Following is an email interview which we did with Pahninder Sama, CEO Red Bus.in. We talked more about the industry they are working in challenges faced and whats their unique positioning in market.Q1. Can you give us some brief on redbus
redBus is the first player in India to launch the concept of online bus tickets. Today, it is India’s largest such service with the highest number of routes (over 3200) and over 250+ bus operator partners. Consumers get some unparalleled benefits that are unique to redBus:
– They can book return tickets
– They can choose their seats
– They can get tickets home delivery
– They have access to the best-in-class bus operators
– They can book tickets over the phone, through their mobile, on the net or in person at our partner outlets.
Q2. Give some background on founders and their experience
redBus was started by 3 friends from BITS Pilani.
Phanindra Sama – Ex Texas Instruments
Charan Padmaraju – Ex Honeywell
Sudhakar Pasupunuri – Ex IBM
Q3. Why Bus reservation. What is the potential market size in terms of rupee value and how do we segment it.
Bus reservation is a very large market. There is no formal study available to dig statistics. However, approximately the market is pegged at about Rs. 15000 crores. The best way to segment it is geographically, by states. Each state has some busy (priority) routes. One can estimate the market by the number of buses and average load per bus for those routes and add it up to get the state market size.
Q4. Is this business volume driven or with coming in of luxury buses we will see tour operator using bus as medium also being pushed online
I’m not sure if I understand the second part of this question correctly, but to answer the first – yes it is a volume driven game. Greater volumes change the dynamics of the relationship of the players in this industry.
Q5. The space at which rail & Air is moving why don’t we see the bus operator segment evolving at same pace.
The bus space is relatively young and you will see it booming in the next few months. We have already started experiencing 30% month-on-month increase and the word-of-mouth will kick start this boom.
Q6. Keeping in mind low operation standards maintained by smaller bus operators, when you sign them up is their a service level agreement with minimum quality standards being imposed.
We are conscious about the bus operators we tie up with. There have been instances where we have broken our relationship with operators with whom some customers had a bad experience. That’s how serious we are about service levels.
Q7. What are the main hurdles you face to get scale for your business?
Streamlining the operations with 100s of bus operators throughout the country and building robustness is one of the hurdles to attain immediate scale
Q8. When selecting a bus operator for Delhi-Jammu segment I noticed it threw up 2-3 option with similar fares and originating point. What extra information you tend to provide which can help me to take a decision on bus operator to select as they are not brand names which I have heard of before. Eg data would be performance of operator in terms of number of times bus is running on time and so forth.
We will soon have a discussion forums powered by users. That will give other travelers an idea about experiences of people who have used those bus operators.
We surely are. However, that’s not the revenue model of priority right now. We want to master our core business before we can get into maximizing other revenue models.
Q10. What all can we expect in 2008 from Redbus like external integration with travel meta search engines etc.
Of late, some travel meta search engines are showing interest in displaying redBus results. It may come through in sometime.
The market is dynamic and moving at a very fast pace. The operations / offering on redBus.in could be quite different in 2008.