Profit from Price, Always – The Bootstrapped Story of RateGain

This is part of our “Podcast with a Product Entrepreneur” series. Do check out the 30 minute podcast!

His first fling with business was a video game exchange, while at school. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, the question was never about the “Why”; it was only about the “When”. A computer science and finance graduate, his stint with Deloitte saw him starting up with a technology consulting business that later led him to this technology product idea.

Meet Bhanu Chopra, the Founder and CEO of RateGain – a B2B price comparison SaaS product for the travel industry –  as he talks about starting up, go-to market strategies, the CNBC Award, challenges and some priceless advice for all software product entrepreneurs.

In business, Bhanu has demonstrated tremendous agility by making quick decisions. His initial idea of a price comparison website focused on the US market, quickly morphed into a B2B offering, given the challenge of marketing to US out of India. Then by licensing technology and acquiring a few beta customers, he not only validated the idea, quickly, but also generated revenues for reinvestment.

Bhanu advocates a Go-To market approach built on two parameters:-

  • Power of a Brand built on thought leadership, where Bhanu humbly accepts being “late in the game”
  • Sales Structure customized to the channel and prospective customer personas


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Straddling across the hospitality value chain with RateGain, Bhanu sees tremendous opportunities for existing products as well as newer products on pricing optimization using Big Data and predictive analytics.

Also an angel investor, Bhanu recognizes the tremendous passion amongst product entrepreneurs but highlights the imperative to persevere and think about the global market. While the team is critical, he concedes that team building would always be a challenge for product companies in India, given the latency of IT services in influencing engineering talent.

We conclude the interview with Bhanu mentioning two of his favorite product companies – Google and ….. – an awesome data visualization company that is just about to IPO on NASDAQ. If you haven’t guessed the name, do listen to the podcast.

I didn’t have a Job, when I graduated. But, I was clear about Entrepreneurship – The iXiGo Story

It was an early December late afternoon that Avinash and I got together to interview Aloke Bajpai, the Co-Founder and CEO of iXiGO – one of India’s most loved travel websites. Whether you are trying to save an extra rupee by comparing air fares across portals or planning your next trip with that saved money, Aloke’s iXiGO will GO with you.

As I sat in the reception area waiting for Aloke and Avinash, a board with many yellow colored A4 size posters caught my eye. It was actually a timeline that told the story of iXiGO. Starting from 2006, the sequence of posters talked about the many successes iXiGo achieved over the years. It looked easy. Or was it? It was time for the real behind-the-posters story.

Listen to Aloke’s story(Podcast) of perseverance as he describes his tumultuous iXiGO journey in this exclusive podcast brought to you by the good people at ProductNation.

Aloke’s fling with entrepreneurship began in a business plan competition while he was still studying electrical engineering at IIT Kanpur. It took the 2000 dotcom bubble burst to get him onto the conventional job path.  Starting a career with Amadeus – a European technology travel company – Aloke realized in a few years that work wasn’t exciting. He says, he was done with code. And as he puts it, he took the “Indian Solution” of doing an MBA.  It was at INSEAD that he decided to take a serious shot at entrepreneurship taking courses pertaining to entrepreneurship and was lucky to find an iXiGO advisor in his Professor – Patrick Turner.

Aloke’s stints at Amadeus and INSEAD seem scripted, for it is here that he met his co-founders Rajneesh (Amadeus and IIT Kanpur) and Yash (INSEAD).

In the podcast, Aloke talks in a free spirited way about how one fine day – he just left his job. A quick move to Gurgaon was followed by figuring out what to really do and how iXiGO came about. He shares how his INSEAD batchmates seeded the idea on good faith and how a brave trip to Singapore got them their first serious investor – William Klippgen. This after their idea had been politely refused many times over (read as no response) by a number of angels and VC’s. Hear from Aloke the sense of exultation when they did get their first smart money.

Good times don’t last long so much so for the King of Good Times. The 2008 credit crisis and a renegade potential investor almost brought iXiGO to the brink. iXiGO not only survived but grew stronger since none of the employees left after the consensual 50% pay cuts. iXiGO’s business model was validated during that time as travelers were looking for best deals using price comparison.

These days iXiGO is busy with the Travel Planner. Aloke describes how the idea came about and how they leveraged a set of early adopters to fine tune their market offering?

When it comes to team building, Aloke’s been a success. He stresses the importance of being transparent, involving the team in creating and owing new initiatives and gives some sound reasons why each employee needs to read all customer feedback. This man is sure going places.

Don’t miss the podcast. The secret is right there. If you have a 55 minute car drive, look no further, you have got the perfect companion – Aloke Bajpai of iXiGO on your car music system. Just in case, you don’t, check out the iXiGO trip planner for some 55 minute drive options.


Three Podcast Links Worth Checking Out

I was listening to the podcast – Happiness. Todd Kashdan, Eric Lambin, Eva Hoffman. 22 Dec 2012.  Some ideas from the podcast:

  • Learn to be curious. When we are curious, we like to explore, discover things. Exploration helps us grow, evolve.
  • Happiness depends on the ability to tolerate pain ( it never occurred to me to link happiness to pain)
  • Invest in relations – having a sense of connection with other human beings increases happiness
  • Happiness is related to the way you experience time
  • Happiness is also related to the way you experience experience

While listening to the podcast, I heard two other links mentioned, which are worth investigating.

I hope you enjoy these podcasts as much as I do. Did you find others, you like? Please share them.