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Idea is to standardize, improve consumer bus travel: Sumit Gupta

Co-founder of Yellow Pedal Sumit Gupta is trying to revolutionise intercity bus experience for travelers. Their mission is to deliver state-of-art customer experience, at affordable price. Their vision is to give the customers a reason to travel by bus, rather than private car or rented vehicles. INCUBEES asked how it will help the pocket and the environment with less pollution and roads congestions

INCUBEES: Tell us about your or services?

SUMIT GUPTA: We are building an offering that focuses on improving the end-to-end passenger experience in the intercity bus services segment, by taking care of a large number of factors that impact passenger experience, like the quality of hygiene, hospitality, amenities, boarding experience, etc. Passengers can book our bus service from marketplaces like RedBus, Paytm, etc., as well as from our website. The idea is to standardize and improve every aspect of consumer bus travel in a way that’s scalable by creating different modules that can be replicated easily.

INCUBEES: What makes your services unique especially from your competitors and what competition do you see in India and globally?

SUMIT GUPTA: Our proposition is unique in the sense that we are the only company that is truly focused on improving the end-to-end customer experience in the intercity bus service space.

Our competition largely consists of traditional bus operators or state bus transporters, and they are not necessarily equipped to meet the increasing level of consumer expectations.

There are huge gaps in the consumer bus travel segment in terms of customer satisfaction and we are approaching the problem with a unique model which balances quality of experience with potential for scalability.

There are a lot of startups in this segment, but also we don’t see them as fundamentally different from traditional bus operators, as we see huge limitations with their model.

As of now, we are laser-focused towards the Indian market.

INCUBEES: What are the challenges you see in the market at this point of time?

SUMIT GUPTA: The spread of covid-19 has obviously slowed down our progress at this point, but we also see this as an opportunity, because this is a good time to build deep relationships with operators, improve our technology and focus on building a brand. The consumer acquisition costs are low at this time, and the intercity bus services segment has started to pick up. So, we are quite optimistic about the immediate future.

In the long term, even when the market picks up fully, there is likely to be more awareness about hygiene and cleanliness, so there will be greater opportunity to differentiate ourselves from traditional players and build a household brand, which really bodes well for us.

In some sense, this is what I like about being an entrepreneur, where others see challenges, we see opportunities.

INCUBEES: Tell us about your team and what inspires them?

SUMIT GUPTA: Interestingly, our entire core team consists of people with entrepreneurial experience, which makes it really easy to keep the needle moving even in challenging times. We have people in the team with significant experience in the bus travel industry as well as in technology startups. I have personally built and sold a technology startup before founding YellowPedal.

What really inspires us is the idea of introducing a first-of-its-kind model in a large consumer industry. We are problem solvers at heart, and the fact that we are not copying an existing model, but doing something that has truly never been done before, keeps us excited.

INCUBEES: Do you have any plans to raise funding to grow your business or allow your business to organically grow?

SUMIT GUPTA: We are looking forward to raise funding in the near future. We already have a proof of concept that we have executed while remaining entirely bootstrapped and profitable. And we are also ready from a technology perspective at this point.

Our model allows us to grow organically, as there are no working capital risks involved, but an injection of capital can certainly help us speed up things significantly.

INCUBEES: What are the challenges you face as a startup?

SUMIT GUPTA: The business fundamentals of our model are extremely sound, so we don’t see any major challenges as such. There will always be the usual challenges of running a startup, like raising capital at the right time, hiring quality people, etc., as there are with any other startup.

We believe that in order to build a long lasting business, it is important to go deep in the industry and solve fundamental problems in a way that they haven’t been solved before.

So, with a vision like ours, there will always be execution challenges, but at the same time, we are confident in our abilities to see through them, especially given the early signs of success we have already seen with our approach.

INCUBEES: Where do you see your service reaching in the next five-years?

SUMIT GUPTA: We see ourselves occupying a significant chunk of the intercity bus travel segment India in five years, with a popular consumer brand, and more importantly, we see ourselves changing the perception of what intercity bus travel could look like, by improving and standardizing the consumer experience at scale.

To put it simply, the idea is to introduce the level of consumer experience and standardization we see in the air-travel industry to the intercity bus services segment.

We have studied the market closely, and we believe that the incremental cost of executing this will always be less than the revenue gains.

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