Deep Kalra’s journey from 30 to 3000: makemytrip.com

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Deep Kalra is an Indian businessman, entrepreneur, founder, and Group CEO of MakeMyTrip. He founded an online travel company in 2000.
Deep Kalra is an Indian businessman, entrepreneur, founder, and Group CEO of MakeMyTrip.

Deep Kalra is an Indian businessman, entrepreneur, founder, and Group CEO of MakeMyTrip, an online travel company. He founded MakeMyTrip in 2000 and it took him 8 years of planning to launch his company which now provides easy and suitable travel plans to millions around the globe.

He started his journey with just 30 employees by raising $2 million from eVentures which is now worth $2.74 billion. He was the CEO of MakeMyTrip till August 2010 and from 2013 August to 2020, he functioned as the Group CEO.

In February 2020, he resigned and took over as the Executive Chairman of the MakeMyTrip board and his co-founder Rajesh Magow who was functioning as the CEO took charge as the Group CEO. He is also the Vice-Chairman of the Internet and Mobile Association of India.

Deep Kalra’s net worth is estimated to be $136 million. He is a founding member of ‘I am Gurgoan’ an NGO and Ashoka University. 

Early life and Education

Deep Kalra hails from Hyderabad and is an ex-student of St. Stephens College, Delhi. He completed his graduation in Economics in 1990 and his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in 1992.

Soon after completing his MBA, Deep was employed by ABN AMRO where he worked for around three years. After a break of one year from the corporate world, Deep was employed by AMF Bowling where he worked for four years to set up bowling paths in India. Deep opened around 200 lanes before he joined GE capital. His work in AMF bowling was challenging but the entire journey taught him a lot of things.

He joined GE Capital in 1999 as Vice President of Business Development. This was the turning point in his life which made him realize that he should start something of his own.

Journey as an Entrepreneur

Deep Kalra’s journey as an entrepreneur is an inspiring one. Before launching his online travel company, Deep Kalra planned everything for 8 years. He did several corporate jobs as he always believed that the corporate structure would help him learn and know the process better.

The idea to start something of his own came to his mind when he found himself thinking about the endless things that the internet could offer while he was trying to sell his wife’s car. He has two ideas, online stockbroking, and online travel company. Which idea to go with became clear to him when he was booking a holiday to Thailand and realized that the internet could become a space to offer competitive prices on bookings of hotels and flights and could be the next big thing for the travel industry. And exactly from there, Deep Kalra began his journey of making MakeMyTrip by following his instincts.

He wanted to create an online booking portal to make ticket and hotel bookings easy and stress-free. With his vision, he gave birth to MakeMyTrip with just 30 employees. The first year went by smoothly, but the company went through a rough patch from the year 2001 to 2003. These years were the most difficult for the company. Even though Deep Kalra managed to get funding for the company with eVentures which was about to give $1 million, it had to withdraw due to its exit from the market.

During this time all online businesses were facing a meltdown and 9/11 happened. The company was hit by three problems at once. This was the biggest challenge faced by the company. There were no investors for a couple of years and he had to cut on the team size due to shortage of funds.

Deep Kalra decided to shift his focus during this time. The team shut all services in India and focused on NRI’s who used to travel to India from the US quite often. After a staunch period of struggling, good times started rolling in 2004. Low-cost carrier airlines were launched in India and Deep Kalra jumped in along with his team to make the most of this opportunity and starting selling affordable tickets on their website.

It took him 7 long years and a period of immense struggle to be where he is now. He started with just 30 employees and one office at Okhla and now gives employment to 3000 people and holds more than 50 offices globally. In these years he has grown his reach and merged with ibibo Group and redBus.

Deep Kalra’s story is an inspiring one that puts forward how hope and courage together can help reach greater heights. 

Famous Quotes

  • “There is no greater joy than building something from scratch”.
  • “I think there is a formula out there (for successful inheritance). I think there is no substitute for hard work, there is no substitute for perseverance”.
  • “However big or small, make it a good business, make it a clean business, make it a business you are very proud of”.
  • “People in India didn’t trust the Internet (in 2000). They weren’t ready to drop their credit cards online. They were curious but they were not bold enough”.

Awards and Recognition

  • Deep Kalra received the “Best Travel Innovator” award at Travel Distribution World Asia Award (2012)
  • Outstanding performance by Air Canada (2008)
  • “Top agents award” by Singapore Airlines (2010-2011)
  • “Outstanding revenue contribution” by British Airlines (2007-08)
  • “Award of Excellence” by Jet Airways (2005-06)
  • Ranked 1st as one of the most powerful digital influencers in India by KPMG, 2011. 

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