A few years back Hazzaz Imtiaz along with his wife went to Darjeeling. As it was close to Bangladesh, they did not think of planning ahead of the trip. Soon they experienced the hassle of not planning a trip! It is then Hazzaz realized the need for a trip planner and decided to start his own startup. Soon he came up with Ghuri which is now taking part in GP Accelerator and selected as one of the top 5 teams.
Ghuri is a marketplace for travelers who want to travel within or out of Bangladesh. It helps customers to make a perfect travel plan, based on the available deals on hotel rooms, air tickets, tour packages, transports, and attractions. The founding team is based in Europe which gives them the advantage to offer organized European tours and market local tours to a large prosperous NRB audience. At the moment there is no one else in Bangladesh who is doing similar things as Ghuri. There are a few aggregators but they are mostly doing a subset of what Ghuri is doing.
The original idea was to let travelers describe in a natural language his requirements or the experiences he is seeking, and a chatbot in the site or in the app will be able to bring the best possible packages for him. But as a startup, they currently want to create a customer base and thus focusing more on the sales and marketing while they develop the technology platform. They are signing up travel agent/tour operators/resorts or hotels in the system and customizing packages based on requirements. Once they have a customer base, they will soon get the chatbot ready.
The startup is currently focused on improving their app and site which will give them the best chance to reach the audience. Through the app and site, they are allowing the customers to easily get the visa works done which usually is quite a mundane job.
Besides local and foreign trip management, Ghuri is now coming up with an exciting offer for 1 or 2 day trip around Dhaka. The startup will handle these events personally allowing customers to customize them as much they want.
Ghuri gets several hundred unique visitors to the site daily with 26% repeat visitors. They are signing up 2 or more partner businesses every day and there are more than 50 foreign travel packages at the moment along with several local travel events. Currently, they are reaching their customers through social media, paid and organic SEO, advertising to other portals, ad words, email campaigns etc.
The team got into the GP Accelerator program with an objective to get funding and mentorship. While asked about the experience from the program, Hazzaz said, “We have gained a lot from the program. We learned a lot about team building, management, marketing & sales. What works in Bangladesh is often unique from other countries in the world. This is a learning process as we are transforming ourselves to become a world-class company.”
As a travel tech company, they are facing constraints in Bangladesh to reach the customers. Syed Raju Hossain, who is in charge of business development of Ghuri said, “Technical innovation often doesn’t draw the customers in Bangladesh. A lot of marketing has to be done to get the attraction of the customers which is quite hard for a startup as its requires to burn through cash rather quickly. We are glad to take part in the GP Accelerator program. It is not only helping us with the funding and mentorship but also with the networking which is amazing.”
Asking about the plan for future they said, “In 6 months time, Ghuri hopes to have a significant share in travel & tourism industry in Bangladesh. We will have a couple of products which can be marketed and sold around the world.”