At least one of the two investors in travel search engine Ixigo operated by Delhi-based Le Travenues Technology Pvt Ltd, may put in more money in its new funding round which is expected to be worth $25 million or more, a top company executive told Techcircle.in.
Ixigo had last got money three years ago when SAIF and its public listed portfolio firm MakeMyTrip together bought majority stake in Ixigo. However, Ixigo is run independently as a separate venture.
Launched in June, 2007, by Aloke Bajpai, Rajnish Kumar and Dharmendra Yashovardhan, the venture first raised a seed investment from BAF Spectrum, Singapore, in 2008. BAF Spectrum had exited from Ixigo when it raised its Series A round. While MakeMyTrip had picked 19.9 per cent for a cash consideration of $4.8 million, SAIF had acquired 56.7 per cent for $13.7 million, back then.
The proposed funding will be used to expand its mobile services as the company is betting big on the surge in smartphones in the country. The company also plans to hire 150 employees by the end of calender year 2015 which would more than double its employee base as it has under 100 people on the rolls at present.
"We are raising $25 million but could potentially expand the round based on the interest we're seeing," founder and CEO Aloke Bajpai said in an email interaction.
He added that existing investor SAIF Partners has shown interest to participate in this round.
An email sent to SAIF Partners did not elicit a response.
When contacted, MakeMyTrip spokesperson said, "Since we are a listed company, we cannot comment on the development."
However, recently MakeMyTrip had floated a $15 million (around Rs 90 crore) innovation fund, which will seek to invest in early-stage ventures operating in the travel and tourism space, with a focus on mobile and IP-based startups. The company had said that it is an additional prong to its inorganic growth strategy by pursuing M&A opportunities in the travel technology space.
The firm offers a travel search platform for flights, hotels, packages, trains and more. It makes money from meta-search business model through click-throughs and bookings on third-party websites/apps as well as advertising.
It claims it has the largest inventory of accommodations listing with 23,000 places to stay which is almost double of any single online travel agency in the country. It is adding not just star hotels and guest houses but also offbeat budget stays such as ashrams, dharamshalas and more.
According to Bajpai, in the last six months the firm realised that small and medium sized travel service providers, specially small independent hotels, activity providers and local sightseeing service providers, are still not empowered to market and sell their inventory online effectively.
"We are working closely with this long-tail of travel businesses to bring them online and to enable them to market themselves better as well as create innovative booking paths for them to grow their business," he says adding that "The next 100 million internet users who will come online in 2015 are not the people looking for flight tickets and 3-5 star hotels. They will increasingly look at trains, buses, budget taxis, auto-rickshaws and affordable restaurants."
Here are some stats on ixigo:
--- Claims 3.6 million downloads of its mobile apps, with over 1 million monthly active users on mobile apps.
--- Aims to grow to 10 million monthly users, 10 million plus downloads and enable the sale of 5,000 room nights per day for its hotel partners by the end of 2015.
--- On its website, it caters to 3 million monthly active users with 60 per cent coming from mobile web.
-- Already at over 70 per cent traffic from mobile.
-- 98 per cent of its 4 million monthly users are organic (non-paid).
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)