Deep Karla started MakeMyTrip which became a $3.5 billion company

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MakeMyTrip has been instrumental in quenching the thirst for travel since the year 2000. Headquartered in Gurugram, Haryana, the company provides online travel services including flight tickets, domestic and international holiday packages, hotel reservations, and rail and bus tickets.

The startup is owned by MakeMyTrip Limited which is its parent company. As of 31st March 2018, they have 14 company-owned travel stores in 14 cities, over 30 franchisee-owned travel stores in 28 cities and counters in four major airports in India. MakeMyTrip has offices in New York, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Bangkok, and Dubai.

Its unique selling proposition is ‘Affiliation with a large number of tourism entities leading to easier bookings and an effective online booking portal.’ The company goes by the tagline “Dil toh roaming hai.” The target segment of the startup is Internet users looking to book tickets online or travellers who use the Internet for online transactions.

One of the earliest market entrants, MakeMyTrip is a trusted online booking portal as well as a travelling consultant. This has become possible because it employs the use of safe, secure and trusted channels for facilitating payments. It also has an International presence in the business scenario.

MakeMyTrip has not only earned itself an attractive brand name but also allows convenient website navigation. It offers services like International and Domestic Air Tickets, Holiday Packages and Hotels, Domestic Bus and Rail Tickets, Private Car and Taxi Rentals, B2B and Affiliate Services.

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In 2012, MakeMyTrip launched travel mobile applications for Windows Phone, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices. MakeMyTrip route planner provides all the basic required information on more than one million routes in India. MakeMyTrip was founded by three people: Deep Kalra, Keyur Joshi and Rajesh Magow.

Under Deep’s stewardship, MakeMyTrip is today the largest e-commerce business in the country and the largest travel company in India and listed its shares on NASDAQ in August 2010. He also serves as a Board Member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Delhi and is an active Angel Investor in the internet space. Deep is a founding member of “I am Gurgaon” – an NGO focused on improving the quality of life in Gurgaon.

Prior to his entrepreneurial venture with MakeMyTrip, Deep has had corporate stints with GE Capital, AMF Bowling Inc. and ABN AMRO Bank. Deep holds an MBA (PGDM) degree from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. His interests include swimming, yoga, quizzing, adventure sports and, of course, travelling.

Keyur Joshi is the Co-founder and Chief Strategic Advisor of the company and an integral part of the MakeMyTrip strategic think-tank. Keyur was instrumental in jumpstarting the online travel market in India in 2005, through MakeMyTrip. Apart from being a Co-founder, Keyur has provided oversight to various functions and held various positions at MakeMyTrip including that of Chief Commercial Officer.

Before founding MakeMyTrip, Keyur worked with Around the World Travel (now called JustFares.com), transitioning it into an online B2C travel company. He has also worked with Tata Motors, where he was involved in Market Research and Product Management. Keyur holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Gujarat University and an MBA degree from the City University of New York, New York. He is also a certified pilot and doesn’t miss any chance to take to the skies.

Rajesh Magow is the Co-Founder and CEO-India of MakeMyTrip.com. A member of the founding team, Rajesh has served in many senior capacities with the Company. He held the role of CFO and COO before taking on the CEO role. As CFO, he was the chief financial spokesperson for the Company and responsible for the overall financial health, acquisitions, investor relations, securing of new funding and regulatory compliance.

As Chief Operating Officer, he provided strategic and operational leadership to support all business functions within the Company along with opportunities for cross-leverage and critical company investments. Rajesh has been instrumental in the successful transition of MakeMyTrip into a public listed company after its listing on the NASDAQ in the US in August 2010.

Its IPO was executed in record time and ranked as one of the best-performing IPOs in the US in 13 years, with shares soaring over 80 per cent after listing, catapulting its valuation to over $800 million on day one. Within 9 months of IPO, in June 2011 Rajesh also managed a successful Follow-on Offerings of $125M comprising of secondary and primary. Post the IPO and follow-on, Rajesh spearheaded the M&A function under his active leadership.

Rajesh has over two decades of corporate financial and operating experience in the information technology and internet industries. Prior to joining MakeMyTrip, he was CFO and acting CEO for the India operations of eBookers.com, now part of Travelport. He started his career with Voltas and has also worked with Aptech Limited, Quantum in senior management positions.

Rajesh is a recipient of several awards including the Bloomberg Award for the Best CFO in India. He also served as an Independent Director at FlipKart.com, India’s equivalent of Amazon.com and a leading e-tailing company. Within MakeMyTrip, he also mentors the senior management team and high-potentials. Rajesh is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, New Delhi. His interests include playing cricket and badminton, and his best stress-buster – time with family.

