In a world where everyone is running behind the money how good it is to see that someone is following the passion and finding peace and satisfaction in the work they do. Such is a story of Shally and Anurag who took the word wanderlust too seriously and started creating new memories for themselves and others.
So let’s hear their story in their words.
Tell us something about you and your startup.
Travelers, by default. We have been called by a lot of names… Nomads. Explorers. Vagabonds. Adventurers. Wayfarers. Gypsies. Wanderers. And we’ve adopted them all. Away from the busy roads as we continue to wander and reincarnate, ROOTSVIDA is a company led by travel enthusiasts designed with the dream to travel, try new adventures and explore through various experiences. We offer a gamut of theme-based trips so you can spend less time searching and more time dreaming about where you’ll go next. From rafting and camping in Rishikesh to road tours through Ladakh and Spiti and trekking through Bhutan, we offer meaningful and immersive experiences for the nomadic soul searching for adventure with a side of local flavour. We are two founding members: Anurag Chauhan and Shally Makin who left their corporate career to immerse into the world of experiences. The team of Roots has been working since March 2014 to build and strengthen India’s first experiential travel marketplace with a bouquet of 100+ holiday itineraries to offer. With its unique content, Roots unique approach is reflected in the happiness quotient of its users and its positive customer reviews.
What was your motivation behind venturing into this?
So we were one of the people who thought –
- I want to have more stories in my life.
- I want to explore new places,
- It is hard to find my travel buddies with same interests and same schedules
- It is expensive to travel comfortably because I am alone
- I lack expertise in planning a trip
- I am extremely careful of my safety
- I do not have many friends
- I am always looking for new adventures and experiences
- I can be a solo traveller but I want to meet new people too.
- I just want a break !!!
A 9 to 5 job was limited to our desk and colleagues knowledge, but we wanted to learn from places, people, challenges that came our way and sometimes just to know what best do we have in us. It started with a hunger to flee away to pastures, looking for some meaningful life. Convincing our friends to travel became a routine. However, no plans made their way to any destinations. We met, shared our love for travelling and came together to fill the gap in the industry for people who are looking to travel in a group and experience what we call ‘Living Life’.
Give us a brief background about founders and its core team members?
Having done her Masters in Clinical Research, Shally started her career as a healthcare journalist and then a travel bug bit her. She served as a Communications Manager to a philanthropic organization working in education, but her heart kept wandering in the hills, playing in the sandy beaches and eating the best puchkas while listening to old stories about havelis. It is this belief combined with her wealth of experiences in creating the best travel journeys that excited her to start Rootsvida.com, join The Walking School Bus (TWSB) as the Expedition Leader- India and become a Delhi – Chapter Lead for Travel Massive – A global Travel community.
Anurag, the man from the mountains is born to wander and ride. From being an economist, a NIFTian, to working as a Brand Manager for well-established companies like Future Group and Arvind Lifestyle – his heart never stopped looking out of the window and his mind never stopped thinking out of the box. Left his corporate career in Mumbai, returned to his hometown to come up with the weirdest ideas of travel. A dreamer, A nomad and A storyteller – he talks to the winds, waves at the trees, chase the sun on his bike.
Who do you see as competition and how is your startup different?
Our every tour is crafted differently in terms of – its culture, cuisine and history. Roots have never been stuck to one type of touring. We believe that every place has its own feel and vibes, and we mean to totally immerse into it. Offering an experience to become one of the locals, we try to make a difference by creating a traveller and not a tourist.
Especially, the accommodations chosen for every trip are carefully chosen that reflect the essence of that place, we eat local food and explore the hidden gems. Our every trip is accompanied by the team members, who make sure that everyone on the tour is comfortable and become one of them rather than a guide to them. One of the unique factors is to know each of them closely and expand our vision to
better understand life. Most importantly, once the traveller is on board with us, he doesn’t have to worry about anything. All of the logistics are arranged by us. After being in the sector for four years, we are sure of one thing – even if the traveller likes the place or not, it is for sure that he will take back some great memories and great friends.
There are a number of travel companies today who offer trips and packages and each one of them are looking to offer something that’s beyond and different. But we focus on nurturing a traveller than a tourist.
What are the revenues and margins like in your industry?
Earlier people used to think travel is just about booking hotels, and going to sightseeing places and eating good food. It’s not. When we started Roots, we began to learn what is beyond these three elements. Within three years, we now have generated virtually every idea behind the products we’re selling today, and we’re still working on that original inventory of concept trips that we plan to offer. We made our new concepts and list and began working on it. Today we have grown five folds since the inception. So, we still have a long way to go.
Revenue is directly proportional to sales and the kind of products you are selling. In travel, there will be a single product with a package of INR 2000 to a lakh sold by the same company and therefore the revenue will depend on what is the company selling more, hence quite subjective.
Margins are subject to the strategy whether you focusing on qualitative or quantitative aspect. They are two different game plans and the margins lie between 5 to 12 percent depending upon the strategy company operates on.
What are your future plans?
Travelling in India is changing drastically now. If we talk about masses, earlier it was like visiting holy
shrines and temples with the whole family. The other times you would just holiday when you are on a honeymoon. There is a new wave that has now broken all the stereotypical destinations of travel. People now want to explore with an instinct – “Ki yaar kuch alag karna hai”.
They want to try everything. This idea gave birth to backpacking trips, visiting offbeat places, travelling on a minimum budget. But this budget is in correlation with the kind of experience too – This means he [the traveler] doesn’t want to stay in an amazing property and pay 4k to 5k a night, but yes he is ready to spend 20k to hire a bike and roam around. So in simple words – “People now want to spend on experience”.
This is where we come into play – ‘We are going to create different experiences for the people.’ We will be adding more routes which are less travelled like Jaunsar Bawar valley, introduce caving as an experience and develop international products like magnolia. We have recently launched a festival dedicated to explorers called the Underground Festival that primarily brings the tribe together.
We would soon shortlist tour leaders who are experts in leading various experiences and give them a platform to interact with travellers and suggest the best trips as per their interests.
Any advice you want to give budding entrepreneurs.
Travel is so much more than just ticking off your bucket list and boasting about your achievements. For us, travel is all about the experience. It starts right from the time you book with us to the moments that can change your life. Roots is a way of life! We are responsible of our clients’ most valuable asset — their personal time. So, we do not like calling ourselves as just another travel company but we tout ourselves as ‘experience junkies.’ And this goes for every entrepreneur until you make your product your life and experience like a customer, you will never be able to improvise or offer the best in the industry.