Dave McClure and Bloomberg Capital have announced an investment of $1mn in mygola, a India+US based travel planner startup. mygola provides answers to specific travel planning related questions – how do I get from the airport to the hotel? Will my phone work? Can I rent a stroller in Amsterdam? etc and relies mostly on technology and 10% on human curated answers.
Our approach is simple – you ask any question about your trip, and one of us will do all the research & bookings for your trip! We then turbocharge this by:
1. Having tens of thousands of travel enthusiasts sign up and train to become travel researchers.
2. Building an amazing technology platform that aggregates the entire travel web and auto-categorizes it – deals, events, hotels, sublets, even tips from locals on foursquare and your friends who’ve recently been there.
We call this the 90% tech + 10% human insight approach. [mygola].
Essentially, mygola starts where SEO focused travel planner ends. From our earlier rant, Customer Focus : Why Indian online travel space is not with it, mostly:
The trouble is, the users are looking to travel for a purpose, and the journey/hotel is one piece of the whole experience. They want to be assured of a certain quality and wants a no-hassle experience. And all that’s on offer is inventory, with some lip gloss on top by way of an interface, and possibly sorted by this or that.
What about the guy who wants to fly to Delhi from Madurai and may be open to combination of either a bus+flight or a train+flight ? From either Chennai or Bangalore. What about the NRI-in-India-for-a-month traveling to 3-4 destinations who’d hire a car, a cell, take a couple of domestic flights, perhaps a holiday to some destination while here, maybe even love to have a data card ?
Your users are looking for very different things. Playing “agent” for a ticket transaction, or a hotel reservation, is hardly what I’d call sticky, or a customer delight strategy.
What is the value that you’re creating ? For OTAs – and there are almost as many as airlines – its even fuzzier these days without a deal or discount. Not long term at all, I’d imagine.
And please do not talk to me about the reduction in your cut as a benefit – I really could not care less about that!
Though mygola competes with local tourist guides, focus on technology is what differentiates them (as opposed to consulting services provided by tourist guides). Surely an interesting startup to watch out for.
Important to note that mygola is started by Anshuman Bapna, who earlier started and sold his startup RightHalf when he was studying in IIT Mumbai.