Alum Ventures: Pickyourtrail – Hari Ganapathy (PGP 09)

We congratulate Mr. Hari Ganapthy (PGP 09) Morpheous, of pickyourtrail.com for be chosen as the official Travel & Hospitality partner for ICC World Cup T20. Pickyourtrail hopes to target 40,000 Indian visitors expected to travel to Australia, to attend the match and explore the country and its offerings.  Pickyourtrail is an online-based travel company that helps create your dream holiday into a reality. 

We got in candid conversation with Hari about his company, his journey as an entrepreneur and what keeps the oil of an entrepreneur burning.

What is pickyourtrail.com? How is it different from other travel sites?

Pickyourtrail is perhaps the world’s only full-stack vacation planning platform. Our advanced algorithm generates 100% customizable itineraries—customers can chisel the plan according to their budget, what view they want from their hotel room, to what activities they want to do. They can do all this in under 10 minutes, hassle-free. 

What truly sets us apart is that we’re a combination of technology and human expertise: Pickyourtrail has an entire team of experts dedicated to live on-trip support for our travelers—whether they need restaurant suggestions or has misplaced their luggage—help is always a tap away. Starting from the planning stage to the customer’s return from their trip, we take care of a customer’s vacation end-to-end in the true sense. 

Your company has just been named as the Official Travel & Hospitality partner of ICC T20 World Cup. What does this association mean?

It seems surreal to know that Pickyourtrail is India’s only vacation planning platform to partner with ICC. In 2018, India was Australia’s eighth largest inbound market for visitor arrivals. Add cricket to the equation, and the numbers are mind-boggling. We want to help all of these travelers explore Australia in the best possible way. This partnership with ICC will also put us on the map as India’s premier customized vacation planners. We will look for more opportunities to partner with bigger causes, making our presence globally felt. 

Now that this tie-up will put you on a bigger canvas, what are your future plans?

Two major reasons why people travel—either they’re celebrating a milestone (anniversary/honeymoon, etc), or they’re going to cheer for their favorite celebrity or team. Sports events are a big part of travel, so this gives us a lot of confidence to build a sports marketing portfolio for Pickyourtrail. We’re now in talks with Qatar 2020 World Cup and hope to build on this momentum for other tournaments like tennis too. Our customers are going to have a lot more reasons to travel abroad now 🙂 

Any take away from your campus days that have been a motivating factor in your journey?

IIM Bangalore was an experience that significantly shaped my world view today. Right from the ability to handle pressure, collaborative working, making decisions with limited information and handling rejection (anyone who has been through the placement process of 2009 will vouch for this) were some of the main skills that have been extremely useful for me in my entrepreneurial journey.

Why did you move from your corporate job to an entrepreneurial venture?

It was not a planned move, to be honest. A huge part of this goes to InMobi—the organization encouraged a culture of taking risks and I had dabbled at multiple roles across India, South East Asia, and EMEA. The kind of responsibility and exposure that I got at InMobi gave me a lot of confidence to venture out on my own. 

Back in 2013 when Srinath and I were still figuring things out with Pickyourtrail, we thought the worst-case outcome would be that we will have Supplier contacts that will subsidize travel for the rest of our lives 🙂 Though we’ve surpassed that expectation by a long stretch, we continue to operate with that same mindset till date. 

What advice will you give to budding entrepreneurs or fellow alums, who wants to take the plunge to the entrepreneurial side? 

There are two things I would like to share from my personal experience – 

1. There is no better time than now. And this is true at all times—bull or bear market. ”You cannot be out of a job for long with an IIM Bangalore Degree” —this is what one of my batch mates who opted out of placements in 2009 told me. He started a company trying to sell flowers, and today he’s the co-founder of a successful SAAS company in the ad-tech space. 

2. Money is not the motivator. Almost 99% of all Start-ups die. The press does a really bad job of covering failure (their narrative is the same as ‘IIM Bangalore grad secures 1Crore salary’).

There has to be a compelling anchor that keeps you grounded to what you want to do. It could be the impact you are creating, a problem that you enjoy solving or a combination of other reasons. 

How can alums avail your services? Do you have any special offerings for alums? 

Pickyourtrail is an OTA for international trips. You can use the platform to create your own trips and book them. You could also speak to our certified travel experts and co-create the trip of your choice. 

We are currently building our referral and loyalty engine, and in the meantime, I’m super kicked to start off our referral and loyalty program with IIM Bangalore—use the code IIMBPYT to avail cashback of up to 12,000Rs on your next international trip 🙂

We thank Hari for his time and wish him luck. I am sure many alums will be using pickyourtrail henceforth, to make their holidays perfect & memorable.