India’s newest unicorn eyes Gulf expansion

Nishant Pitti,  CEO, and co-founder of EaseMyTrip.
Nishant Pitti, CEO, and co-founder of EaseMyTrip.

India’s second-largest online travel platform, whose market capitalisation crossed $1 billion just recently, aims to establish its air ticketing business in the UAE.



by

Issac John

Published: Fri 29 Oct 2021, 11:41 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Oct 2021, 11:43 PM

EaseMyTrip, one of the newest entrants to India’s exponentially swelling startup unicorn club, seeks to expand operations in the UAE and other GCC countries as part of a new global expansion drive.

India’s second-largest online travel platform, whose market capitalisation crossed $1 billion just recently, aims to establish its air ticketing business in the UAE as it anticipates a huge pent-up global demand for the travel and tourism sector in the coming months, said Nishant Pitti, CEO, and co-founder of EaseMyTrip (EMT).

“We will be leveraging our ability to offer lower service charges on air tickets to expand our market share in the UAE and the Middle East,” said Pitti, who was in Dubai for the opening of Expo2020 Dubai a prime sponsor of the mega event.

Preparatory to the regional push, EMT has unveiled in the UAE a localized travel search engine to enable the customers in the Gulf region to enjoy its services including 'end to end' travel solutions ranging from air tickets, hotels and holiday packages, rail tickets & bus tickets to ancillary value-added services.

Recently, EMT also announced its expansion in other markets with plans to foray into the Philippines, Thailand and the US with localised travel search engines. It also has established a presence in Singapore, and the UK to cater to Indian customers travelling to these countries.

Pitti said his company is among very few consumer internet businesses in the world, who have become unicorns while remaining bootstrapped. “Even during the IPO, the company didn’t take any money. So we are still bootstrapped.”

With the entry of EMT into the coveted club, India added 28 new unicorns in the first nine months of 2021, taking the total number of startups with market caps above $1 billion to 66, industry body Nasscom said. This gives India chance to double the number of unicorns from last year. India had 38 unicorns at the end of 2020.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of an event marking the India Pavilion opening, the young entrepreneur said his company has had long-standing relations in UAE as it had previously collaborated with the tourism boards of Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Sharjah, and Oman. The company has also provided extensive support to the Saudi tourism board in its endeavours to expand its presence in the Indian market.

Over the years, EMT has been one of the key contributors to Gulf tourism as the region has been a sought-after destination for its customers. “Even during the pandemic, we have seen that UAE has been a prominent leisure and business travel destination for our users across the country,” he said.

“Through our UAE subsidiary, we will look to further collaborate with the local partners, local airline carriers and also a local payment gateway, which will enable us to offer better value services for the customers in the region. We will be competing based on pricing as we will be able to offer tickets at a much better price,” said Pitti.

He said the subsidiary in UAE would be operated using the same amount of efficiency and cutting-edge technology that EMT has been utilizing in the Indian market. “We are excited about this new phase of global expansion in UAE, and we are optimistic that this will pave the way for significant growth prospects in the future.”

Pitti attributed EMT’s consistent profitability to its lean cost model and its policy of offering users the option of zero-convenience fees during bookings, which, over the years, “has become a USP of the company.”

EMT founder said India’s air-ticket market is roughly IRs800 billion industry, which itself is poised to grow at 15 per cent per annum for the next 4-5 years, as various new airports are opening. EMT will be one of the beneficiaries as we are already gaining market share.

For the FY20-21 fiscal, EMT doubled its profit and recorded its highest ever profitability during pandemic struck year. In Q1FY22, during the second wave, its profits grew by six-fold as compared to the quarter of the corresponding year

In the coming years, the company plans to expand its operations and focus heavily on its hotel and holiday package business, he said. — issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com


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