Ravi Kumar and Varun Jain , Entrepreneur Duo and Ud Chalo founders

Varun Jain, Co-Founder , Director & CEO & Ravi Kumar, Co-Founder & Director , Upcurve Business Services Pvt. Ltd
Varun Jain, Co-Founder , Director & CEO & Ravi Kumar, Co-Founder & Director , Upcurve Business Services Pvt. Ltd

This is the interview of Ravi Kumar and Varun Jain , Entrepreneur Duo and Ud Chalo founders.

Tell us a little about yourself

udChalo was founded by  Varun Jain who functions as the Co-Founder, Director & CEO of udChalo. Identified as India’s 40 under 40 by Business World, Varun Jain, an Army Institute of Technology graduate with a B.E Computers is a technology enthusiast with over 16 years of experience.

In his current capacity as the CEO and Director for Upcurve, Varun is responsible for Upcurve’s strategy for growth and scale.

Varun has a deep understanding and considerable experience in building Technology and Travel Products and Services Applications, Product Strategy and Design.

He worked with Persistent and is also the founding member of Tavisca Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Varun is passionate about new ideas evaluation, conceptualization and execution of innovative technology solutions in travel and consumer space. 

Ravi Kumar on the other hand functions as the Co-Founder & Director of udChalo.He is also a graduate from Army Institute of Technology (AIT) in 2009.

He is honoured with the ‘Young Entrepreneur Award 2020’ at Army Institute of Pune’s, 26th Foundation Day Ceremony and awarded the 40 under 40 most influential Asians for his contribution in travel by Asia One Magazine.

He has worked for companies like TATA Faurecia Automotive, Dassault Systems and is currently pursuing the Seed program from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

udChalo, a Brand of UpCurve Business Services Private Limited is an Online Travel portal for Defence Personnel.

The company was founded in 2012 by Army Institute of Technology graduates, Ravi Kumar and Varun Jain and cemented over the years with an aim to create a platform that helps the Indian Defence Personnel and their Dependents to travel with utmost ease and convenience.

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

The idea cemented over the years with an aim to create a platform that helps the Indian Defence Personnel and their Dependents to travel with utmost ease and convenience.

Ravi and Varun are both Army kids and through their experience over the years observed many Army personnel, their family members and veterans travel in general compartments due to unavailability of seats in the Railways which got them to analyze the travelling needs and pain points of our brave hearts during and after their services.

Their ideation for udChalo began with an objective to cater to the Defense forces and transfer waitlisted railway passengers to fill the vacant last-minute airline inventory.

udChalo, is the only OTA that has filled the gap of distress inventory for the airlines by bringing Defence railway customers in huge numbers.

Airlines always sought for a new market to fill their inventory. Moreover, during the lean seasons of air travel, airlines were never sure of their capacity utilization. 

By reaching out to the Defence market, udChalo became a true value chain partners for the entire aviation industry by giving them an access to a market that travel throughout the year without any seasonality effect. 

udChalo was co-founded in 2012 as a booking portal which provides exclusive domestic fares for the Indian Armed Forces, Ex-servicemen, Families and  Dependents.

udChalo offers services through the Website, APP platform and 50 plus Offline ticket booking offices with a presence across large Defense establishments, PAN India.

Today udChalo is proud to term itself as “Recognized Travel Partner for Indian Armed Forces” and is also approved by IATA.

What service(s) or product(s) do you offer?

Below are the services provided by udChalo

  • All modes of travel ( air, train, intercity taxis and bus services) with exclusive defence fares, MOU deals and benefits available on one platform
  • Low convenience fee
  • Offline Booking offices in remote areas where internet is not available
  • Website and Mobile App availability for bookings
  • Customised tailor made needs for Defence Personnel
  • Leave travel documentation- Pre-filled LTC forms

Additionally we also provide the following services – 

  • UTAX, Quick & Easy Tax Return Filing by udChalo Tax Experts, 100% Accuracy. Complete taxation services under one roof
  • Electronics- We have recently partnered with Samsung  to introduce a Defence Purchase Program for the Indian Armed Forces Personnel
  • Utility Bill Payment- udChalo Customers can pay their bills – Mobile, DTH, Electricity, Water, LPG, Piped Gas, Broadband, Digital Cable, Landline, Fast Tag and Google Play

What is unique about your business?

