COVID has been a blessing to the internet economy in India says MakeMyTrip Deep Kalra in the opening session of TiECON Chennai 2020

Chennai: Sharing an optimistic view on the evolving entrepreneurial landscape in India amidst a pandemic, Deep Kalra, Founder & Group Executive Chairman, MakeMyTrip kick-started this year’s TiECON Chennai 2020 with an intriguing fire-side chat. In his conversation with Mahavir Pratap Sharma, Founder and Owner of Oscar Expo Design LLP and Swishin Events LLP as well as the Chairman of TiE Global Board of Trustees, Deep Kalra shared his experience as a first time entrepreneur who set out to revolutionize the Indian hospitality industry and the many challenges he had to overcome along the journey of building MakeMyTrip.

Embracing the new order of life, this year’s TiECON was conducted virtually with over 1000 delegates participating in the first day of the conference. Dwelling deep into the several impacts of COVID on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, Deep Kalra shared insights on how the situation has opened plethora of opportunities while also uplifting the internet economy to a great extent.

“India is at an interesting point. Fundamentally, COVID has been the biggest blessing that the internet economy could get in India. At the end of COVID, we would have jumped from 110 to 200 million buyers online because there is no other way to order or pay. Everyone has become comfortable and it is a one way street. I think it has doubled our addressable market suddenly because many more people have been brought online.” said Deep Kalra in his interaction.

Further sharing insights on the future of travel industry in India, Deep Kalra said, “Travel is uncomfortable today but it is not unsafe. We have to convince a lot of people that it is safe and that take time. Only 25% domestic flights have opened despite the Government allowing 60% operations due to the low demand. People are slowly stepping out to travel for work, meeting family and pleasure. It is going to take time in India for travel industry to open up. There is a silver bullet but we don’t know when it is going to come. It is time for us to dig down deeper into our resources. We have used this time to work on the all the projects we wanted to do, but never got the time to do because of the daily pressures of business”

He also added, “Economies have to open up, livelihood has to come back. We have been shut down far too long. The future of travel in the short term is still going to be tough. But I am firm believer that once we see this through; we are going to see revenge travel. I am very optimistic about the long term; there are no questions about travel being replaced by anything because it is experiential. You cannot take that away.”

Following this conversation, a panel discussion on the topic ‘Local to Global: The Chennai Startup path” was conducted. The panelists for the session were Srinath Ravichandran (Co-Founder & CEO of AgniKul Cosmos), Rachna Dave (Founder, MicroGo), and Vinoth Kumar (CEO, Paperflite) moderated by Rema Subramanian (Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Ankur Capital). Drawing on the panelists’ experience across diverse industries, the conversation touched upon the need for R&D and innovation particularly in science and technology, the ability to cater to local as well as global markets, and the role of a supportive ecosystem.

The first day of the conference came to a conclusion with a first side chat between T V Mohandas Pai, Co-Founder and Chairman of Aarin Capital and Chairman of Manipal Global Education, and Viiveck Verma, Founder and CEO of UpSurge Enterprise Solutions and Senior Advisor to Telengana State Innovation Cell. A conversation filled with personal anecdotes and real-life examples, Pai traced his experiences in finance, HR as well as social impact roles in Infosys and beyond. Helping build Brand India for the last many years, Pai described his efforts both in the private as well as public sector as an advisor to many governmental committees. The talk was rooted in the need for data and systems, credibility and transparency, and the commitment to the greater good.