Interaction with DJUBO founders
ABOUT THE COMPANY
Q: What does the word DJUBO mean actually?
A: We have basically invented the word DJUBO. It doesn’t really mean anything. We wanted something which signifies a product name, and specifically a software product. But we needed something exceptional and definitely something which doesn’t include words like room, hotel or rate in the name. The programming language we used for developing the software was called DJANGO. So we used DJ and O from it, and the Techies in the company played with the word DJANGO and we finalized DJUBO.
Q: Given the burgeoning growth of travel marketplaces and top online travel aggregators, we have seen how hoteliers have garnered almost 40-50% jump in business via web. So, what was the main challenge DJUBO sought to solve? What is the vision of this company?
A: In the hotel landscape in India, only 20% of the hotel inventory is visible online even today inspite of all the noise OTAs and Aggregators are making. 80% is utilizing either very little, or no technology at all and are not online. 90,000 hotels in India will miss out on the internet and OTA bandwagon if they are not given the right tools to make use of this opportunity. Tools which are designed keep their mindset, pain points and behaviour pattern in mind.
The main challenge that DJUBO faces is trying to ease this large percentage of the hotel industry into the online market. Given our huge growth and success in penetrating this very price sensitive and less savvy market just within the last 6 months, it is proof of the fact that we have got our target market, product and feature set right. We are now used by close to 1000 hotels across 120+ cities in India and we already manage and facilitate close to 2000 room nights every single day which is bigger than many OTAs in India. We sit very deep in the entire tech value chain and solve a fundamental part of the entire hotel landscape in India.
DJUBO’s vision is to be the dominant travel intelligence and distribution player across the country by providing small hoteliers with high-grade occupancy yield along with the ability to automate their hotel sales, thereby giving them enough time to focus on long term differentiators for their business like their service standards and property upkeep.
Q: What’s the underlining approach of DJUBO which separates it from other competitive players like Hotelogix, Reznext, Mycloud hospitality?
A: Hotelogix is a Property Management Systems. Property Management systems only take care of post arrival operations of a hotel. They do not help hotels get extra revenue or help him manage his sales or distribution of inventory and rates. Also products designed as Property Management
Systems haven’t found great footing or growth in India so far because small hoteliers are not worried about their hotel operations much because the services they offer are limited to rooms and breakfast only. Products which are designed as a property management system but add distribution and revenue management as an afterthought through third party integrations, face a triple whammy in the Indian small hotel industry. Firstly the user experience is disjointed and not seamless enough to be able to do a good job of managing distribution and operations through a single interface. Secondly, their get priced out of the market completely. Thirdly, third party integrations are not stable and result in syncing issues and poor after sales support for clients.
Reznext started with 2400 clients which were using IDS Property Management systems because they offered Reznext as a free channel manager to all these hotels. But since its a competitive tech product with many ongoing architecture issues, keeping a sustainable business model is difficult and certainly brings the downfall in properties. Market is maturing more for solution providers offering an entire product suite like DJUBO rather than standalone channel managers.
Mycloud hospitality is a small player which we have not heard much of in the market at all so far and we have been really active all over the country.
Q: How does this product select channel partners (OTAs)? Is this feature automated or manual?
A: We don’t select OTAs. The Indian consumer has selected OTAs which are important for India by lending their traffic and business to a bunch of 9 OTAs which cover practically 99.99% of the Indian online travel market. So it’s easy for us to identify which OTAs to integrate with. OTA integrations are encouraged by OTAs and free of cost because OTAs also want the entire hotel industry to move onto real time distribution platforms like ours.
Q: How is the one-year-old collaboration with Ashish Kashyap, chief executive of Ibibo Group has resulted?
A: The one-year collaboration with Mr. Ashish Kashyap has been an amazing experience. He has been a great asset who has a great deal of insight into the industry. He brings with him a great deal of energy behind anything he does and has brilliant ideas.
Q: Are you planning on company’s expansion or some other branching plans for development or acquiring more funds?
A: We have just kicked off the process of raising funds to the tune of $ 15 MM. We will be using these funds for penetrating India deeper and to expand internationally.
ABOUT THE FOUNDERS
Q: What made you switch from Finance to Hospitality?
