STARTUP STAGE: Travel platform Mapathink targets Southeast Asia

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Mapathink started offline by selling fully customized travel packages to B2B agents. Now the startup is creating an online platform through which it plans to scale at a rapid pace. By disrupting the fragmented ancillary services market, Mapathink’s founders say they are looking at a huge addressable market.

Founded in January 2020, the New Delhi-based company has seven employees.

What is your 30-second pitch to investors?

Our mission is to be the one-stop solution provider in the travel segment for Southeast Asian countries. We achieved $350,000 in gross revenue within the first year of operations by providing fully customizable bottom-to-top destination coverage.

The Mapathink team comprises seasoned professionals who have in-depth knowledge of Thailand, Singapore, Dubai and Maldives. Our end-to-end integration at the back end allows us to make travel effortless for all parties involved.

Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.

Having started offline by selling travel packages to B2B agents, we tested our hypothesis regarding the acquisition of customers by means of backend integration. Now that we have proven fully customized packages are a reality, we are in the midst of creating our online platform through which we can scale at a rapid pace.

Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.

Strengths: Our offline platform is travel agent friendly and reliable, and we offer competitive packages for our clients. Plus, with our focus on ancillary services, customers can have a holistic travel experience.

weaknesses: As a startup, Mapathink doesn’t have the same level of brand recall or market presence as larger competitors, which is something we are trying to mitigate by basing our operations only in specific regions.

Opportunities: By disrupting the travel ancillary services market, which at this point is fragmented and largely undigitized, we are looking at a huge addressable market. For example, the airlines earn a combined revenue of over $100 billion from their ancillary activities like seat selection and meal options.

threats: Our greatest threats at this juncture are external factors that could hinder or prevent us from executing what we want, like a pandemic; and being unable to meet the market demand because at the moment our resources are limited.

What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?

From a B2B perspective: By streamlining processes and tapping our sales team’s knowledge, we are trying to significantly reduce the time required for a travel query to be processed and final itinerary to be generated.

From a customer’s point of view: We are offering solutions at each step – be it ride hailing for the trip to the airport or getting their visas processed in time – thereby adding value and alleviating hurdles in their path.

So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?

Our initial customers came from our co-founder, who utilized his contacts and connections to get the ball rolling. Slowly over the next few months we started getting more agents who wanted to work with us thanks to word of mouth. Now we are at a stage where digital and other forms of marketing, combined with publishing, are required to take us to the next stage of expansion.

Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.

We conducted extensive surveys and analyzed several data sources from which we have derived data, proving that the market size for Indian travelers remains huge and they are keen to visit the aforementioned destinations.

How and when will you make money?

We are already making money through our B2B business from travel agents. In the 10 months or so since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, we have made $350,000 dollars in gross revenue. Plus, most of Mapathink’s packages are profitable so we have a positive EBITDA.

What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?

The founding team consists of three people:

Arijeet Sikdar, CEO, is an ex-entrepreneur in the spiritual e-commerce startup sphere and a recent MBA graduate. Arijeet has more than six years of experience across roles in diverse industries and expertise in different sectors, including banking and finance, B2C and retail.

Alok Ratan, chief strategy officer, is a travel domain expert with more than five years of experience. Alok has primarily been involved in Southeast Asian markets.

Anjul Mittra, CFO, has more than eight years of practical experience serving clients in multiple industries such as manufacturing, import/export, fitness, transport and hotels and tourism.

How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?

Because we are based out of India, a pretty diverse and inclusive nation, we set our policies keeping our customers in mind first and foremost. We are extremely careful about sticking to their specific requirements and traditions so that they can enjoy a new culture without pitfalls. Furthermore, our employees follow different customs, and we have tailored our employee policy with them in mind. Similarly, for our suppliers and other partners, we follow a code of conduct to put them at ease.

What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?

Being bootstrapped, achieving our targeted rate of growth and expansion without external capital has been the toughest challenge for our business so far.

Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact – so why are you going to be one of the lucky ones?

Through our bottom-to-top approach, regional exclusivity, matching customers with destinations – along with the Indian startup ecosystem – we believe we can make an impact not just in our home country but also globally.

A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?

We predict Mapathink will have raised capital and become profitable, thereby delivering value to our shareholders.

What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)

Our endgame is to grow and ultimately go public.

PhocusWire’s Startup Stage

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