“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”
Born in a little district Nizamabad of Andhra Pradesh, Phanindra Sama never thought that one day he will become a successful entrepreneur. He did his engineering from BITS Pilani and post graduation from Indian Institute of Savoir. And After that he was happy with his job in Bengaluru-based company. But one bad experience (although good for his future) led him to find solution for everyone who had ever faced that same problem that he had and made him a man behind Rs. 600 crore company. This incident resulted in building of one of India’s most popular portals i.e. RED BUS which changed the traditional way of bus booking.
“I am an professional. I had to find a solution”
– Phanindra Sama
Phanindra’s life was going smooth and he used to travel via bus to Hyderabad to meet his parents frequently. However on one fateful day in 2005, things didn’t not go as he had expected. It was Diwali time and he wanted to spend this festive time with his parents. So he decided to go and meet them. But On the way to his regular travel agent he got stuck in traffic and reached later. And till the time he reached, there was no ticket left for him. Usually his regular agent always help him to get a ticket but this time he himself was unable to get him a ticket and thus advised him to approach another travel agent. He approached another travel agent near by but got the same response from him and all the other agents he had visited after. This thing frustrated him. Poor Phanindra returned to his flat and spent the weekend thinking about this problem and why there was no solution to this yet. Being an engineer the solution was very evident to himself. He thought “Why couldn’t there be a computer system where all the bus providers can mention how many busses they run and accurately what is the live inventory at that time. So that people can contact only those bus operators who have vacant seats.”
That night he wrote a mail to all his friends explaining them that incident and Over the weekend he visited his regular travel agent and tried to extract all the possible information from him that could help him to understand the process of bus booking. The travel agent met many enthusiasts like Phanindra before who had totally failed at finding a way to this complex problem. So he advised him to go back and forget about this problem & its solution. But Sama had already decided that he would find answer to this in technology despite the fact that he didn’t knew anything coding or programming.For that he needed to understand how travel agents worked with bus operators. Unfortunately, Nobody was ready to answer his queries and he got disappointment from every office he visited. But fortunately one day he met a young travel agent who was also an engineer. He understood Phanindra’s vision and helped him to understand the process of bus booking. Now after having understanding of all this, he along with his flatmates decided to create a free, open sourced program for the travel companies. Phanindra was so passionate about it that he started learning coding and programming from scratch by books. After doing work for months the friends emerged up with the first version of the program. Yet there came another problem when the travel providers refused to use it as they saw no value in it.
All they wanted was to increase their sales & sell more tickets That is when it stuck him to develop a product for consumers which would allow those to book tickets and Redbus was born. After initial convincing the travel agents started to work with their product and they found their sales improving. It had been a major achievement for Redbus as people who were illiterates and performed not know how to use a computer got become experts employing their product and were taking advantage of it. When they formally launched Redbus they expected 90 bus operators logging on it in the next five years but the technological boom had strike India and they experienced 400 registrations from travel operators in the first year itself. In August 2014, Ibibo acquired Redbus for a whopping Rs 600 crore. Phanindra now has additional money in his bank account than what he could spent in his entire lifetime.
The best thing about that portal is that he did not start it as a money-making enterprise. He simply planned to find a solution and save anyone that would go through the same problem that he had faced. “The liberty that I have of looking at the world with a different point of view is absolutely non-tradable for any sort of money” For a few years it was extreme hardwork for Phanindra and his fantastic friends as their efforts are not appreciated by the people who got been working in the travel industry for many years. But nothing made Phanindra give up on his idea and that is what became a reason of his success.