Ayur Universe

Ayur Universe

Your Product and tag line

All-inclusive Ayurveda and Yoga programs in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Product Idea

AyurUniverse is a technology platform, that uses technology as a catalyst to promote Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation to wellness enthusiasts, world over. We have today more than 2,500 wellness programs at different locations, offered by over 300 different service providers at different price points and different therapies and treatments across India and Sri Lanka. In the last two years since we launched, we have got visitors from more than 190 countries and leads from over 107 countries and we have got customers who have made booking through our platform from more than 45 countries – which shows the potential that this segment has. More importantly, we have got business not only during the peak season but we have broken the trend by getting customers throughout the year. We have three major verticals – one is Ayurveda & Yoga Training, second segment is Wellness – which is more preventive kind of wellness like Panchakarma, rejuvenation, destress and the third category is Ailment Management where Ayurveda and Yoga can help such as Arthritis, Diabetes and even more complex issues like Bipolar.

Product Features

AyurUniverse offers over 2500 Wellness programs from over 300 verified wellness centers in India and Sri Lanka. These all- inclusive packages range from 3-30 days for Beauty care, De- stress, Detoxification/ Panchakarma, Rejuvenation, Weight management, Wellness breaks, Yoga retreats, internationally recognized Yoga Teacher Training as well as ailment management programs for Arthritis, Diabetes and much more.

How did this idea strike you?

Basically, I am a marketing person and I got involved in wellness tourism as a result of an investment I made in a financially down wellness centre in Mysore, Karnataka.

That was my first foray into wellness and I realised there is a fantastic potential to grow this market because of its dependence on seasons and more importantly because it is controlled by international travel agents who give business only four months a year. The balance 8 months of the year, the wellness centers struggle and that I saw as an opportunity.

What is the problem you are solving for your users?

Traditionally wellness travelers have had to depend on travel agents to help them explore and book wellness programs. Today with AyurUniverse, they can search, research, consult, explore and book the perfect wellness holiday/program to suit their budget, choice of neighbourhood and travel dates all by themselves – reducing travel booking time from one week to one day.

Who are your founding team, and their background?

VIJAY KUMAR RAI
FOUNDER & CEO

AyurUniverse was founded by Vijay Kumar Karai. Vijay brings over 18 years of corporate experience in Sales, Marketing and Operations working for brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi and 4 years as CEO of various start-ups. It was during his time as CEO and co-investor of an Ayurvedic spa in Mysore, India, that he realized the potential for an online wellness portal. Vijay holds an MBA from University of Southern California, USA and Bachelor of Science from Hyderabad, India. He is a proud husband and father of two boys and quite naturally an avid wellness enthusiast, scuba diver, amateur squash player and a keen reader. He also helps his sons run an NGO “Thread India” that helps and motivates underprivileged children to follow their dream career.

Srikanth Kumarasamy General Manager – Operations

Srikanth has close to three decades of experience and most of it comes from the IT industry, working for MNCs like R&R Donnelly, Samsung and Microsoft. He was part of the start up teams in India for these Indian subsidiaries. Srikanth is a fitness enthusiast. He’s an ultra marathoner and a yoga practitioner. He holds a B.Tech (Hons.) in Electronics & Electrical Communication Engineering from IIT Kharagpur. He’s also a Professional Certified Coach from the International Coach Federation.

Shalu Pillai Manager – Content

As manager for content, Shalu aims to provide readers a wealth of information on Ayurveda, understanding how it works as well as. Shalu was previously travel editor for one of Middle East’s leading travel and tourism publication and long- time resident of Dubai, UAE. Her work, many travels and long-time association in the industry has given her much insight to the way we travel. A Spa fanatic, she now looks forward to discovering Indian wellness – the holistic way.

Advisors:

Dr Ramkumar Kutty

Ex- CEO of Arya Vaidya Pharmacy and current Founder and CEO of Vaidyagrama, Coimbatore

S N Ladhani Director

Mr Ladhani is an accomplished businessman who understands the potential of new and innovative business ideas and the company has funded and launched several new businesses in India. Among those are Air Deccan, India’s first low cost airline and several projects in Bangalore and Pune together with The Embassy Group. The company is also one of the largest, independent Coca-Cola bottlers in India since 1993.

