Hot 100: Race To Grace winner GoHero, founded by Bineet Desai and Snehal Dhruve, is your personal concierge that seamlessly plans your travel for you. By Shweta Gandhi
If you’re tired of visiting the same old travel booking site that only shows ‘loading’ every time you try to book a flight, GoHero is the app for you. GoHero aims to use chat conversations based on artificial intelligence (AI) to answer your travel query within a matter of seconds. It was founded by Bineet Desai and Snehal Dhruve in July 2015. Bineet is a management graduate from Mumbai’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and has worked with various banks in business development and building relationships before starting out on his own. Snehal has completed his MS in Engineering Management from the US where he spent 10 years working in top banks.
How GoHero works
“The idea came during our initial research period when we identified how vendors and customers were using messaging services like WhatsApp to place orders,” says Bineet. “So we decided to use chat channels like Facebook messenger and WhatsApp to get in touch with people, and it’s about utilising that channel to serve a business like ours,” Snehal adds.
“We offer all travel-based services, be it booking taxis, flight and railway tickets, hotel and restaurant bookings, or planning a holiday,” Snehal says. However, GoHero isn’t just another travel agent—they’re building a technology that services an end client while working with various players in the market. “The AI compares quotations from over a 1,000 travel websites, applies available promotional codes, and provides the best rates,” says Bineet, “and it all works through a simple, intelligent chat conversation with a bot.”
So say you want to travel to Amritsar and want to stay within half-a-kilometre of the Golden Temple. You type this requirement out on chat, the bot will pick up the keywords, search data available on Google, and curate contextual and value-added data within 15 seconds and reply to you through the chat. Not only does this cut back on the time a person spends on searching, but also provides the best rates.
“The more often you use the app, the AI saves your preferences and builds a persona, so that the next time you book, it automatically shows you your preferred choices, making it even easier and faster to book,” says Snehal.
Growing slowly and strongly
GoHero is a free app available to download on iOS and Android, and is also offered on a web-based portal at GoHero.ai. With over 6,000 registered users, the app has seen a profitable growth of eight to nine per cent in the last six months.
Earning their commissions through fulfilling transactions of online and offline travel partners, the app conducts end-to-end bookings at no cost or additional convenience fee for users. Moreover, its feature of including market value coupons is an added advantage, and more reason for users to choose GoHero over a traditional agent.
“We started out as a bootstrapped company and channelised all our resources into product development,” says Snehal. Without spending any money on marketing, the duo used word-of-mouth and social media to build an audience. “Apart from finances, we also faced difficulty in sourcing experts since our product is futuristic and tech heavy and India is new to this technology,” he adds.
So far GoHero has gathered a team of six members, all techies, who also handle operations. GoHero’s perseverance paid off in January —they scored seed funding from Travel Startups Incubator (Travelstartups.co).
“With the seed funding in hand, the next two months will see us working on product development,” says Bineet. “The product is ready, but the bot is still learning and interpreting how to predict conversations and parameters. If a system is more open to conducive learning, it registers and analyses data while making a relational link,” he says. “What you see will be the enhanced version wherein everything will be textual, and you’ll be able to type and scroll through,” adds Snehal. “We are an evolving platform and want to get our roots deeper in the market using IoT. Apart from the app, we will expand to multiple platforms. We are looking to have over 300 services related to travel and its activities,” says Snehal.
He continues, “We want the customer to encounter a smooth travel experience with the AI using data from real-time machines. In the future, IoT will ensure a seamless experience by taking care of basic elements that you don’t even think are a part of your ecosystem right now.” So all you have to do is sit back and let technology check you into your next flight!