Anjali Singh & Priyanka Sahay
Ashish Kashyap, founder of online travel firm Ibibo which was recently acquired by Nasdaq-listed MakeMyTrip envisages that the travel industry will soon be driven by artificial intelligence (AI).
In an exclusive chat with Chillicious, Kashyap said that AI-driven personal assistants will be planning trips on behalf of travellers and will also take care of their personal choices.
“The next phase is going to be about further simplifying user experiences for travellers. Think of your AI driven personal assistant on your mobile phone, doing all your trip planning, bookings, amendments and post trip planning,” Kashyap told Chillicious.com after the Ibibo-MakeMyTrip merger was announced this week.
Kashyap founded Ibibo in 2007 as a green field incubator with the backing of Naspers and Tencent. However, this wasn’t his only major stint.
The 42-year-old entrepreneur has built multiple internet businesses in the past – across segments such as social media, gaming, payments, e-commerce and vertical classifieds. He has also driven exits, acquisitions and mergers.
From a middle class background
Born to an army officer and educationist, one can expect, Kashyap having a disciplined life early on. But, it seems that discipline never came in the way of allowing children to pursue the career of their choice.
Kashyap pursued Bachelor’s in Economics from Kirori Mal College, Delhi and Diploma in International Masters in Practicing Management (IMPM) from Insead, Fontainebleau, France.
His sister Shibani Kashyap – a famous pop artist and also a Bollywood singer, did her graduation in English Literature from Delhi University.
Kashyap’s wife, Anita Kashyap is a yoga trainer and is also pursuing Masters in International Politics.
He started-off by founding e-commerce businesses at Indiatimes and claims to be the first person to sell a domestic air ticket in India via the Indiatimes auctions platform. A dedicated entrepreneur Kashyap created first of its kind ‘Reverse Auctions’ and ‘Travel Auctions’ along with launching indiatimes shopping.
He then moved on to become the first country manager of Google in India.
Kashyap also co-founded ibibo Pay in 2011 – a payments platform which later was re-branded as PayU. This was sold to Naspers in 2014.
In 2013, Ibibo Group acquired redBus which helped the company become a stronger player in the travel space.
Very lonely at the top
Talking about the difference in experience he gained from Google and Ibibo, Kashyap said that his stint at Google taught him ‘how global companies at scale execute and innovate’. On the other hand, founding Ibibo was a very different experience as he had to build everything from scratch.
“When I started on day one, I was alone and I had to solve issues pertaining to hiring, finance, product, fund raising, legal etc. It was very lonely, however, I always enjoy creating impact via building strong consumer internet properties. Beyond creation of a strong consumer franchise, I had to constantly learn and unlearn and adapt to consumer shifts,” he says.
Talking about Ibibo-MakeMyTrip deal, he said, “Indian online travel is hugely under penetrated. Hotels is less than 15 percent, intercity bus transportation is 18 percent, outbound travel – we are still scratching the surface. Given that there is a lot of market creation activity to take place, ie. To bring offline to online, the merger will enable us to catalyse the same.”
“There is lots of work to be done and doing so alone would be harder and more expensive,” he added.