The company has funded AyurUniverse and Mr Ladhani acts as a mentor and guide for AyurUniverse.The Ladhani Group is also in the process of setting up a ‘one-of-its-kind’ spiritual village which consists of an ashram, a high-end wellness spa and a residential complex, near the holy city of Rishikesh in India.

What is the biggest challenge you faced as an entrepreneur while establishing your startup?

One of the biggest challenges is there are not enough ayurvedic resorts, retreats or destress centres outside traditionally popular states like Kerala. The second challenge is the lack of categorization of these various segments and third challenge is awareness of Ayurveda and Yoga for ailments / health purposes is pretty low including in India. So, I see that as a challenge in terms of its benefits.

How did you overcome it?

We are actively reaching out to and promoting wellness centers across India to be able to give customer in India and those from outside a wider choice to choose from.

AyurUniverse has created its own resort categorization – luxury, resort& spa, Ayurvedic Center, Ayurvedic Hospitals and have done categorized our centers based on their offerings/ location/ package budget, so that customers can easily find what they are looking for.

What is the biggest learning so far in your entrepreneurial journey?

Be quick: The startup culture is growing tremendously and with so many players in the market, you have no time to waste. Got an idea and inspired to make it grow? Then head to market as soon as possible. Because every day lost is an opportunity lost.

Be flexible: While you have the perfect business plan for your business, it is vital to remain flexible and adapt to new realities. Industry trends, customer preferences keep changing so sticking to the original plan always might not work.

Invest in the team: Your team will be your backbone; the family that will help your idea / dream grow. Invest in them and they will invest in the jobs. Do not look only for pedigree but also for their commitment, experience, know- how and networks

Who is your mentor/role model? What’s the best lesson you learnt from them?

So many role models. One is Phanindra Sama, ex co- founder of redbus. He launched an online portal and managed to regulate a highly chaotic market segment so effectively. Today, it is one of the fastest growing company that has revolutionized the way people book bus tickets.

Captain Gopinath of Air Deccan, for his vision and ability to bring about change the Indian aviation market.

The pioneer of India’s LCCs, he changed the face of the Indian aviation industry by launching a model to keep costs low so that air travel became affordable to the common man. He also encouraged other LCCs to take birth in India, changing thw ay we fly forever.

Narayan Murthy, co-found of Infosys is known for pioneering the outsourcing industry in India. But success did not come easily to him. It took Infy 23 years to make their first billion but the second billion came within the next two years. His commitment and willing to pursue his dream and not look for overnight success makes him a real role model.

l What’s your revenue model?

We charge a minimal marketing fee to wellness centers for every booking made.

Journey so far (When you launched, how far is the traction so far?)

AyurUniverse is India’s largest, most trusted online wellness platform that promotes Indian wellness systems like Ayurveda and Yoga. We are also the first-of-its-kind wellness portal that aims to disrupt the wellness market that has been traditionally operated by foreign agents or tour operators.

Traditional wellness offerings like Ayurveda and Yoga are gaining popularity with a large number of people choosing alternate therapies instead of conventional medicine. But not all centers / Ayurvedic Hospitals who provide excellent treatments and therapies are able to reach their full potential because of limited marketing spends and global reach. Together with AyurUniverse, these centers have the opportunity to reach a wider global audience and thereby boost revenues. Since we have launched, we today offers over 2500 wellness packages from 300+ centers in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal with plans to expand to Bali in the New Year.

We have also successfully launched our Kumbh Mela Allahabad campaign, tapping into the spiritual tourism market.

What are your future plans with your startup?

Right now, our site is only in English. We want to go multilingual, so we are able to reach out to customer – whether they are sitting in China, Russia, Germany or whichever part of the world. There is a big segment in this market called Secondary Wellness where people are travelling for a holiday but they want a healthy holiday – so they combine Yoga, Meditation and other Ayurvedic therapies like Abhyangam, which will be part and parcel of their holiday.

