Rahul Chandra, Managing Director, Helion Venture Partners speaks on how RailYatri has achieved positive unit-economics and monetised business
About 20 million people in India travel on train on a daily basis but face serious gaps when it comes to critical information like train arrival time and ticket confirmation. In 2014, Kapil Raizada, Sachin Saxena and Manish Rathi launched, RailYatri app, a crowdsourced support platform to provide real-time information on trains, enabling rail passengers to take smarter travel decisions. The USP of RailYatri’s app lies in its accuracy of information - the big data intelligence emerging out of live updates – instead of relying on published timetable that is hardly reliable.
Helion Venture Partners is the largest stakeholder in RailYatri; the company is also backed by Blume Ventures, Omidyar and most recently, Nandan Nilekani. With the experience of backing early disruptors in the online travel space – MakeMyTrip, RedBus and TaxiForSure - Helion was attracted by RailYatri’s potential to bring large impact in a sector that has a huge user base and is plagued by unorganised information. The company is also solving a real problem that is inherently Indian and is beyond top tier.
We speak to Rahul Chandra, Managing Director, Helion Venture Partners speaks on how RailYatri has achieved positive unit-economics and monetised business.
How has RailYatri demonstrated the ability to drive organic user acquisitions at near zero costs, achieve positive unit-economics?
RailYatri has tremendous discovery through app stores because of a large number of people looking for train travel related apps. The information availability in formats that are easily useful and of course accurate is a highly demanded need. The app has high rankings on the app stores based on customer ratings and feedback.
How is RailYatri monetizing its business? Can you tell us about the company’s growth strategy?
RailYatri is offering intelligent options to travellers to look at their journey as a set of purchase options. The uniqueness of train travel in India is the combination of inconvenience and uncertainty. The commerce offerings are providing relief in these two areas. Some of these options require RailYatri to provide a curated set of service providers and some as a matchmaker to the best solution.
What is the marketing strategy of RailYatri?
RailYatri is targeting users for whom train travel is an integral part of life and figuring how to make it predictable and comfortable. Like the user whose wife and newborn baby are travelling and he wants to make sure that warm milk is available. Or the user whose aged parents are travelling or a user who needs to travel to a city for an interview at the last minute. Trains and bus travel is a lifeline for its users and RailYatri wants to keep working on how to deliver value to such users.
What attracted Helion to invest in RailYatri?
Train travel information is conspicuously absent from many routing applications because no one has mapped trains like RailYatri. Tens of millions of users need to stay updated on this. People are just becoming aware of the scope of this and we are glad we realised early and made an early investment into the company.