“To do something better for Andaman Islands” feeling made Awez to start Experience Andamans.
While working as a manager, his friends and colleagues often used to take suggestions from him regarding their travel plan to the Andaman Islands. He made efforts to help them and referred them to some known trip planners in Andaman. In many instances he encountered with his friends saying “It was just ok and they didn’t like it much”. Since he knew the island, it was hard to accept. Upon digging more into this problem he identified that it was about the experiences given to them.
Experience Andamans is a mix of both product and services but more inclined towards services for enhanced customer experience. It has a list of island guides who excel in their work and have immense knowledge about Andamans.
After realizing that the true experience of the islands is not catered to the travelers, the founding principles of Experience Andamans were formed where not just the hotel or the vehicle or one particular instance of a trip is exciting but the trip as a whole is an experience.
The startup has recently launched India’s first Andaman Trip Planner, the first ever island e-commerce platform. Here one can explore, select, and customize his/her own Andaman Tour Package online. The best of island discounts and worries about island connectivity are few things that are addressed in the platform. The portal offers transparent pricing to help travelers to get an estimate and to make an informed decision about their trip.
Experience Andamans is a brain child of Awez and Azhar. The company is currently based out of Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The idea to do something better for Andaman travelers came up in May, 2013. However, it went live in September, 2013.
Awez is an MBA in Finance and Marketing from Indian Institute of Planning and Management and hails from Andaman. Apart from Experience Andamans, he also provides financial solutions to people who require assistance in regard to any government related activities.
Azhar is a Computer Science Engineer from NIT Durgapur. He has worked at several software companies and comes with a deep understanding of software products and market research.
Before starting the venture, founders have studied and researched a lot. They initially invested Rs. 70,000 to begin with and gradually funded the company. It is completely bootstrapped and has achieved its break-even in September, 2014. The venture has approximately Rs. 40 lakh in revenue.
According to young entrepreneurs, the biggest investments were to find good software developers to build the e-commerce platform, bring up a quality website, and hiring knowledgeable Andaman experts.
The startup prefers local islanders as customer representatives who have personally experienced everything that is catered in their website. This comes as part of their selection and training program.
Social Media, Forums, Google Ads, and College events are ways through which company intends to reach their targeted audience. Experience Andamans is first of its kind “Focused only towards island travel” in India. However, almost every travel business selling packages to Andaman Islands but at the core of it is the values that the firm have, flexibility they provide to travelers, and unmatched travel experiences set the venture apart from mass crowd.
Talking genuinely about their services, founder states that they never hesitate to say upfront to travelers the pros and the cons. The cons are also important to mention. They are not worried about not getting their packages sold and losing it to the competition. But in the end they do not want to fake people by saying something and providing something else. “That’s not the way to survive in long term,” affirms the founder.
There are hurdles that every start-up has to face. In the beginning, it was difficult to make travelers believe that they were authentic. Extremely high competition and fake pricing over the internet are the biggest challenges that the young company had to deal with in the initial days.
“Finding the first few customers is something that’s always close to a start up and it has a story of its own,” states the founder.
Talking about their entrepreneurial journey, Awez says
It’s a journey one must cover for himself and is quite exciting. When we began we knew nothing except about Andaman Islands. We created website, clicked pictures, added genuine content, and few more studies about the internet and we launched our first website. In the coming months more studies went into to optimize the website and to add more content to it.
He further adds, “For the first few months I handled all customers queries and later when the inflow of query began we started hiring local Andaman people. Trained them and made them realize about various aspects about Andaman. “
Launching a unique island mobile app and reaching out to people are company’s short term plan. However, In the long run, it is looking forward to open up to new islands in India and other south Asian islands around India.
Traveler by heart, Azhar is a backpacker and an avid traveler with extremely good taste of products and services in regard to travel. Awez is a laid back vacationer comfort is something he prefers.
Sharing some significant ideas from his experience, Awez says, “For new start ups, I recommend them to start soon. There are lots of ideas to implement, but if you do not launch you will always be hesitant to take that next step and then the journey will be a ride. Secondly, follow some people or brands that are doing well in your field of interest. Try to follow, understand, and question why this has been done? Once you start reasoning with those questions you will find your way out of the haze. Don’t fear to lose! And keep trust in yourself. Build a great team who can be trusted; Those will be the pillars of your future business.”