Entrepreneurship is a life, not a career

Article published in YourStory.

All the world is full of suffering; and it is also full of overcoming, reminds a quote of Helen Keller. Interestingly, the story of some of the successful enterprises can be traced back to how the founder underwent suffering, and then decided to launch a solution that addresses that pain-point. In the case of Karthi Easwaramoorthy, President and Co-founder of TicketGoose.com, it was a hassled bus journey from Erode to Chennai that led him to join his friends in starting the enterprise, as he shares the tale with YourStory. Read on.

Story of the company so far

I was living in America from 1997 to 2011 as a software professional working with multinational giants like Hewlett-Packard, Oracle Corporation, Sun microsystems and Tibco Systems. When I was vacationing in India in 2007, I wanted to meet my friends, Arun Athiappan and Vasu Ramasamy, in Chennai. But that meet turned out to be prelude to launching online bus ticket portal TicketGoose.com together as co-founders.

Since I love road journey, I tried to get a bus ticket to Chennai from my native place, Erode. Having been used to easy ticket-buying options in America using the Internet, I went through a lot of difficulty in buying the bus ticket. When I shared this ordeal with Arun and Vasu the next day in Chennai, they too agreed that bus ticket-booking was indeed a tiresome process. Hence the idea of online bus ticket-booking struck us so as to ease the task for commuters who prefer road journey and bus travel.

This gave birth to “TicketGoose.com” in the year 2007. So far, our journey has been eventful personally and professionally as our online bus ticketing solution TicketGoose.com, has been able to solve the problems of millions of people till date aggregating close to 1,000 bus operators with 10,000 routes and 20,000 buses. Having grown with TicketGoose.com from 2007, I can confidently claim that we are the first portal which introduced the best user interface in comparison to the existing portals. E-commerce is all about usability. Our focus is in pixel level, not in feature or in page level, of precision to bring the best of ticketing booking experience to the world. New look-and-feel was introduced two months back which has made it possible for us to acquire more customers. Our existing loyal customer base is thrilled about this new and user-friendly way of presenting tickets graphically which does not exist with our competitors. Hence we have been able to keep our customers happy and satisfied and we will continue to do so as we have several innovative ideas in the pipe-line.

Challenges in your industry, and outlook for the near- to mid-term

Despite having a number of challenges we are not anxious. Commuters had to undergo a lot of hassle while booking bus tickets 5 years back. We took that as a challenge and we believe we did a pretty good job in accomplishing that mission of making bus ticket booking easier and fun.

Although bus is the primary mode of transportation in India, and Internet, broadband, smart phones, tabs, credit cards and Internet banking spread like wildfire, only less than 10% of bus booking happens online. This is the biggest and foremost challenge of this industry, which is not just specific to us. Our bus market size is massive, but the addressed size so far is very less. But we at TicketGoose.com are determined to take our world’s best ticket-booking solution to Indian people, build trust that transactions in Internet and mobile are safe and less time-consuming. I believe the Indian people will buy that idea. Because, we Indians are the smartest people on Earth! We are always open to change. We are the people who supply intelligent workforce across the globe in the IT field. India is the only place on this planet which produces smart engineers, technicians, doctors, academicians in tons. No country is closer to what we are today in terms of intelligence and smartness. Our people are connected like never before. So outlook is absolutely so bright. This outlook overshadows any other challenges we have now. We bet on people and customers by providing consistent value, service, support and best usability. Mid-term outlook is bright that at least three different big players like TicketGoose.com can coexist and be profitable simultaneously, along with smaller players.

Plans, going forward.

We are working on a number of plans. Every plan that we put together is customer- and operator-centric. In the same line of challenges described in the previous question on market space penetration, there are several challenges that are being faced by bus travellers and bus operators on a daily basis which are yet to be addressed.

