India has the fourth-largest railway network in the world by size and runs over 13,000 passenger trains daily carrying over 23 million passengers daily and over 8 billion passengers per year, as per data for March 2018. Indian Railway generated over $ 7.3 billion in passenger revenue for the same period.
For a country with over 1.3 billion population, the travail of train ticket booking is a long and harrowing task and a wait-listing experience. Confirmtkt, an online train ticket discovery and booking app, provides assured confirmed ticket to any destination in India removing uncertainty using machine learning to predict waitlisted train ticket confirmation and suggesting alternative travel options.
Manish Joshi from NewsBarons connects with Sripad Vaidya, co-founder of ConfirmTkt, who informs ‘We accomplishes this through an advanced data and machine learning system that can predict confirmations for waitlisted trains with 94% accuracy, and suggests alternate travel routes or trains, in case tickets on direct trains are not available.’
NB: Tell us about Confirmtkt?
Sripad: Confirmtkt is an online train ticket discovery and booking engine which delivers a seamless search and booking experience to travelers. Solving the problem of waitlist tickets in India, the platform predicts the status of waitlisted tickets to passengers and suggests alternate travel options to them in case of the unavailability of direct connecting trains. Confirmtkt leverages data analytics and machine learning to ensure that any customer, who logs on to the platform, even at the last minute, leaves with a ‘confirmed ticket’. This core mission is also the inspiration behind the name of our company. Our platform also facilitates real-time train tracking, even in the offline mode, using the information about various train routes generated from mobile towers.
NB: What is the competitive landscape?
Sripad: We do have a few competitors in this space, like ixigo and Railyatri. While ixigo’s train booking app is used for low-cost user acquisition and is aimed at converting those users to transact for flights, Railyatri mainly concentrates on the trip experience by providing the right information at the right time.
What sets us apart from our competitors is our unique and innovative features, such as predicting the ticket status with high accuracy and sharing alternative travel options. By utilizing unused seats, our platform provides its users end-to-end itineraries to help them in completing their journeys.
NB: You have raised funds?
Sripad: Till date, we have raised INR 1.5 crore through an angel round of funding by marquee investors Pravin Agarwala and Sasidhar Imadabathuni and a follow-up funding round by Venture Catalysts. Urrshila Kerkar, the executive director of Cox and Kings, also participated in the latter.
More than 70% of these funds have been deployed for technology and team advancements.
NB: What are your expansion plans?
Sripad: While we only have users from metro cities at present, we are working towards penetrating deeper into non-metro and tier-2 cities where new internet users are now coming online. The product and marketing strategies are already aligned with our expansion plans.
NB: Inform us on the role of AI and ML in your venture?
Sripad: In a bid to create unique brand salience in the minds of Indian travelers, amid undifferentiated offerings from competitors in the online travel industry, we are using AI and advanced machine learning algorithms to accurately predict the ticket confirmation probability for wait listed trains. We also use graph based technology to suggest alternative travel options, in case the original travel choice is not available.
NB: What is mission 2020?
Sripad: We envision establishing Confirmtkt as a multimodal travel search engine in India that can suggest the best available travel options and also complete the booking with a single payment option, even if multiple modes of transport are involved. We will be investing more into developing our platform’s voice-based capabilities. The ultimate idea is to inculcate a sense of confidence among users that they will get a confirmed ticket to travel to their destination of choice, anytime they want.