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Deep Kalra’s Story of MakeMyTrip

By on Nov 14, 2009 | 20 comments

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I’ve always been a great admirer of people who took a different path in life. One such man is Deep Kalra. TechCrunch recently posted about Deep Kalra on their blog. Its a long article, so I’ve decided to pick up the big points and present them to all my readers who day dream about being different but never actually do anything about it.

Back in 1995, Deep Kalra quit his steady, safe, good-paying & boring job of a banker to join AMF Bowling, an American company that was trying to setup bowling alleys and billiard halls for the first time in India. Kalra managed to open about 200 lanes, most of them in small centers. Worse, Kalra was in that business-man’s-limbo: The venture wasn’t really his own thing, but he had a remote boss back in America who didn’t give him much mentorship or guidance. After serving there for four years, he decided to return to the safe world of Banking. Then in 2000, with some money saved in his bank, he began to get that entrepreneurial itch again and decided to quit again.

Deep Kalra, MakeMyTrip Image Credit: TechCrunch
Deep Kalra, MakeMyTrip Image Credit: TechCrunch

Kalra was amazed by the power of Internet and also knew how hard it was to travel to India. He opened MakeMyTrip.com to address this issue. For Indians, the venture was too ahead of time as people were reluctant to using their credit cards online and didn’t trust non established brands. Like any other venture, MakeMyTrip was successful in raising venture capital; but post the dot com bubble, the VCs refused $1 million in funding commitments. The times were really bad for Kalra. Kalra was 31-years-old with a wife and a baby at a time when starting a dot com was insane and in a place where it was downright suicidal. But Kalra and two senior managers bought back their equity in the business and agreed to go without salaries for 18 months. Kalra says, “It worked out, so we can say we were resilient. But at the time I worried I was just being stubborn. But I figured you regret the things you don’t do in life, not the things you do.”

Kalra’s company is now making $5 million in US  dollars of profit this year and doing more than $500 million in gross bookings. Revenues are up 88% during the recession and one-out-of-every-twelve domestic flights in India is booked via MakeMyTrip.com. After airline tickets, the second biggest category is railway tickets—the site sells 2,500 of them every day. Kalra is busy interviewing a lot of US-trained management types to augment the team. Don’t look now, but MakeMyTrip could be India’s next dot com IPO. (Like most well-behaved CEOs, Kalra wouldn’t comment on any immediate IPO plans.)

Ahead of his time or no, Kalra is glad he took the risk when he did. He’s not sure he would today even with more money in his savings. He’s also glad he didn’t give up on India’s domestic market, “If I’d been in Silicon Valley I’m convinced we might have reached scale in half the time, but we also probably would have been obliterated by the competition.”

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Amazing, right? 🙂

The Big K



20 Comments

  1. Vidyut

    November 17, 2009

    Post a Reply

    biggie, thanks for your efforts in giving useful, inspiring information at one place.

  2. Victor

    February 13, 2010

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    Funny, you might be doing a run rate of $500m but I believe you still live in India , dont you Mr Kalra? What if your kids grow up and ask you why you didnt choose to raise them in a country with a good quality of life ? Will you give them a few million dollars and comfort them ?

    • Carepatel

      August 6, 2011

      Post a Reply

      What do you mean by the Country with a Good Quality of Life? I guess India has more to offer . Please try to find out more about India.

    • Abc_bhai

      August 15, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Victor.. abe chu*iye…. ye kisne bola ki india mein life achi nahi hai ? tere jaise log desh ke naam pe dhabba (bad spot) hai.. isko maaro.. Happy Independence Day !!!

  3. laxmi mittal

    June 12, 2010

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    What a stupid comment victor, if u feel quality of life in india is bad, u r mistaken. kids in india are much more smarter, they can enjoy luxuries of both worlds, americans cannot ajust in india, indians can adjust anywhere

  4. mathew

    November 16, 2010

    Post a Reply

    Oye Victor!!!

    U don’t know life in India so u ended up asking ur stupid question!!!

  5. Vishal

    April 1, 2011

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    All I would like to say is yes we do admire what Deep kalra has done, as a Matter of Fact he opened the doors for a lot of others to try the Online Modle for Travel. As regards to Victors comment. Well having experienced what India is today, It would be plain foolish to live in a Debt rdden economy called America.

  6. Angel Goa

    April 7, 2011

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    Deep Kalra, the story of makemytrip is that your fraud company sold me an international ticket and then accidentally deleted it. Could you take responsibility for that and can I get a refund? I’ve made close to 100 bookings for my company, family and myself to your service in the last 3 years and this is no way to treat patrons.

  7. Ishan Topre

    August 19, 2011

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    The story is REAL and I was really inspired when I read about him the first time. Especially when he was in a stable banking job, no BABU in his right mind would leave a government job. But then there are people who say, “If you all want to leave, you can. But I am going to stick (with it) and make it.” 😉

  8. Neha

    March 29, 2012

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    All you guys can do is just talk about all the nonsense without you guys taking any action!

  9. Rose

    September 13, 2012

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    Make my trip is one of the worst services i have come across. Untrained staff, unreliable service. Its extremely advisable to pick your tickets through the airline. Per domestic ticket the difference is minimum 3k. So i wonder whats the biggest deal about cheap tickets.

  10. Subroy

    June 22, 2013

    Post a Reply

    nothing impressive. company has no customer service knowledge or passion to help customer/ Waste of time

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