Travel, the local way - SeekSherpa

Travel, the local way

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(SeekSherpa — March 23, 2015)


How many of us have the courage to follow our passion instead of opting for the safe route of taking up a regular job? Through this column, we share extraordinary stories of ordinary people who turned their passion into a profession.
Sukhmani Singh held a steady job with a management consulting firm for two and a half years before quitting to set up a travel guide venture, along with college friend Dhruv Raj Gupta. Their brainchild, Seek Sherpa, is a mobile marketplace, where travellers and locals connect over in-city tours and hyperlocal information.

“It was a tough decision to shift from a full-time job to set up our venture,” recalls Singh, a commerce graduate from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi. “Both Dhruv and I are eager travellers. We were always eager to interact with the locals and gain insights into their lives and city during our college trips. We enjoyed our tours even more when the chef of a restaurant we would eat at spoke to us or the locals guided us in choosing what to order.”

The duo’s moment of realisation to start a travel guide company, which connects travellers and locals, came on a trek to Triund in Himachal Pradesh. A little dog accompanied them and showed them the way till the top of the hill. “Had that dog not been there, we would have lost our way. This motivated us to create a platform where locals would have an opportunity to offer their skills and knowl edge to help travellers enjoy,” says Singh The company’s journey started with Nasscom’s 10,000 Start-ups programme last year, when Singh and Gupta’s idea was among the top 300 selected from more than 4,000 business venture proposals.

Recounts Singh, “After the selection, we went through multiple rounds of speed pitching and were finally picked up by Venture Nursery (VN), an angel backed start-up accelerator, for its boot camp in January 2014. This was a turning point and both Dhruv and I decided to quit our job and go big or go home.”

Singh and her partner then got the business into their skin through hands-on mentor ship by travel in dustry mavens.After raising seed funding through VN, they were ready to move on to their goal – operationalising the idea of establishing a company that would make travelling a whole new experience. “The journey has been nothing short of exhilarating -replete with victories, mistakes and most of all, learning,” she says.

Currently, Seek Sherpa conducts over 350 locally curated tours in Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Kolkata through their travel guides called Sherpas, who help travellers know more about local culture. The Sherpas, who conduct these tours, are a mix of students, white-collar workers, artists, lawyers, photographers, musicians and chefs with one common trait – their love for the city. Concludes Singh, “They are all inherent travellers who love meeting new people, exchanging cultures, sharing local knowledge and expertise and earning supplementary income. This is what keeps them going.”

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