Yesterday’s Mint newspaper carried the story of Cleartrip’s next round of funding. The associated graphic showed all the 7 players in online space. The 5 players that have been funded for sometime (Yatra, Cleartrip, Makemytrip, Travelguru & HolidayIQ) and the two start-ups (Ixigo, Atyourprice) who have just received angel funding. What is really interesting for me is the extremely unique position occupied by HolidayIQ in this group (even though I say it myself!). We are the only travel information business (media & publishing) and actually works completely complementary to all the other players in the travel space, be it online players, offline travel agents or travel suppliers. The other aspect I notice is the high efficiency of capital we have had, having spent considerably lesser money than the funded online travel agents.
I find the two new start-ups interesting too. Ixigo is a meta-search product and Atyourprice is an auction business. The challenge is that both these businesses will probably have to remain almost exclusively online. HolidayIQ was always conceptualized as the 360 degree approach to travel audiences, so there is a significant component outside the internet. The Online Travel Agents are already moving offline too. So I wonder whether pure-play internet businesses will be able to grow large enough in India. Anyway, looks to be an interesting journey.