The inspiring story of The RedBus
What’s a success story without a little failure or without a little loss? Who remembers success without a little struggle and who enjoys the growth without a down fall? Such is the story of Redbus and its owner- who transformed the whole travelling field. Travelling in bus was a real tough task, but with the advent of online booking- the procedure has turned out a lot easier than before. And Redbus.in is an online startup who has made this scenario transform brilliantly.
The journey started from a scratch!
It all started when the co-founder & the CEO of redBus, Phanindra Sama could not meet his family on a festival back in 2005. Despite the huge efforts of the travel manager; he couldn’t find a seat to go. Sad, when he came back he got the idea of making the booking process easier. Initially he wanted to do it as a part time and with some of his college mates, Sama started working on this, not knowing the fact that this small idea is actually going to make such a big difference. He realized some key issues with the then-existing bus model and found internet as the best medium for solving these issues by putting together information on a platform where customers could access it easily and take better decisions. All of them together with a little funding of Rs. 5 lakh which they have saved on their own- started building the portal. After completing the project they went on to several agents to sell their idea but none agreed on. They were refused several times and after thousands of No, came their first YES in 2006. The manager agreed on to the idea but gave them a deadline that they have to book at least five seats within a week, if not he won’t bother again. They worked hard in selling the tickets themselves and first chose the IT companies to distribute their redBus cards to the employees during lunch hours. On 22nd August, 2006, they managed to sell their first seat to a woman who was working with Infosys and also managed to sell the rest of the four tickets within the five-day span. Soon the business started flying. They were shocked on such a massive response when the agents themselves wanted to collaborate for free. But in the year 2006, they got a major leap when they got selected for the TiE Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program. They gave them three mentors to advise them on what to do and how to start a business of their own. These mentors taught them how to run a whole company including monitoring all the buses, their routes, average pricing and the customers association as well. In February 2007, they got their first ever funding from SeedFund of INR 30 million. Now their business was expanded, they covered at least 5000 routes with 500 partners. They covered almost 15 states from North, West and South India. To make the business more lucrative they introduced more and more packages. It now had 75,000 partner outlets and offers ticket booking services from the mobile via SMS and phone. It also delivered the tickets home and earned a gross revenue of INR 30 crore annually. At the same time unfortunately the 30 million they had raised, were used up. The second funding was a little tough to find but with the help of SeedFund, they managed to raise their second funding from Inventus Capital Partners & other unnamed investors- USD 2.5 Million. And thus similarly they raised another funding in 2011 of USD 6.5 Million.
Today they have 250 people working for them in 10 offices — Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Coimbatore, Pune, Delhi, Vizag, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Vijayawada. Along with that they also had seven physical call centers, three satellite call centers and tickets were home delivered in 10 places. With such immense growth and popularity redBus had managed to clock USD 120 Million in gross merchandise value in February 2013. In June same year, they announced that they had sold the company to South African media giant Naspers through its Indian subsidiary, ibiboGroup, for around Rs. 600 crore. The company was named amongst the world’s 50 most innovative companies, alongside Apple, Facebook and Google by business magazine.
And just like this the friends kept on performing well, in 2014 they introduced hotel booking as well- which made the portal even more fascinating. Today there’s hardly anyone who don’t know about redBus. Me, you and everyone has booked at least one ticket from them without knowing the actual story behind the initiative. How an idea of a part time work turned out to be multi Dollar Company. Stories like that of redBus inspires us that hard work and dedication actually pays off when you are courageous enough to face the failures and rise above them.