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udChalo: Making lives simpler for soldiers

This startup caters to a niche consumer segment of 30 million armed forces, veterans and their dependents

udChalo: Making lives simpler for soldiers
Ravi Kumar, founder and CEO of udChalo

A Pune-based consumer tech startup, udChalo’s business is driven by its motto – ‘Making lives simpler for soldiers’. Coming from a humble army background, Ravi Kumar, founder and CEO of udChalo had seen the struggles of defence personnel very closely. Routine last minute leave approvals, a jawan (army man) often misses out on movement control office (MCO) quota and its limited seats. Due to high volume reservations and last minute requests for train seats, they often travel uncomfortably on unconfirmed tickets, sitting in train passages, crowded compartment doors or in the general compartments of overbooked trains. “On the other hand, in 2012-13 almost 48,000 seats went vacant on all the airlines on a daily basis eventually leading to losses to the airlines industry,” says Kumar.

In 2015, udChalo stepped in to bridge a gap between the two industries. The airline industry benefited with the introduction of the new consumer segment and the defence personnel benefited with the negotiated rates of airfares. udChalo started catering to a niche consumer segment of 30 million armed forces, veterans and their dependents who were never considered as potential customers by the airline industry. Within a span of one year udChalo went on to being a household name amongst the fraternity.

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With ticketing issues being solved, udChalo management ventured further to find more solutions to the captive consumer base to address existing issues. Today, udChalo has grown to be a one stop solution for all travel requirements for the consumer base, beyond that the startup also caters with services like, tax filing assistance, real estate solutions and consumer goods on the website. The startup generated a revenue of `645 crore (GMV) in 2022, and serves an active consumer base of 10 million customers (inclusive of dependants).

In January 2022, udChalo was honoured with the national start up award 2021 by PM Narendra Modi for being innovative and socially impactful in the area it is working in. The company has been profitable since its first year, primarily due to these factors. One, the large consumer base of 30 million people are loyal to the udChalo services since the motto aligns to their requisites. Two, coming from an army background has added an advantage to the organic business growth.

Sticking to the offering that is needed most by the consumer segment, udChalo has grown organically through word of mouth and online/offline organic programmes. Three, with a good net promoter score (NPS) of 66%, and customer satisfaction (CSAT) of 90%, udChalo has high consumer retention which further contributes to lower marketing expenses thus increasing profitability.

Today, udChalo app strings together all lines of business, along with a strong analytics engine at the backend, which help the organisation make better strategic decisions. udChalo has recently acquired Dimentrix to understand the niche consumer needs of this dynamic market segment. Also, technology like DeepInsight has helped udChalo get insights on the consumers from various geographies.

FUTURE OUTLOOK
Serves an active consumer base of 10 million customers
Generated a revenue of `645 crore (GMV) in 2022
Plans to target 30 million customers in next 2 years
With Agnipath scheme, udChalo sees rise in beneficiaries by 77% over 15 yrs
Insurance and financial services will be one of the key vertical in future
Plans for an IPO by 2025-26

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