A: Hospitality was initially not chosen by me but rather a forced decision I had to make in order to stabilize the family business. After observing the current hotel landscape, I figured that a great hole existed in the tech landscape for small hotels and that is when Sankalp and I got together and started DJUBO.
Q: What were the other choices, if you would not have started DJUBO?
A: I used to be a private equity investor for 6 years before founding DJUBO. I would have continued being a Private Equity Investor or a Venture Capital Investor. I was toying with ideas of opening up chains in hospitality or some similar business model. I also had to start an e-commerce startup in mind.
Q: What is your Life’s Motto!
A: When you start calling something your life’s motto, then it seems like there is a definite end you are trying to achieve. But there is no end state in my mind, I can’t be stillest at any point. The most motivating thing about this journey is that every day brings a new challenge and opportunity to seize. There are larger goals in life, like expanding the existing organization internationally, solving the problems of hospitality entrepreneurs, becoming an important player in overall tech platform, having a service model in this business and so on.
Q: Who is your ideal entrepreneur?
A: I had read Lee Iacocca, one of the ex-CEO of Ford Motor’s autobiography like 10 years ago, that has left a huge impact. I would consider him as my idol.
Q: Any word of advice for new entrepreneurs?
A: Young entrepreneurs today only think about the end result, but not about the journey that takes them to their dream. In order to succeed, don’t just sit at home, but look past your failures and pursue your goals with relentless persistence. Opportunities and problems exist all around us. It takes courage to see a problem, own it, solve it and transform the world forever.
Q: BSc in mathematics and then post grad in computer application, two different fields altogether. Why did you choose to switch to Computer Science?
A: Not really! Both the subjects are analytic and Computer Science is a subject which I absolutely loved from the very beginning of my life. The only reason for doing math honors was that I did not get into any good engineering colleges. I was preparing for getting into an IIT. And as the fate goes, I decided to Computer after my math honors. And math goes really well with the Computer Science because both are analytical and technical subjects.
Q: Why did you choose hospitality of all the sectors?
A: I have a family business in hospitality. My father and brother run it in Missouri. I have grown up seeing them run this business since 1984, pretty much the time I was born. So hospitality held a special place in my heart, though Technology was my career by choice when I grew up.
Q: How did you come to find DJUBO?
A: Tarun and I are schoolfellows in Missouri itself. Tarun also has a family business in hospitality, and when he went back to his family business, he was really into it and that’s the time we started thinking about this concept. As I have both hospitality and technical background, he thought I would be aware of certain things which could add value to the concept we were thinking about. And we started researching if there is any product in the market like DJUBO to fill the gaps in hospitality. We were in a really nice position; timing wise, skill wise, and resources wise to actually go ahead and build something like this. After I quit my first and last job in 2009, I started a software development company by the name of Kranti development services. With support of that company, we had all the resources, all the technical expertise and proper domain knowledge. So we thought why not go ahead and actually start the first cloud based platform in India dedicated to hospitality?
Q: What type of an entrepreneur are you?
A: I like to work with the team, I can’t be rude or strict while dealing with people. I like being a part of the team. The team members, whom we are currently working with, are mostly the same age as mine or they have shared some experience with us. So we all know each other for a very long time and it is more of a friendly relationship with all the employees. I personally like to motivate them and contribute to their growth in any way possible. So if there are any junior employees I try to sit with them and make them learn whatever I have learned in my life. So I try to depart as much knowledge as I can to them.
Q: What drives you to work?
A: If you are working for name, fame and money, then that’s not going to take you very far, especially in troubled times when you are just starting up. If you want to start up something just because you want to earn a lot of money, that’s not going to help you get very far. But if you are starting up something because you really feel the need to do it irrespective of whether you will be successful or a failure, then that ends up rendering patience in your character. You are in for a long haul then. Just don’t give up very soon.
Q: What is your life’s mantra?
A: Well, patience is the key to everything. One has to be very patient and fast at the same time. Keep working, keep rolling out, keep developing and don’t stop irrespective of all the challenges in your way.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur in hospitality?
A: To have some prior experience in hospitality is a must. Knowledge of how the industry works, standard terminologies used is important to get the pulse of the industry. People working in this industry have some specific characteristics in terms of their behaviour or attitude. So if you are well aware of these things that would be a great help.