Bhanu Chopra is a veteran in the Indian startup ecosystem and possibly one of the earliest founders. He’s also been an investor with the India Angel Network. But little is known about him, possibly because the South Delhi techie, now in his mid-40s, spent a significant part of his lifetime in the US – first as a computer science student, and later, consulting Fortune 500 companies on their tech strategies. “My consulting job required a lot of travel to the US and Europe. So, I was always looking out for the best travel deals. That is what prompted me to start this company,” Bhanu tells YourStory.
RateGain began as a direct-to-consumer price comparison website in 2004, and has evolved into an end-to-end cloud-based platform for enterprises. The founder recalls, “We were bootstrapped… and in the absence of capital, we couldn’t spend the kind of marketing money that was needed to gain eyeballs. Hence, we pivoted to B2B within three months of our launch.” That turned out to be one of the best decisions, with the company turning a profit within a year of operations. Its first client was Expedia, and, later, other online travel agencies (OTAs) that were looking for price comparison technology signed up. Additionally, a large undisclosed US tech company became its “channel partner” and white-labelled RateGain’s product under its own brand name. “That got us quick exposure to the travel industry and we reached 30,000 hotels soon,” Bhanu says. Today, RateGain is a pure play SaaS platform, with services including AI-driven revenue management, price intelligence, demand prediction, frictionless distribution, and real-time guest experience management for travel and hospitality clients.
‘Zoho for hospitality and travel’ The Founder-Chairman says that “data, distribution, and decision-making” are the three pillars on which his company stands. “Our USP is that we are an integrated product and a very compelling one at that,” he says. In 15 years, RateGain has acquired 12,000+ enterprise customers, including leading hotels, OTAs, airlines, car rental companies, cruise liners, tour operators, travel suppliers, and aggregators. It claims to be closing in on $100 million in annualised revenue this year, riding on steep growth in the past 24-36 months. “The last three years have been fantastic. As we expanded into more customer segments, those acted as growth triggers,” Bhanu says. “We grew at 70-80 percent, and this year it’ll be 100 percent growth. We’ve been able to unlock the power of cross-selling and upselling,” he adds.