WooBus Founder Tushar Gagerna On Building An Affordable Premium Bus Service
After graduating with a degree in Electronics and Communication engineering, Tushar Gagerna worked as a Digital Marketing Associate with MobiKwik. In August 2015, he came up with a startup idea and got together with his friend Parikshit Dutt to build WooBus - a well maintained and organized bus service in India.
In this exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers, we got Tushar Gagerna, Founder & CEO - WooBus to talk about his early life, the idea behind his startup, how they set it up and where they are headed. Read on!
Tushar Gagerna, Founder & CEO - WooBus
CE: Tell us about your growing up years and family background. Are you a first generation entrepreneur?
Tushar Gagerna: I was born and brought up in a middle class family. Being the only child, I was burdened with a lot expectations and hopes. Being a good scorer in school turned up against me and I found myself in an engineering college years later. You lose all your self confidence once you see all the kickass people around in college. I realized soon that rat race is not where I want to run. My family understood my situation and supported me in whatever I wanted to vent.
CE: When did you first think about building a startup around premium buses? (Tell us the behind the scenes story of how WooBus came to life.)
Tushar Gagerna: It all started in July'15, while I was coming back from Spiti Valley in a bus. I realized that the journey experience was far worse from what passengers need. In the era where finding a bus is no more a hassle, there was no one actually taking care of the passengers' journey experience. If any mishap occurs, even the OTAs try to keep their hands clean by blaming these bus operators. No one wanted to take responsibility. So I decided to quit my job at MobiKwik and dig deeper in the issue.
Some of the issues were:
- Overcrowded buses
- Accidents due to Drunk Drivers
- Passengers unable to locate buses
Other issues included Cleanliness, Staff Behavior, Unhygienic Midways, Unsafe for Women etc.
CE: How did you go about setting up WooBus and running it in the initial few days?
Tushar Gagerna: For months, we surveyed, researched, talked to commuters and bus operators and based on the feedback we formulated the concept of WOOBUS. I called my childhood friend Anubhav, who was studying in Australian National University. He too loved the idea and dropped out immediately and came back to India to change the way India travels.
We did pilot on various routes to test the market. The response we received was overwhelming and we decided to launch full throttle.
CE: How was your experience of bagging your first deal? What feedback did you receive from them?
Tushar Gagerna: The industry is a tough one to deal with. We were asked to come at client's office at 7 AM to be later informed at 10 AM that the meeting is postponed. And it happened several times. It's tough to convince people twice your age that you can actually make them earn more money. But we were determined and hence when we bagged our first deal, we celebrated it.
The feedback was positive hence we didn't lose any client in our journey.
CE: What you guys do for maintaining repeat visits and bookings on your website from your clients?
Tushar Gagerna: We are a service company, therefore instead of discounts, we focus simply on providing best services which no one else provides at such cheap prices.
CE: How big is your team at the moment? How do you go about hiring professionals who are passionate about your startup?
Tushar Gagerna: We are a small team of 3 people doing everything. We make sure everyone has a unique quality that makes them different from the other. Same rule we follow in hiring as well.
CE: How big is the market you are targeting?
Tushar Gagerna: The current market size is $ 3.2 Billion in India with 40% CAGR.
CE: What is the typical day in the office like? Run us through your schedule.
Tushar Gagerna: At this stage, we focus on building relationships with operators. So after all the necessary calls and meetings, we visit operator offices and discuss business, performance and plans.
CE: Any message for young engineers or aspiring entrepreneurs?
Tushar Gagerna: Yes. One thing which I follow myself -
If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but you think you can't,
It is almost a fact that you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost;
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed, you are;
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can!
- Walter D. Wintle