In 2000, when markets globally were in the grip of the dotcom mania, Deep Kalra was thinking of a venture to strike out on his own. He had to make up his mind between setting up an online travel site or an online stockbroking firm.
An MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, Kalra was bitten by the internet bug while working for GE Capital. Convinced that the internet would change the way people bought and sold services, Kalra decided to put his money where his mouth was.
Kalra eventually opted for travel, and that was how MakeMyTrip was born.
"Travel was something I think innately I really love, I have done all kinds of travel, very interesting travel and both me and my wife, well I would say were avid travelers, so I think that's what won me over," Kalra had said in an interview to CNBCTV18 in 2013.
"MakeMyTrip was really my baby - that was the business plan that I wrote and I got funded with," he said.
In April 2000, Kalra’s fledgling venture got funding from a venture capital player by the name of eVentures, and by October that year, MakeMyTrip was up and running.
"People were ready to come online, they were ready to look, but not too many people were booking. So that book to look ratio was pretty abysmal in the resident Indian market,” Kalra recalls.
Luckily for Kalra and his team, there was interest from people looking to travel to India. And that was doubly positive because the net penetration in the US at that point was among the highest globally.
"The inbound market was responding. We realized that NRIs and foreigners wanting to travel to India particularly from the US where the net penetration was among the highest was actually very encouraging," Kalra said.
The original plan had made keeping in mind travelers in India, but Kalra quickly moved in to capitalise on the changed situation.
"I think what we did very quickly and wisely now on hindsight is that we said we are going to focus on the India market and that is where we started putting in our marketing dollars that is where we built up our whole organization around, we set up a company in the US and I have an office in New York and that I think was a very smart move,” he said.