While elucidating how the company got a head start but faced a tumultuous set of years following its inception, Deep Kalra said, “The first year of MakeMyTrip was a fairytale. We got early-stage funding, and launched the site in October 2000. But in mid-2001, we were hit by a triple whammy – the dotcom meltdown, exit of venture capital from India and the 9/11 attacks. The next couple of years were the toughest. We could not find anyone willing to invest in us. We shrunk the team and went completely bootstrap. These tough times helped bind the team together. We survived because we decided to focus on the NRI market, as the domestic travel segment was not buying online.”

MakeMyTrip raised a total of $548 million over five funding rounds. They got their first funding of $10 million on the 1st of May, 2005. On December 14, 2006, they raised $13 million in a Series B funding round. The lead investors were Helion Venture Partners and Sierra Ventures. Tiger Fund invested $15 million dollars on October 7, 2008, in a Series C funding round. On 8th January 2016, Ctrip invested $180 million in MakeMyTrip. In their latest funding round which happened on the 3rd of May, 2017, they raised a total of $330 million.

Deep went on to talk about the recovery of the company post the dotcom crash, 9/11 attacks and the SARS outbreak. He said, “While we broke even in 2003, the turnaround really happened in 2004, when Low-Cost Carriers (LCC) launched in India. As travel agents did not book tickets on LCC flights, we became the travel agents for these carriers. It was a symbiotic relationship-they needed us and we needed them. The timing of the launch of low-cost flights could not have been better for us. Then Indian Railways launched online ticketing and did a lot of evangelical work for online booking, which helped us a lot. Ordinary people realised it was safe to book online. We had decided, during the tough years of 2001-03 when we were not getting any funding, that we would never again go to venture capital funds. But in 2005, we decided to raise funds to finance growth. We were very lucky to find a partner in SAIF Partners.”

The startup earned a total revenue of $675.26 Million during 2017-18. It has a total of 3051 employees. The MakeMyTrip app has been downloaded more than 10 million times on the PlayStore.

In 2016, MakeMyTrip and Ibibo Group, India’s largest travel booking portals, merged through a stock transaction. Through this transaction, MakeMyTrip acquired its rival, Ibibo Group, in one of the biggest acquisition in India”s online travel space. Post-merger, MakeMyTrip shareholders own a sixty per cent stake and Ibibo Group shareholders get a forty per cent stake. Naspers and Tencent, who jointly owned Ibibo Group, became the single largest shareholder in MakeMyTrip.

Deep further talked about the steep growth of the company, “The growth then on was fantastic. Consumers realised that now they were not at the mercy of a travel agent. They could book tickets online on their own. We decided to go public in 2010 and had a lot of internal debate on whether to list in India or in USA. The fact that the US market had a greater appreciation of Internet ventures was the deciding factor. It was much more work and it cost more, but the experience was worth it. We wanted to raise $70 million, but we had excess of $1 billion in collections by the close of the issue. The response was beyond our expectations.”

MakeMyTrip has received a large number of awards like Best Travel Portal, Most Preferred Travel and Holiday website, Best Travel Innovator, to name a few. MakeMyTrip’s major competitors include ClearTrip, Yatra.com and Travel Guru. In 2016, MakeMyTrip and Ibibo Group, India’s largest travel booking portals, merged through a stock transaction.

Through this transaction, MakeMyTrip acquired its rival, Ibibo Group, in one of the biggest acquisition in India’s online travel space. Post-merger, MakeMyTrip shareholders own a sixty per cent stake and Ibibo Group shareholders get a forty per cent stake. Naspers and Tencent, who jointly owned Ibibo Group, became the single largest shareholder in MakeMyTrip.

MakeMyTrip has definitely made travel a cake walk. The gruelling task of making reservations and hotel bookings has now become possible at the tap of a finger. Wouldn’t you prefer using MakeMyTrip over traditional ways of making bookings? Please tell us in the comments section below.

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Vasundhara Dhadiwal
I'm quite gauche, tbh. I despise texting abbreviations and Internet acronyms and the fact that I find myself guilty of using them every once in a while. I study mass communication and photography gets me by. I am as old school as they come. I devour books while a plate full of food is waiting to be eaten. Life is quite okay but I struggle with the in-betweens. I'm just a regular girl but I believe that I'm going to be a very big deal someday.

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