Interview with Chitra Gurnani, Co-founder of Thrillophilia

Not everyone has the conviction to do things they believe in, but the co-founders of Thrillophilia Adventure Tours Pvt. Ltd. Abhishek Daga & Chitra Gurnani, do possess it. With a vision to become a one stop solution for adventure sports in the Indian sub-continent, they started Thrillophilia in May 2009, after a year of paper work and preparations. Starting operations from May 2009 in a 1bhk apartment in Bengaluru they moved into a commercial office in a good locality within 7 months, with their team of dynamic, intelligent and confident members.

“With great risk, comes great success”

Abhishek and Chitra have proved this quote correct. They chose to risk their respective mainstream careers and start something of their own with all they had earned. Now, they organize trips to 14 destinations, have their own team of adventure experts, trainers, trip co-coordinators, best in class equipments and associations with various professionals across the country. They organise all sorts of adventure trips for individuals, groups, families, corporates and everyone. These trips could have a single or bunch of adventure activity, like kayaking, white water rafting, trekking, scuba diving, snorkelling and so on…

Their journey is an inspiring tale for people who believe in chasing their dreams and having faith in themselves. Chitra Gurnani shares the vision, principles and success story of Thrillophilia in an interview.

SN: There are so many other lines of business. Why adventure sports?
CG: We are passionateabout adventure. On our weekend adventure breaks, we realized a potential business opportunity in this field and jumped into it.

SN: You are an MBA by degree and Abhishek is an engineer. What was the reaction of your family and friends when you told them about this business idea? Were they supportive?
CG: Initially they were not very convinced as no one in our families is into business. Everybody is very qualified and into high designations in the service industry. However when they saw the passion in us to do something of our own, they supported us in every way – from moral support, to advice at times to financial support.

SN: What is it that motivated or inspired you to do something out of the box? I mean, why did you risk a mainstream career for a new business?
CG: Passion to succeed and build something of your own was the main driver to leave a lucrative mainstream career and get into a niche business area.

SN: What were the problems that you faced in the initial stages of the project and how did you overcome them?
CG: We had no prior business experience or any family business exposure and so every step was a problem but the best part was with every problem came so many learnings that prepared us well for the future.
Money was a big constraint in the beginning. We put in all our savings during our two and half years of job life in Bangalore to start this venture boot strapped and also took some from parents till we found an angel investor.

Motivating a team of very well qualified young people to believe in our passion and deliver from a 1 bhk apartment in Bangalore was undoubtedly the most difficult thing.
SN: Thrillophila has a website, a facebook page, blog and twitter account. How does the online medium help you in promotion and operation?
The way internet is shaping how businesses are done across the world is amazing. Online advertising, search engine optimization and social media are one of the smartest ways of reaching out to any customer anywhere in the world. In the last 20 months, Thrillophilia has built a strong brand on the internet. It helps us in branding as well as generates leads (potential customers).

SN: In your opinion what is it that makes you different from your competitors?  How do you tackle them?
CG: Our professionalism makes us different from our competitors. Safety measures undertaken during an adventure activity, superior quality equipments, expert instructors, professionals to take care of the overall trip ensures that we provide the customer a managed thrilling and memorable experience.

SN: Your website says you believe in responsible tourism. How much do you believe in this concept? Do you think that the rest of the tourism industry believes in it?
CG: I don’t think I should be commenting on rest of the tourism industry but yes we at Thrillophilia do believe in this concept completely. Tourism is critical to India’s economy today and we use nature for our benefit. So, it becomes our responsibility to ensure that we do not over use it and take measures for its maintenance and long lasting survival. We participate in cleaning programs in Ladakh, avoid using plastics during our trips, ensure that our customers also do not litter during these trips. We promote eco-tourism and have associations with eco-friendly resorts.

SN: You have been in this business for 20 months; you organize trips to 14 destinations. How far have you come? And, what is left to achieve yet?
CG: Today we have served close to 90 corporate companies for adventure off sites. We cover various parts of India. This is a significant achievement. However there is a lot left. We want to be the one stop solution for adventure related activities in the Indian sub continent and we need to cover various places in and around India which we do not cater right now. Then reaching out to more and more international customers is also on our priority list as that way we will be able to position India strongly on the world map for adventure tourism.

SN: Your venture is an inspiration for many people who want to chase their dreams and do what they like even if it is out of their league. What would you like to say to them?
CG: Just do it. You got to dive into the water if you want to learn swimming.  Staying out and calculating might just help you to figure out the right time and the right way to make the final jump but you got to make that jump all on your own. If there is passion in you, there is no way stopping then.

Shikha Nehra

Image Source: []