Giving you a simple scenario I faced last week. I had bought tickets for my family to my native place. The departure time was 10:30 pm and I left home with my family 1 hour before the departure time at 9:30 pm only to be told by the operator that the bus would be delayed by an hour. Imagine the situation of managing two kids till 11:30 pm in that crowded boarding point. Not only me, but the entire boarding point was also chaotic. Every customer was restless, tensed and lost the interest of enjoying that bus journey.

Ticketgoose customers like me understand that departures can get delayed due to unavoidable circumstances like traffic, road accidents etc. But if I had known that bus was going to get delayed at 9:29 pm, i.e. just a minute before leaving my home at 9:30 pm, I could have started one hour late so that kids could have stayed within the comfort of the home. Note, as I did not know that delay information just a minute before leaving home, it spoiled the whole mindset of travel. This is being faced by almost every customer travelling by bus.

Now TicketGoose.com understands the importance of that crucial one minute. Every TicketGoose customer should have the relevant travel information like delay in departure just 1 minute before they leave their home in this particular case. We call customers having that crucial information 1 minute earlier than needed, the “1 minute advantage”. Every TicketGoose customer should enjoy that 1 minute advantage. We are determined to give that 1 minute advantage to all our customers so that they can enjoy the journey. We are working on a plan and it needs some final touch-ups. With the help of people in the boarding point and operators, every TicketGoose.com customer would be having that 1 minute advantage shortly. This is a huge and ambitious plan that we are working on.

Take another case of operators. They know that bus is half full just 1 hour before the journey. At the same time, many customers stayed home as they did not get a cheaper train ticket. If operators inform the customers that they reduced the price by half, just 1 minute before they go to bed, several new customers would have boarded the bus. This way, the operators would have got their new first-time customers who would have been loyal to them for a lifetime. Imagine the life time value that particular customer gives to that operator. Operators cannot afford to lose even a single customer in this competitive bus landscape. So we are determined to give that 1 minute advantage to our operators to broadcast their last minute offers to bring new customers on board.

Our pressing plan now is to give “1 minute advantage” to bus travellers and bus operators. New ideas are shaping up, and everyone will have 1 minute advantage using our innovative solutions shortly.

Lessons for entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship is a life, not a career. One day you feel lonely and insecure. Another day, you feel that you are can conquer the world. Yes, every entrepreneur should dare to dream with the undivided hope. Before taking up entrepreneurship as your choice of life, you have to find an industry which will suit your personality, knowledge and skill set that you have acquired in the past. You have to solve the problem which you have gone through personally. The harder part is differentiating between a feature, a product and a business. If you can understand the thin line between those three, your probability of success will get enhanced.

A feature is an action to solve a particular task. A product is a collection of features to solve an issue. Business is all about giving value to your customer consistently using the product. Of course, customers should be willing to pay you back like they produce enormous content in social media using their time in the case of E-commerce. If you can clearly see the big picture of product road map and its value to customers, then you can find ways to convert that into a successful business story. Keep dreaming daringly. Keep equipped with skill sets to fit the pieces of puzzles that come along in your business journey. If you don’t solve, who else will?

Any other points of interest

The term “Corporate” has always fascinated me. Human life is like a prepaid card with limited life time which will ultimately get expired. No one has a life card with unlimited validity. Before our card expires, we should build a corporate which lives beyond our life and share that experience with the budding generation.

Students are the pillars of tomorrow who have unlimited ways of thinking. Those students should be nurtured, motivated and guided in the right direction. As I am passionate about sharing my life’s journey with students, you can contact me at karthi@ticketgoose.com if you are willing to hear the story of “TicketGoose.com”. I will be more than happy to come by and share my experiences in your college. I hope my story and experiences in life will encourage you to start your journey right away.

When we started TicketGoose.com, we took Mr Narayanan, who is the founder of Gum India Ltd and a serial entrepreneur as our mentor. He is the man who moulded us and ignited the passion of dreaming big. All of us should have a great mentor like Mr Narayanan. Keep searching till you find your mentor who will encourage and guide you to achieve your dreams.