IWTA speaks with Chitra Gurnani Daga – co-found Thrillophilia.com
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We are delighted to introduce you to Chitra Gurnani Daga – co-founder Thrillophilia.com
Chitra started with a Bachelors in Information Technology, and turned her back on a steady well-paid career to follow her passion for travel, which she has since built into a thriving business.
The travel start-up idea took hold in 2009 when Chitra and her partner, who both enjoyed travelling extensively throughout India, realised that so many amazing experiences were undiscovered as there was no way of finding out about them or making reservations. Every other aspect of travel could be booked online, but not experiences. They began working on the idea whilst continuing with their day jobs, spending evenings, nights and weekends on developing the company.
Leaving a well-paid, secure job to pursue an MBA, Chitra decided, upon completion, that the time was right to throw 100% effort into building and scaling their start-up venture, thrillophilia.com.
With a loan for her MBA, and money needed for the start-up, Chitra’s choices did not appear to be financially sound to her family, but she was committed, determined and persistent. This complete focus paid off in just 12 months, as the new venture broke even, allowing her partner to leave his job and join her in running the new company.
Chitra credits her ability to cope with the uncertainty and pressure of building a new venture with her appetite for risk, her focus, and her positive attitude.
Lessons from the Pandemic
As travel came to a complete standstill at the beginning of 2020, rather than laying people off, Chitra offered everyone a continued role, with pay cuts across the board to enable them to remain viable. Energy was put into finding new ways to do business, with a new membership programme helping the company to survive.
Volatility and Agility became the buzzwords – volatility of travel in general, and the agility of the team in constantly changing and updating offerings to meet market needs before the market even realised they needed it!
Chitra is someone who loves having a problem to overcome, and delights in finding solutions. In her words “There is an opportunity in every problem”
Words of Wisdom
Her advice to the young generation is to not lose hope or patience, to just keep working at what they believe in. A good education from a good college, with peers to help broaden their vision is essential – but from then on, it is courage to stand up for what you believe in, and to not give up. She believes the essential characteristics of an entrepreneur are persistence and courage. Without courage, you won’t take the risks necessary to build a business; and without persistence to overcome challenges and find solutions, you will surely fail.
The company has grown fast and continues to grow. Chitra has now turned her attention to ensuring that phenomenal customer service remains a focus for Thrillophilia.com as the business scales up.
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