Travelling helps one unwind from the daily stresses of life. It is an escape route to paradise – where one can experience different cultures and locations. But, travelling can often get hard. Often people who want to travel, don’t end up doing so because they can’t find a companion or friend who is willing to go with them. That is the primary reason why budding travelers don’t experience life to the fullest although they want to.
Similarly, Shefali Walia is a budding traveler and has loved to explore new places, cultures and people. Someone who doesn’t wait for plans or friends to decide whether to travel or not, Shefali realized that many people were apprehensive of travelling because of their fear of solo travelling. That’s why she created We Travel Solo to transform the travel sphere in India. Her platform acts as an Interest Network that is transforming stranger networking from online to offline by connecting like-minded solo travelers. The website allows users to plan their trips, find like-minded people doing the same things and to enhance their travel experience with others. The website also allows people to take part in experiences in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, which include music events, amusement park trips among a plethora of other options.
Shefali says that there’s a big mental block in travelling alone – especially in our country. There are innumerable travel enthusiasts who can potentially use their services to build their own trip, one that revolves completely around them. With no commitments to plans you don’t wish to partake in, the who travel experience becomes all the more fun with We Travel Solo. And having like-minded people travelling alongside promises to make solo trips a whole lot of fun. Shefali wishes to make travelling solo from an outlier to the in-thing, and with some wide reach now, this concept has now become a trend.
We caught up with this super-entrepreneur and chatted with her about her thriving startup:
Hi Shefali, being a startup entrepreneur is difficult. What made you want to be one?
Well, before taking the leap of entrepreneurship, I have worked as a strategy and marketing consultant for companies in a wide variety of sectors like E-Commerce, beauty, health care and infrastructure. I have always been a risk taker with abundance of faith in place. I believe faith can only be shackled if it is an acquired faith, but not the faith in innovation with the charm of doing and creating something new. Therefore when I found these gaps in the travel industry, I wanted to plug them instantly and that’s how I decided to start off with We Travel Solo.
Women entrepreneurs are a rare breed in this ecosystem. What sort of challenges did you face and what sort of motivation did you fall back on?
Entrepreneurship, I believe requires the same endurance irrespective of gender. Women are known to have better endurance, that being a plus, but yes, first-time women entrepreneurs have more to prove to begin with. Being a solo woman founder – business performance and growth is the only thing that can speak for you louder than anything else. Rest all external challenges can be dealt with patience.
What motivates me is that we are here trying to create behaviour among Indian Markets that Being Solo is no more Being Along. With the We Travel Solo community, we are changing how we looked at travelling and holidays. That, and the parallel journey of convincing both investors as well as consumers (laughs)
What do you think works for your startup, We Travel Solo?
We have created a strong customer value proposition that offers life changing experiences for solos, where they find like-minded people who become their real friends, BFFs, love interests, mentors, hangout buddies, companions or business partners. Such connects are long lasting and create a stickiness to the platform, ensuring high percentage of repeat customers. With our well researched and curated tech platforms live, we intend to create stronger connections between solos online as well as offline. We are further curating travel experiences from many niche sectors for specialized players to host Solos over interest based trips, activities and events.
And finally, some words for our aspiring entrepreneurs, especially our women readers, please?
Firstly, have the ability to make people trust you and the ability to trust yourself irrespective of the situation. Keep going, it is not the destination but the journey. Nobody can stop you, if you keep going. Never stop at failure irrespective of the count. Secondly, reach out since there are far many people ready to help you then you would have expected. Just don’t shy away from seeking help and learning. And in the end, let your work speak for you. If you have to rely on anything, let it be your work.
With over 50,000 registered users across their platforms, We Travel Solo has come a long way in an short run and if their recent success is anything to go by – travelling solo will no longer be an outlier but instead be a trend in this country.