companies, any and all can be a target client for Bnjara. We’ve had an enriching experience working with all of these distinct types of clients since our very inception.
3. Where is your venture based? What are your geographical target areas?
Bnjara is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Our primary geographical target is to cater to the Indian travel markets whilst scaling up in the rest of the subcontinent.
4. What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or
Bnjara arrests one of the biggest issues the customers face while booking for upcoming travels. Most online Travel Agencies today too, are solely functional offering nothing really experiential at all. These impersonal websites do not talk about local insights of destinations or experiences that a traveller can look forward to. This makes the whole customer experience quite dry and mechanical.
However, Bnjara thrives on customer experiences. Our desire matches that of our customers i.e. to nurture a family that is eager to share, explore, learn and marvel at the magnanimity of this world, together. Our trips are curated by an active community of travellers, travel bloggers and adventurers. Thus you can be sure of a fail-proof joyous holiday designed on the basis of accounts of actual people.
Our products and services cover an extensive range. From flights to hotels to cruises to a weekend in an unknown destination! We believe in going the extra mile to ensure only the best for our patrons.
5. Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it come to existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
While I was planning my own family trip on one of the most popular OTA sites, I realized the impersonal nature of the whole process. It exposed the problems I myself was facing and brought to surface an apparent need in the market. The trip planning/booking process just blatantly lacked the passion and lustre it deserved. I decided to venture into this space to correct a few things in my own small ways. One of my biggest motivations is to challenge the status quo that isn’t updated with time and age.
6. Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
Since our very inception, we have believed that our biggest ‘competitors’ have been our biggest teachers. We have built a unique value system that doesn’t look at others in the same space as competitors. We, in fact, learn from our experienced peers in the industry to grow Bnjara even further. In a way, Bnjara believes that we’re all playing our parts in optimising and developing the finer aspects of the travel industry.
7. How did you hire your first team members? What skills do you look for in your employees/team?
As a bootstrapped start-up we lacked efficient structure and technical proficiency. As a sole founded company, the skill, I was looking out for in potential candidates was the willingness to acquire multiple roles at work. This was the focus during our initial hiring agendas.
If I recall, our first office was somewhat shack-like which would flood up during the rains. In fact, sweeping out water while simultaneously handling a client call was a common sight in monsoons. The only thing that kept us going was the insatiable desire to know more and more about this market.
The most important skill that we look out for is the ability to multitask efficiently.
8. What expansion plans are you looking at in the next 5 years?
We’re set to raise the first round of investment in the coming months. This is to spearhead our upcoming expansion projects. We aim to expand vertically in the Indian subcontinent and internationally in at least one other continent.
We’re also in the process of prototyping and developing a few tech applications that shall resolve key pain points of travellers. These will help open more avenues of growth in this industry.
9. Where do you want to see yourself in the next 10 years?
Within the next 10 years, we see Bnjara going public and launching as an IPO.
10. What are your immediate goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
Our immediate goal is to record a 5% per week growth. This, though hard has proven to be possible at Bnjara. Our aim is to ensure this consistent week-on-week growth for at least the next 10 months before we’re prepared to take on the newer segments of the market.
In a couple of months, we should also be able to test our tech-applications in the market that we’re finishing up currently. This shall equip us to approach our audience better and cheaper.
11. Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for funding?
No, we haven’t raised anything from investors yet. We launched as a bootstrapped start-up. We shall be raising our first round of funding in Q3 – Q4 this year.
12. What were the problems you faced during the initial days and how did you resolve them?
One major issue I remember facing was bridging the expectation-reality gap of our users. We were brainstorming ways to present an amalgam of useful information and a personalised experience alongside. We decided to start small but not be conservative in terms of developing and implementing new technology.
However, we realized that the users were being lost for guidance in the midst of all the information. They were too overwhelmed to make a choice or a purchase.
We resolved this problem-area by identifying the smaller details about the clients. Alongside collecting these details, we designed the user experience. This, in turn, became the backbone to the advanced recommendation engine that we’re currently developing.
13. What has been the most challenging part of your journey until now? How did you overcome these challenges?
The biggest challenge I faced was that of managing the additional responsibilities that come along with being a sole founder of a start-up. There was a multitude of varied business functions that I would personally need to look into myself regularly. From managing accounts, taxes and revenues, to structuring workforce, finances, and compliances etc, balancing all of these out appropriately was a challenging task.
I was lucky to eventually build an amazing group of co-workers to rely upon. With a great set of employees, I could focus on those essential aspects that required my personal inputs to a larger extent.
14. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
When I’m not working, I’m usually on my desktop, playing the FIFA. I also love playing the guitar. I like to read sometimes. On weekends, I enjoy ‘Café-hopping’, if that’s even a word…
15. Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
My ultimate inspirations are Mr Ratan Tata, Mr Elon Musk and my late grandmother.
16. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
The biggest point of difference to me is that as an entrepreneur, it’s not just about you and your family anymore. Your company is also the bread earner for your employees. One learns to put their team ahead of themselves.
Thus as an entrepreneur, you begin to take responsibility for your team as your family. You begin to gauge your performance from a cumulative perspective.
17. If you had a chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Well, I’d probably just start sooner. In fact, much sooner! On looking back, I wish I started my professional career when I was a 12-year old.
18. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
I come from an extremely supportive family. Post Bnjara, I don’t get to spend as much time with them as I used to before. However, they have been super accommodating all along. My social life is quite still the same. I’ve always had 3 close friends neither of which I met much either ways. Today’s too that’s the case.
19. Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
Always listen closely to an unhappy customer. They’re your most valuable source of learning. And keep innovating. Customer feedback should be the basis for all your innovations and services.
20. Tell us something about your education & family background.
I’ve studied Architecture. I hail from a highly educated and career-oriented family. My mom, dad and grandfather are all certified nuclear scientists.
21. What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains?
All our trips are curated by an active community of travellers, adventure junkies and bloggers. Our trips are based on real-life experiences of avid travellers. Thus we are not like other solely functional OTAs out there. We ensure the quality of experience that you’d be embarking upon by basing them on real-life accounts.
We keenly promote the concept of responsible tourism and inspire others in the industry to do the same.
22. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & start-ups today?
I’d say the dearth of capital Investments and the lack of appropriate mentorship.
23. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Absolutely not. Success seems an arbitrary thing that you never fully achieve to your own satisfaction. It is an ongoing process. There is always more to learn, grow and achieve.