Every day, over 40 million people hop on to the grand old Indian Railways (IR) and embark on long-distance journeys. Despite being one of the largest national public transport networks in the world, it is plagued by operational inefficiencies, perennial delays and a massive demand-supply mismatch. Therefore, travellers are gradually choosing air travel over trains.
It is this trend that Manish Rathi, Kapil Raizada and Sachin Saxena set out to reverse with their Noida-based start-up, RailYatri. “We saw the opportunity of simplifying the process for millions of travellers by providing detailed information to make effective travelling decisions,” says Rathi, who co-founded RailYatri in 2012. Six years down, what started as a crowdsourcing platform for train-related information, has evolved into a full-fledged services platform for everything related to rail travel. Today, Rail-Yatri provides a wide range of services including bus tickets, long-distance cabs, a wide selection of food, affordable accommodation on hourly packages, and of late, packaged tours to popular destinations.
While the last reported revenue on Crunchbase is $7 million, the start-up claims to have a revenue run rate of Rs.1 billion in FY18. Its revenue has been growing 17% YoY, for the past three years. It has a user base of 13 million, and is confident of increasing it to 22 million in FY19.
Siddharth Nautiyal, investment partner, Omidyar Network, led RailYatri’s $10 million Series B funding in April 2018. He believes that the start-up has carved a niche for itself as the go-to platform for long-distance train travellers. “Some of the information was available at multiple sources; Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) itself did that. But the way RailYatri used crowdsourced data and analytics to bring everything together, won it millions of users. Even before we backed it, the platform had established itself,” says Nautiyal.
Till date, the start-up has raised $16 million from investors including Nandan Nilekani, Blume Ventures and Helion Venture Partners, with the funds raised being used to diversify and provide a wider set of feature