To always simplify the access, udChalo provides the Indian Armed Forces Personnel and thereby add ease to their travel planning experiences​.

  • A quick single view of travel services to book domestic flights, hotels, cabs, buses, trains and international flights. ​
  • A convenient aggregated platform to view all defence fares in one go​

To be of dedicated guidance and service to them every step of the way

  1. udChalo booking offices and customer care units are manned by ex-servicemen, war widows and dependants making personal interactions meaningful and comforting for our customers.​
  2. 24×7 customer care services to aid at any point of a travel journey
  3. Home delivery of tickets in certain areas of the country​
  4. udChalo makes it possible to make travel bookings over phone calls​

To make a Customers travel planning hassle-free and seamless​​

  1. udChalo offers an easy refund policy with a direct transfer to the respective account​
  2. udChalo offers pre-filled travel claim documents to quicken the travel processes​
  3. udChalo offers easy cancellations of bookings

udChalo operates in the niche market segment catering to the Indian Armed Forces community offering travel solutions that are specifically designed and developed keeping a soldier’s needs as the focal point.

The website and mobile app work as aggregators offering special airfares to Defence Personnel.  

  • Re-employment of Veterans and differently abled soldiers– A significant percentage of our workforce is from the Armed Forces.
  • We also operate a fully functional and professional customer care implant at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Center (PRC) in Pune and Mohali, thus actively engaging our differently abled soldiers for the excellence in customer service.
  • Physical presence and outreach in major defence establishments with 70 plus active booking offices: The booking offices serve as a lifeline for remote and poorly connected locations. We have booking offices in locations like Uri, Srinagar, Shillong to name a few.
  • udChalo Shradhanjali: udChalo has taken up the responsibility of providing free air ticket to ‘Next of Kin’, (NOK) in an unfortunate scenario when a soldier falls in the battlefield
  • Judchalo- A platform for Dependants, Ex-servicemen, Veer Naris who would like to be associated and work with promoting udChalo to the Defence forces community
  • Company Chalo, is one such platform that works with Veterans to help them get a second career opportunity. Company Chalo, aims to match your skills, goals, and personality to your next job.
  • It focuses on reaching out to different industries, in order that our ex-servicemen get an opportunity from a wide array of options enabling them to use their core competencies and utilize the various skills they have learnt during their years in the service.

Company Chalo through its connect has placed many veterans across various sectors like manufacturing, chemicals, paper, waste management among others.

This initiative has been true to udChalo’s overall moto of ‘Service for Services’ and Vision of ‘Making life simpler for our Soldiers.’ The unit is headed by a Veteran with extensive corporate experience.

What was your mission at the outset?

Our motto is service for services with a vision to To make life simpler for soldiers and a mission To Build Unique, Convenient and Cost- Effective Platforms for our Soldiers to access Consumer Products & Services.

How many employees in your organization?

A total of 201+13 staff from Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centres, Pune and Mohali= 214

What’s your company’s goals?

Our idea when we started the company was to empower the lives of the Indian Defence Personnel, Veterans their Dependants and Non Defence Personnel with simple travel choices and solutions, offering a range of unparalleled travel experiences and the best services powered by technology and round-the-clock customer support.

We also define our company core values as mentioned below in detail –
People –Centricity: We believe that putting the ‘People’ first, be it our employees, customers or partners, leads to great business results.

Integrity (Transparency & Fairness):We believe that ‘Integrity’ lays the foundation of our Individual and Corporate actions. We are transparent, fair, honest and ethical at personal and organization levels.

Excellence (Reliability & Passion): We believe in going beyond the call of our duty to achieve ‘Excellence’ in whatever we do. Our passion drives us to achieve greater business results.

