Rashmi Chadha is the Founder of Wovoyage, a women-friendly travel startup that aims to encourage risk free & safe tours for female travellers by providing them with female tour guides and designing their tour with Real India Experience.
Rashmi did her graduation in Journalism & Communication from GGSIP, Masters in Social Entrepreneurship from Ambedkar university (dropped out when my business plan was ready). According to her, she was not very bright in studies till 6th standard and spent most of her time playing sports like gully cricket, basketball, handball etc. Her mother always supported her in what she likes. Being good in Sports, she was the first student who represented her school at nationals in two sports- that changed her life and she got tremendous support from her family and sports coach Sanjeev Sharma Sir. After that she won the “Best Sportsperson Award” at School for six consecutive years.
From a dull student to School National champion is what made the difference in her life back then.
In an exclusive interaction with Motiverge, Rashmi Chadha, Founder, Wovoyage shares more insights about her venture, journey so far, future plans and motivation.
Below are the excerpts from the interview:
Tell us more about Wovoyage. When and how it was established?
Wovoyage started in August 2016. We are promoting incredible India and solving problems which foreigners face while traveling in India specially females. Providing them safe and budget travel. We provide them female tour guides book female friendly hotels, stay connected 24/7 with them.
We also do bookings for domestic travel. Again when it comes to women, we personalized it even getting bus tickets. We get them front seats with a lesser price than they get from any other online source .
I did my research into foreigners traveling to India specially females by conducting a few tours as a freelancer. I found that foreign female travellers really want to travel India but they feel insecure and are reluctant to travel to the most incredible country of the world. I felt that if I can reduce the risk and provide them with a fully secure tour then there is a business opportunity with loads of potential waiting to be explored.
We started in 2016 August. So hence the name
Wovoyage = Women voyage
Trusted Travel Buddies
I believe this name has loads of power in it.
Another research shows that when foreigners/expats travel to India, they want the tour to be conducted by a genuine company rather than 3rd party travel agencies who will sell off their business for a commission. Also women travellers feel comfortable with women guides.
So we create women friendly customized packages, assign them expert women guides. For example, a German lady wants to shop in Delhi. We assign them a girl who knows German and an expert in shopping. Making it safe and fearless travel for foreigners and at same time empower Indian women with employment. We were mostly online in early days but we just started a Women Friendly Travel Centre in New Delhi near Connaught Place. It’s the first of a kind female friendly travel centre in India. We are proud of it and we are going to change the perception of travel companies in India.
There is a big demand for Quality, Secure and risk free travel in India by foreigners/expats and we are looking to deliver them to our clients as seamlessly as possible. They are more than happy to pay for such service without hassle as long as all that is promised is catered without compromising quality.
What was the biggest turning point in your life that changed your mind to become an entrepreneur?
I have always been active in improving our society, encouraging people to keep their surroundings clean, talking about our country’s culture, food and helping people in need.
I had a big road accident in 2011 and I was admitted in the ICU of a government hospital for 12 days. My life was saved by best wishes of my well wishers and full efforts of our best doctors. It took quite long to recover from this accident. I experienced the pain people go through, how deaf people feel, how blind people manage.
I started traveling as soon as I recovered and regularly used to perform “seva” at the Manikaran Gurudwara in Himachal Pradesh. There I used to accompany foreigners and tell them about Sikh culture and India. I also started working with NGOs along with travelling and whilst doing that I was stuck with the idea of Wovoyage.
I felt that it’s my duty to improve my country’s image as India is really incredible. What I am going to do with, I’ll definitely change people’s lives. Here wovoyage happens.
How big is your team?
We are 5 people working in operations and we have 37 freelancer women guides. We prefer hiring female staff which suits the business model and at same time empowers Indian women with employment. We name them Super Guides.
How Wovoyage helps travellers plan and book personalised trips at the best prices? How does it work?
We have some fixed packages which these travellers book online with having special options of female tour guides and women special hotels. We also book for people travelling in a mixed group or only women to offbeat places in India. When it comes to women, if they want to travel by bus to hill station eg. from Delhi to Manali, we get them front seats in luxury buses at a lesser price than online bus seats selling companies. We design budget packages which people start going on weekends so they don’t have to go on different sites to book their travel like bus,hotel/hostel or their treks.
We also specialise in Japan (have office there) even backpack, Srilanka (made senior women travel there), Bhutan, Singapore, Dubai, Korea.
What makes Wovoyage one-stop women-friendly travel platform?
It’s a very new industry and we are probably the first one to offer such a kind of service. There was always a demand for a Female Friendly Travel Company (specially for foreigners).
- We provide female guides who are specialised in some activities like German woman who wants to shop in india and fluent in german. So we provide them with a girl from NIFT who speaks German. So we are helping both ways.
- We stay 24/7 connected with them and assign managers.
- Women special hostel/hotels.
- We also have introduced carpooling service from Delhi to Agra- a one day trip where women from different countries and cities travel together with budget.
- We also work as a travel consultant to help women backpackers specially plan their trip to Japan and travel on a budget and if they are vegetarians, also help with city restros.
Have you raised funds so far? What are your future plans?
We are Bootstrapped, we are looking to get seed funding to open up more Female Friendly Travel Centers across the country .
What keeps you going?
I am very happy with how the wovoyage idea has taken shape. I learnt that experience is bigger than any academic qualification, you meet new people with similar mindset, you meet new people with entirely different mindset, but those who are motivated, influenced with your idea will definitely join along.
What are your messages for budding entrepreneurs/young generation?
- First Find what you are good at .
- Second, do what you are good at.
- Success will be yours.
- That’s how I did it.