redBus, also known as redBus.in, is India’s largest online bus ticket and hotel booking company. The company also sells tickets through offline outlets. It has offices in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore,Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. It was taken over by the Ibibo Group, a joint venture of South Africa’s Naspersand China’s Tencent in June 2013 for $138 Million (INR 800 Crore).
It all started when the co-founder & the CEO of redBus, Phanindra Sama could not meet his family on a festival. Phanindra and electronics Engineering graduate from BITS-Pilani was happily settled with electronics job at Texas Instruments in Bangalore, while his family put up in Hyderabad. It was during Diwali of the year 2005, he wanted to celebrate the festival at his home town, Hyderabad. Since this was a last minute plan, taking a bus was the only option. He ran from pillar to post hunting for a ticket, but they were all sold out. Bangalore traffic is notorious and can grip you at the wrong time. That’s exactly what happened that day. All these instances led Phanindra to understand the flaws with the existing models and he could draw the following conclusions:
1. Travel agents don’t have all the information regarding all the possible bus operators. This lead to a gap and customers had to take decisions based on limited information.
2. Most of the agents are not able to sell return bus tickets.
Based on all this information Phanindra along with his friends Sudhakar and Charan thought of the possibility of solving these issues by putting together information on a platform where customers could access it easily and take better decisions. The internet was the best medium to deliver all this information and make possible e-commerce to purchase return bus tickets. That is how redbus came to existence.
They got a major boost and a much needed push for the decision when they were selected by TiE. They were selected 1 month before they launched their service, enhancing their confidence in the decision. TiE accepts rolling nominations for the program. Which meant you could apply to the program anytime. Once they get good number of nominations, they call for a in person presentation to TiE charter members. If selected by the members, you get about 2-3 mentors assigned. These mentors, depending on their bandwidth, help you with day to day working of your startup.If you didn’t like any of your mentors, you can ask for a replacement. All this is done for free by TiE. If you like, you can voluntarily give some stocks in your company to your mentors and TiE. Once they were selected by TiE, they sarted getting calls from Venture Capitalists. They went ahead with an early stage investor because they invest a lot of time in mentoring and grooming your company and that’s what they required back then. The 2nd round was raised last year. Inventus and Helion were investors. This helped their company grow.
The redBus’ CEO, Phanindra Reddy Sama was recently selected by Endeavor as a high impact entrepreneur. Also, Businessworld voted Phanindra Reddy Sama as one of the top 5 most promising entrepreneurs in India.RedBus has crossed the four-crore (40 Million) mark in the number of tickets sold in July 2015 as of date. It has over 2 million registered users and is rapidly approaching the $300 million GMV (gross merchandize value) mark. The company lays a lot of focus on keeping their costs low. In May 2013, RedBus began running their first series of Television ads.
Awards and Recognition:
- Winner of Mobile Innovation in Travel – 2014 [Eyefortravel]
- Most Innovative Company of the Year – 2014 [Business Standard]
- Awarded the Marico Innovation Awards – 2012
- Received the Porter prize award at IFC Mint Strategy Awards 2012
- redBus technology was amongst the top 5 winners of the prestigious CIO Asia Award in Singapore in 2011
- Amongst the top 5 startups to be watched in 2010 by Forbes Magazine
Looking at this story it is apt to say that “Success doesn’t just come and find you, you have to go out and find it.”
So happy travelling!!