redBus.in, India’s very own start-up founded by Phanindra Sama provided a revolutionary way to book bus tickets. And he could very well attribute his success to missing his Diwali Plans with his family in 2005.
As a senior designer with Texas instruments, a leading microchip-maker in Bangalore, Sama was eager and enthusiastic to spend his holidays with his near and dear ones in Hyderabad. But he failed to procure tickets from any of the travel agents. Frustration and residual anger got him thinking about the nuances of the ticket booking system. He roped in two of his flatmates and thus redBus.in was born.
It was a tough decision for them to leave their plush jobs to become full-time entrepreneurs. Business was far way from Phanindra’s mind. He was happily settled in his electronics job which he had bagged after a successful undergraduate stint at BITS Pilani. As none of them had web technology background, it was not easy. It took them five months to create a working model for redBus.in. The software BOSS helped bus operators manage their operations and even inform about the status of seats in each bus. redBus.in acted as an interface for consumers to book tickets online.
Though their intentions were noble, their path was laden with rejections and obstacles as the bus operators refused the software, even when it was offered for free. Finally, on the brink of despair, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), a non-profit organisation that promotes entrepreneurship, in Bangalore introduced them to three mentors. As Sama had already mentioned before, if not for TiE, they would have rejoined regular jobs and redBus.in would have taken a backseat. These mentors pointed out the flaws and helped fine-tune their business plan. They had no business experience but these mentors helped them pave the way as entrepreneurs. One such effective advice came from mentor Sanjay Anandaram. He urged them to use Executive Search Firms (ESFs) to hire senior management. He said that it is the senior management that makes an organisation what it is. There was no looking back from that point.
With 700 bus operators in 15 states and a sale of about 6 lakh tickets daily, the founders of redBus.in have drafted their own successful story. They have sold their stake in the venture to the Ibibio Group in June 2013. redBus is estimated to have a market share of 65 percent. redbus teamed up with Uber, an already successful online cab-booking application to offer free rides to bus stops.
For Sama, who became an entrepreneur to improve an existing deadbeat system and managed to do so successfully, seems to have found his calling in social entrepreneurship. He is contemplating turning into an angel investor and help other entrepreneurs like himself to bring about major changes in the existing market trends.