About eight years ago, Phanindra Sama didn't get tickets to go home from Bangalore for Diwali. That unfortunate day become a milestone on a long winded road to fortune for this BITS Pilani alumnus and his friends - Charan Padmaraju and Sudhakar Pasupunuri, all IT professionals.
redBus.in, founded by this gang of three, became the biggest online bus ticketing platform in terms of sales.
Today (June 21), ibiboGroup acquired redBus.in for an undisclosed amount. The combined volumes of redBus.in and ibiboGroup's existing travel sites will make it a formidable player in the online travel market.
The transaction will expand ibiboGroup's existing travel assets: Goibibo.com, one of the leading B2C online travel aggregators and TravelBoutiqueOnline, a B2B Online travel platform that enables thousands of small and medium agents.
All the travel entities of ibiboGroup, including redBus.in, will continue to run independently, the founders told Business Today. The founders and management teams of each of these entities will continue to build their businesses. "I will continue to be the CEO and my team mates will be the same," said Phanindra Sama. "We will get the know-how from ibiboGroup's different entities."
Ashish Kashyap, CEO, ibiboGroup told BT, "Only less than seven per cent of the online travel market is penetrated in the country. We see tremendous head room in terms of growth."
With funding from Naspers, a South Africa-based multinational media group, Kashyap, the former country head of Google, founded ibiboGroup in 2007. "We saw good growth in the travel segment, despite the recession and the Kingfisher fiasco. We thought the only way to have significant presence in the market was to go through the M&A (mergers and acquisitions) route," he says.
ibiboGroup also owns e-commerce payment aggregator PayU India, the online marketplace Tradus.com and auto marketplace Gaadi.com. It is now a Naspers subsidiary with 80 per cent holding.
Located in start-up haven Bangalore, Pilani Soft Labs, which own redBus, raised a series 'A' round of funding from Seedfund of $1 million after which a series 'B' round of funding came from Seedfund and Inventus Capital Partners for $2.5 million. Later, Helion Venture Partners did a series 'C' to raise $ 6.5 million, according to TechCrunch.
The redBus start up story proved to the world that you don't have to steal ideas from Silicon Valley in the U.S - just look within the country, there's plenty of potential.
Speaking to BT over the phone from Bangalore, Sama says with a laugh, "I am thankful that I missed the bus."