Serial entrepreneurs Raj K Gopalakrishnan and Praveer Kochhar have more than just the business acumen in common. Both have, at one point or another, started up and demonstrated an unmistakable flair, running successful ventures in their respective domains.
With more than two decades of experience in the media and content space, Raj has explored advertising, events, and corporate communication (he was one of the first to explore this sector), before he successfully founded and exited companies like Firefly Entertainment, Blue Mango Films, Zeppelin Designs, and Yellout in the media and design space.
Praveer is a retail and technology professional with over 16 years of experience. He built I&S, a retail solutions company; invested and ran xBhp, India’s largest biking community; and incepted Shouut, a big data company.
Clearly, entrepreneurship is a common thread between the two, but it is not the only one. Passionate about biking and road trips, the duo also love travelling and exploring new places on their bikes. In fact, together they have covered more than 250,000 kms on the road on their motorcycles – a feat that certainly qualifies them as die-hard motorcycle enthusiasts.
Interestingly, it is this mutual connect that also led to the inception of Kogo, the latest chapter in their entrepreneurial journey together. Based out of Delhi, Kogo is a mobility tech company. Started in February this year, its combined hardware-AI platform enables automated content creation, travel discovery, and enhanced experiences.
A trip to Himalayas and a stark realisation
Recalling one of their road trips through the valleys of Himachal Pradesh, tucked between the mountains and lined with small villages and monasteries, Raj says:
“On a particular trip back from Spiti, we were searching for this particular Himalayan shack that made the most amazing chicken noodles that we had about two years ago, and we just could not remember the details.”
They tried looking for this shack, but in vain. Understandably, it is still a task to locate remote, lesser known places/restaurants on the map despite all the technological and GPS-enabled prowess.
While this trip didn’t quite bring the gastronomical delight the two were looking for, the experience somehow stuck with them. It made them realise and wonder how there was no tool or mechanism to capture such routes, moments, places, time, weather, and the various other details of the journey on road. “That’s when we had the eureka moment,” the tech entrepreneur quips.
“What if we had an invisible travel companion that could automatically capture our stories, which we could revisit, share, and use to help others discover places where we had been,” he says, adding that’s how Kogo was born.
Powering travel with AI and ML
Kogo is designed to automate. It takes the continuous data captured by the KogoBOT and uses AI to automatically write travel stories, live. This automated content, explains Raj, can be viewed as blogs, maps, cards, or videos, and can be shared across multiple platforms, media, and communities.
“Kogo has a very clear brand promise, ‘You travel. Kogo tells the story’,” he says.
Explaining how the travel platform uses a combination of hardware and a smart app to deliver on that promise, he adds: “The AI-powered KogoAPP, along with the sensor rich KogoBOT, records where you go and converts it into unique travel stories that can be easily edited, shared, and discovered anytime, anywhere.”
The KogoBOT is also travel-friendly. It’s designed in a way that it can fit easily with your luggage or be mounted with ease on a bike or a car. With a dedicated GPS and multiple sensors, the KogoBOT even offers unmatched accuracy, seven days of battery life with heavy usage, and up to 20 days of data when there is no network.
“We have launched the KogoBOT at an introductory price of Rs 7,749,” says Raj. This will come bundled with a sim card for the device and data for a year. The team at Kogo is also bundling the app at the moment, which will be priced at Rs 1,300 from the second year onwards.
The app, however, is free for users only viewing the content, according to Raj.
Pioneering real-time travel storytelling
For the digital-everything generation, travel and tourism is not just one of the industry domains, neither is it limited to taking that annual vacation. It’s a way of life, one presenting lucrative monetising potential.
Increasingly, the lines between travel and business are getting blurred, and with this, content creation is now an essential side to all the explorations.
In this social media-induced world of opportunities, Kogo enjoys a unique position as a category creator in the space of real-time and automated storytelling for travel. “We welcome competition in the space”, says the co-founder, adding on a quick note that so far, there is no other player operating in this real-time travel content space.
No wonder then that within ten days of the launch – back in February – Kogo managed to acquire 5,000 users and map over 100,000 kms of trails. Since the launch, adds Raj, it has also clocked Rs 30 lakh in revenue via content and device monetisation.
“Our core target audience includes road-trippers (both bike and car), trekkers, cyclists, and travel enthusiasts. Since our launch on Feb 1, 2020, our users have been primarily motorcycle and car tourers,” he shares.
The startup is currently enjoying a lion’s share of the domestic adventure tourism market, and with no major player posing competition at the moment, its prospects certainly look good. As the founder says,
“We raised $350,000 in the first round of funding. We are planning to raise another $2 million with a follow up round of $3 million.”
(Edited by Megha Reddy)
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