Teamwork (We-centric, Democratic & Collaborative): We believe that ‘Team’ goals are above personal goals and we leverage on collaboration to achieve desired business results. We also believe in inclusive decision making leading to enriched experience during times of change.

Empowering with Accountability: We believe in Empowering our people so that they can find creative ways to contribute to business results. We take ‘Responsibility’ for our work and honour our commitments.

How do you build a successful customer base?

With majority of our team members having Defence backgrounds, we are one with our Customer and understand their requirements and thus enable them by providing the best solutions through our services. 

We work with dedication and integrity and innovate new ideas and ways to bring the best services to our Customer base. Our customers trust our services and have been with us over the years.

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

The travel domain has its own set of challenges and in order to keep pace with them, one needs to be on their toes.

Varun Jain believes in innovation and taking challenges head on. At udChalo we keep pace with developing cross-platform activities.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Varun Jain

  • My first inspiration was Mr. Lee Iacocca – ‘You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere
  • Many values I have garnered of the years are from Mr Mahendra Yadav, the CEO of my first startup – Tavisca Solutions Pvt Ltd.
    • Care for your people, and they will take care of everything else.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Varun Jain– Based on the thoughts from his role models.

Does your company help the community or society?

Our company was primarily founded to serve the Armed Forces Community and all our services are conceptualised to make a soldier’s life easy.

Our customers are Serving Personnel, Veterans & Dependants from Indian Army, Indian Air force, Indian Navy, Indian Paramilitary Forces, Coast Guard.

We cater to more than 2.8 million serving Defence Personnel and additionally to their Dependants and the Veterans community. 

At udChalo, we operate in the niche market segment catering to the Indian Armed Forces Community.

Our solutions are specifically designed and developed keeping a soldier needs as the focal point with an aim to make life simpler for the Soldier.

We strive to make the travel planning experiences and overall journey a smooth ride for our Personnel in the Indian Armed Forces, Paramilitary forces, Veterans and their Dependents. ​

We have also taken up the initiative of creating awareness to the masses about our Ex-Servicemen, Retired Soldiers and War Heroes through various Campaigns run on Veterans Day for the past 3 years.

We got the audience to Appreciate, Recognize, Salute and Honour Veterans for their Service in simple and meaningful ways. Some links to the videos of Veterans.

Besides this we also offer other services like:

Re-employment of Veterans and differently abled soldiers– A significant percentage of our workforce is from the Armed Forces.

We also operate a fully functional and professional customer care implant at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Center (PRC) in Pune and Mohali, thus actively engaging our differently abled soldiers for the excellence in customer service.

जुड़Chalo- जुड़Chalo, an initiative by udChalo to create awareness amongst troops regarding new LTC rules for JCOs/OR on how to avail LTC benefits using udChalo platform.

जुड़Chalo is a program for Ex-Serviceman, Defence Wives and Dependants to showcase their mettle in Business Development and Marketing. 

Company Chalo, is one such platform that works with Veterans to help them get a second career opportunity in the corporate world.

Company Chalo, aims to match your skills, goals, and personality to your next job. It focuses on reaching out to different industries, in order that our ex-servicemen get an opportunity from a wide array of options enabling them to use their core competencies and utilize the various skills they have learnt during their years in the service.

Company Chalo through its connect has placed many veterans across various sectors like manufacturing, chemicals, paper, waste management among others.

This initiative has been true to udChalo’s overall moto of ‘Service for Services’ and Vision of ‘Making life simpler for our Soldiers.’ The unit is headed by a Veteran with extensive corporate experience.

Shradhanjali-udChalo Shradhanjali initiative provides a free ticket to NOK or one person accompanying mortal remains of fatal battle casualties. 

AIT Scholarship-As a tribute to Army Institute of Technology, Pune, udChalo instituted the AIT scholarship for deserving and meritorious students of the Institute.

Each year scholarship of Rs. 4 lakhs is given to AIT on its foundation day, extending benefit to 64 students till date.

Website / URL : https://www.udchalo.com

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