Deepak and Vineet have known each other for over 11 years now. They met while traveling and touring the countryside on motorcycles in mid 2000s and they’ve been traveling ever since and have done over 500,000 miles together in bikes and SUVs. They have also been part of biking clubs in Mumbai in the past together even holding office positions. One of the motoring clubs was heavily involved in social activities pertaining to children and women.
Vineet and Deepak are so passionate about their biking that they even have names for their respective steeds – Laetitia and Thea. One being a 350cc Electra and the other a Classic 500cc. Having tinkered enough; they claim that they can fix any part of the bike with or without the tools!
In 2015, while chatting over some Old Monk this idea took some shape while the idea for ScoutMyTrip was in the works for a while because both love road trips. Giving the customers a taste of their expertise is something what the team at ScoutMyTrip brought to reality through technology. And for this, the founding team brought on board Neeraj Sinha – an avid road tripper himself and a technologist with over 20 years of experience as their full time CTO. Neeraj with his team have been investing a lot of time on predictive analysis and data science which are the next frontiers in the space of road trip planning. Incidentally, Neeraj too is a biker and he fondly calls his steed (TB500) – Toothless; inspired from How to train your dragon.
After the idea stage, it’s all about the research and the team spent a lot of time studying the market; over and above speaking to actual travellers and the community they were part off. Road trips aren’t just about roads, but it is also about pitstops on the way from petrol pumps to places to eat, from restroom breaks to keeping exact change at toll booths; there is either a lot of information out there – or very little. Not to mention the unpredictable road conditions. And that is the reason why Indians spend close to 1 billion hours planning road trips in one year. A traveller has to first traverse 17 touch points to make a road trip plan; and still deal with uncertainties and no friends on the road.
When one looks at the travel space today – it is flooded with online travel agents, offline travel agents, 80% of all online transactions are mostly on flight tickets; and the burgeoning market is in excess of $140 billion. That is a huge market; and the road trip space is exciting because 60% of all vacations today are either a road trip or involve a road trip.
For this, ScoutMyTrip wanted to give their customers a user-friendly platform that addresses all of this. Getting this information before a road trip, makes the journey smoother.
To address the market and cut through the clutter, the founders built a freemium product that allows its customers to plan an entire trip using a single planner. One can mark their points of interest on the route and then embark on a journey. Travellers can also hire from a marketplace of scouts on ScoutMyTrip to build itineraries and virtually assist a traveller throughout the trip and completely curate the road trip as per one’s interests. Therefore, they talk of one of their USPs – Mark & Embark, where you mark on the planner and embark on a journey of a lifetime.
Their vision is to make road trips predictive, planned and perfected. Thus, taking the load off the customer at nominal prices.
ScoutMyTrip has been able to design a planner that isn’t just for navigational purposes. They’ve have created a separate category for road trip planning. By using the planner one can plan a road trip from anywhere to anywhere in India. They can find route options, suggested itineraries, places to stay, restaurants and more such finer points that go into planning a road trip.
With a freemium model, a traveller can plan a trip any number of times with a free lifetime account with ScoutMyTrip. All one needs to do is sign up for free and use the smart planner for life.
But if customers choose to hire a Scout to do the same; they will need to pay a subscription fee depending upon the duration, distance and other factors. You can find more information here: https://scoutmytrip.com/hire-a-scout
The focus of the start-up is how it revolves around community and technology. Be it community of travellers or Scouts for that matter. This collaboration helps deliver the best on road experience.
When one looks at the unicorns of today – be it Zomato or Ola or even OYO; there is one thing in common – they all created employment on a scale unheard of before. The number of Indians who have started earning a lively hood is one of the aspects which make them so revered now.
ScoutMyTrip wants to bring about that revolution in travel, empowering everyday travel experts to go to the next level by becoming Scouts. Scouts are not travel agents; they are people who know more than just a resident and have travelled enough to help others.
Road trips are all about personal recommendations and advice from real people. It’s just not as simple as booking a flight ticket or a hotel room. No matter, how much information you provide online; people still need a safety net of a real person being around and available – hence Scouts!
The biggest competitors to this industry and not just ScoutMyTrip are airlines and railways. They make up over 80% of all travel spends in India. Then it’s also Google Maps which is best when it comes to giving route options to its customers. However, it only helps one with navigation and nothing beyond that. Unlike the ScoutMyTrip planner which lets you plan the whole trip with just a few clicks.
If you look at organizations, globally ScoutMyTrip competes with roadtrippers, withlocals, getyourguide etc. They are slowly creating a mark in India. In India, their main competitors are travel ventures which curate experiences; because road trip is the experience, they curate either through technology or by hiring Scouts.
Over the next three years, ScoutMyTrip is planning to heavily invest time and resources in AI and machine learning, an always on experience and building the next road trip super app which brings it all together!
The Scout marketplace is going to be a global phenomenon; which is one of the reasons why ScoutMyTrip has even been invited by Digitaraya, an accelerator program powered by Google Developer Launchpad in Indonesia to expand business in South East Asia.
ScoutMyTrip is a recognized by Startup India, incubated by NASSCOM’s 10000 startups and won the prestigious Maharashtra Startup Week award in 2019. In January 2019, ScoutMyTrip also made it to the top 50 startups to watch out for in 2019 in the authoritative list released by Entrepreneur India.