How do we combine wellness with holiday makers, is an area which want to work on with various hotels and resorts across the country – and outside the country – to promote yoga and Ayurveda to customers worldwide.

We also plan to onboard more centers from more countries starting immediately with Bali in 2019.

Have you raised funding before? If yes, how much and from whom? (Optional if confidential)

Yes, we have raised funding In 2018 from LSN Ladhani, the promoter of Air Deccan of $5 million.

Are you looking for raising more funds? If yes, how much?

Yes.

What will the funds be utilized for?

  • Boost technology to achieve scale: Introduce various technology tools like Virtual Reality, Mobile App for Info- Ecommerce, chat bots and machine learning to automate engagement and showcase the wellness centers to a global audience.

-Going Global: Aggregate over 1000 Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation Centers across the world in the next 60 months.

-Customer Engagement: Become the thought leader in Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation tourism by investing in marketing to Build Brand awareness and loyalty in 36-48 months.

  • Business Growth: To grow the Business to Rs.1000 Crores (GMV) in the next 5 years.

Give us a brief about your market/domain?

Wellness Tourism is a relatively new segment in the tourism industry. Globally it’s a $563 Billion business out of which International Wellness Tourism is about $136 Billion and there is estimated 116 million trips being made outside their home country, so it’s a huge market and in terms of the growth rate, it is growing faster than any other segment of the industry. India has some fantastic wellness systems in form of Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation, Siddha etc. Yoga has already become popular globally while Ayurveda is still to catch up. But in terms of the size of the market, India is relatively still very low – probably 1 or 1.5 percent of the global market.

Who are your competitors?

AyurUniverse is India’s first wellness platform that brings the various Indian wellness systems under one roof.

Other international companies like bookyogatretreats.com focus only on Yoga teacher training and Yoga retreats.

How are you planning to outpace your competitors?

While there are international aggregators who are using technology to boost traditional Indian wellness systems like Ayurveda and Yoga to wellness enthusiasts from across the world. Today through AyurUniverse, several small or mid- sized Ayurvedic centres which are operated by expert doctors but have a limited or no marketing budget are reaching out to a global audience to grow their revenues. AyurUniverse is also reaching out to the Indian market ensuring wellness centers are not dependent on the peak season for guests/ occupancies.

Our USPs are:

AyurUniverse offers over 300 centers and 2500 plus packages, offering you choice like no one else.

All-inclusive packages – Accommodation, Food, Therapy / Training sessions, Airport transfers.

Customized packages to suit your need – Ayurveda, Yoga, Wellness, Ailment Management, Holistic treatment.

Ease of access to your advisors 24X7 – on mail, phone, chat, Whatsapp

Free doctor consultation- Knowledge centre (blog) on Ayur Universe site

Best value deals Personally, verified wellness centers Easy and Flexible booking system- allowing customers to book based on location, price, star-rating, facilities, etc.

What’s your tip for newbie entrepreneur?

Be passionate about your project: A founder must lead from the front, set an example to his team and peers in the industry. There is no dearth of competition out there, so if you don’t know your project like the back of your hand, you’re unlikely to be successful.

Invest own money and time into the project and be a hands- on entrepreneur. Remember, a start-up not a part-time job and needs 100% dedication.

Follow your instinct: Do not depend completely on pre- existing data. It is hard to find 100% data to validate all your decisions. Make the best of what the data in hand and take decisions based on what your ‘gut’ says.

Take advice: Your startup might be your own baby but it takes a village to raise baby. Always speak to peers from the industry to improve your understanding of what works in the current market situation. Have a bunch of mentors, advisors who can give you first-hand invaluable tips and use that to create something unique.

Associating with experts in the industry will also add value to your business.

Talk to your potential customers: Ultimately customer is king and you will need to know everything about these people, for these people. Speak to potential customer to understand what is lacking, what needs changed and how their receptivity to your product or service idea. Understand your customer and you will serve them better.

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