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ToRoots : Harnessing the untapped potential of authentic tourism in India

ToRoots Explorers. They aim to provide a different experience to travelers on the Indian soil, focus on experiential travel rather than sightseeing packages.


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CoFoundersTown

3 years ago | 4 min read

Do you think traveling and touristing are two different things? Are you bored of just visiting the usual spots mentioned in sightseeing packages? Do you crave the real essence of a new city? Do you want to explore new cultures when you travel? If yes, join us in this conversation with the startup founders of ToRoots Explorers.

You can opt to stay at traditional huts (known as Dhanis) while booking your trip with ToRoots

Here, we have Mr. Naveen Kumar Meena and Mr.Mohit Sharma in conversation about their start-up venture ToRoots Explorers. They aim to:

  • provide a different experience to travelers on the Indian soil.
  • focus on experiential travel rather than sightseeing packages.
  • take the travelers to various unexplored places, where they can have a taste of culture and heritage of India.
  • be the one-stop shop for travelers who wish to experience authentic rural culture.

Since the time they started in 2016, they haven’t focused on making profits but enhancing the user experience. Although it’s a practice long forgotten in the Indian market, the founder still feels that the validation phase is important. The company now boasts of 500 customers who have been their regulars since the beginning.

RECOGNIZING THE NEED FOR AUTHENTIC TRAVEL EXPERIENCES

Just like other startups, the founder felt that there was a lack of authentic travel experience in the market and hence took the step to do the value addition. What helped him during this period was his experience of working on his own site and a couple of startups in the past. During his graduation in the arts stream, he started a website called college.co.com, which eventually went to become a premier platform for local engineering students to find placements and internships.

Naveen says, “Though there have been ups and downs throughout the journey of Toroots, and leaving a high-paying job and venturing out on our own has been difficult, I have never ever felt that I am not on the right path and do not have any regrets.”

After that, he worked with two startups for a year each gaining significant positions in short duration of time. During that time, he decided that he wanted to do something different in the travel genre, which definitely marked the new beginning of his career.

The authentic experiences range from staying in the traditional huts and getting an experience of working in the farms to living in the royal rooms of the kings and learning to climb a tree.

A group of tourists learning how to climb a tree
A group of tourists learning how to climb a tree

WHERE DID THE NAME “TOROOTS” COME FROM?

The company derives its name “ToRoots” from the roots of India, highlighting the importance of this start-up venture. The founders have an eagle’s eye view on the tourism sector, where they feel that “rural” India has a higher potential to grab the attention of travelers from across the world.

Handling tourists have always been a challenge for the travel domain. However, here as Naveen explains about the escorts accompanying tourists to the remote locations helps in understanding the security provided to the travelers at “Toroots Explorer”. The traction from solo travelers with Toroots is lesser in comparison to the group travelers. The company expects to venture into that target pool of travelers in the coming years.

THE UNTAPPED POTENTIAL OF RURAL TOURISM

According to Naveen, they see a lot of potential in the rural part of India where the talent in the villages goes to waste at times. They aim to provide an experience of rural India to the travelers as well as create opportunities for the villages dwelling in these areas. This initiative would jointly help the country and tourism grow towards a positive tomorrow.

Since the time of its foundation, the company has aimed at providing an authentic experience to the travelers in India and invest in data analytics to understand the traction in the tourism industry. This untapped potential in rural tourism will help in synergistic growth of the company and help in improving the socio-economic status of the villages.

WORKING AT GRASSROOT LEVEL

In conversation with Naveen, he highlighted the challenges they faced while building up a start-up of this kind. The uniqueness of this start-up has helped in generating the number of customers over a period of two years. However, they still aim to work better understanding the ground level difficulties faced by the travelers as well as coordinators. He highlighted that he visits most of the locations which are listed on the marketplace to understand the grassroots level difficulty involved.

BUILDING AND HEADING A TEAM

“The major challenge in any start-up is building up a team”, says Naveen.

We at Toroots have a strong team who have a background of travel blogging and sales operations in the tourism industry
-Naveen Meena.

ToRoots aims to build a strong platform once, and then collaborate with a community blogger network. The travel bloggers help in understanding the unexplored places better than maps in India. It takes a lot of effort to build a domain understanding the needs of travelers and bring stakeholders to make the investment.


CHALLENGES FACED

Start-ups go through many ups and downs, where you witness the challenges of your life crashing into your career. The main reason for a start-up to fail is the transformation from a mediocre designation to the CEO post. With ToRoots Explorers, the challenge has been building a strong team.

They faced crunch financial situations in the initial stages but that didn’t deter them. With time, Naveen himself took the driver’s seat for his start-up and worked towards building a strong team of sales operations, developer, and tourism experts. Currently, ToRoots is focusing mainly on the rural parts of India. They haven’t thought of cracking the international tourism marketplace.

FUTURISTIC GROWTH

ToRoots is essentially a marketplace where travel agencies, travel planners and village representatives can offer experiential packages. Travelers can then choose a package based on their preferred destinations and budget. Currently, the company is focusing on the rural part of Rajasthan. The company aims to explore over 50 locations in the upcoming months, and then aim for regions such as Maharashtra and North-east India.

With the authentic experiences in India, ToRoots aims to explore and dig deep down in the Indian culture. This, in turn, helps in empowering rural India and also helps ToRoots in gaining more traction in the market. The company also aims to engage in strategic collaboration with other travel industry experts, travel bloggers and village representatives in order to grow in the tourism industry.

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