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How I Backpacked my way to being an Entrepreneur

Here the story of how it all started (please excuse my writing skills) : 

March 2007 :

A spoilt brat forced to do a Btec in Computing and business applications,chilling by the Ganga Riverside in Rishikesh with 5 days remaining to submit the final year project on how to build an e-commerce business and market it.

Being a backpacker myself and hanging out with a few more, all of a sudden I realized that there was officially no Travel company in India focusing to the “Backpacker” segment and thus came about the name “

In the pic : The exact place in Rishikesh (Goa Beach) where it all started from.

Rather than creating the business Plan I combined the concept with the final year project and presented the first version of the concept website to my Profs at The British Council and they loved it.dsc000561

The Idea motivated me to start as I was always passionate about Backpacking and India. My first aim was to make sure that any foreign Backpacker who landed in India to backpack did not get cheated.  

With very little money (Rs 9960 from my previous employers Provident fund) and no support I launched the very first version of the site in 2007 with just a basic flash file playing My travel photos and 4 articles that I managed to write guiding foreign Backpackers on Budget Travel, safety and Use of illegal drugs 

Within a month I realized that this site could maybe be a little more than just information and I wrote to an Irish company to become their affiliate and integrate a Hostel booking widget so that Backpackers heading off to India could also book through the site.

By this time it was already early september 2007 with the first version of the website all done and uploaded with the Booking engine integrated.

First version of the website 

We never really got anyone to book with us for almost another 2 months when all of a sudden we got our very first booking from an Australian Female who not only booked for a few nights but booked hostels all across India for more than 30 days (our very first sale commission of 40$)

By this time I had also enrolled in for a full time MBA so the site was still more of a passion than a business.

June 2008 :

By this time the site had got a little more popular on search engine (thanks to very less or no competition in the sector) and people had started to write in to me to get personal advice on Backpacking through India.

Thats when I asked one of my old college buddies Manu Mehta (an amazing designer who was with me in my Btec as well as MBA ) to join in and help me build a better website and add more info on the site.

He agreed and we launched our second version of the website with a whole lot of new stuff starting from Articles on Destinations (written by locals of every place) to a new section for Tips & Advice for Backpackers with not only a hostel booking engine but also a Bus booking integration and an affiliate program for flights to India.

The response was so amazing that I had started skipping my MBA classes to work more and more towards helping more and more backpackers enjoy their Backpacking trip to India.

By this time I was still unaware of the fact that I was headed towards the awesome path of being an Entrepreneur.

Second version of the website 

Being in college doing a MBA and working side by side on an amazing passion project was all easy and motivating. The actual fight started when college got over in 2009 and it was time to take a decision of taking up a job or trying to change the passion project into a business.

May 2009 

I chose to go for a Job.

But not to make money, it was to better understand the people I wanted to sell my business concept to.

I started working at a Call centre in Gurgaon,WNS with as our client. I took calls, worked weird hours and found very little time to give into “Indian Backpacker” but somehow still managed to answer all the queries I got.

By Dec 2009 I had figured out what a customer is ready to pay for and how bigger travel companies make their money. (as making money of flights/hotel commissions was very less for companies to survive and grow)

And Thus I put in my papers in Dec 2009 to take up “The Indian Backpacker” full time.

Jan 2010 

I had saved a little money from working at this job and wanted to grow more with the concept and planned yet another website update this time we planned to introduce our online “Backpacking gear Store” too but sadly that did not work very well and we had to shut it down.

The only good thing was rather than being an affiliate we had managed get white labels done for bookings and a better design with lot more content.

This year is when something amazing happend, I came across a business plan submission to get funded on a Reality Business show “The Pitch” and life was never the same.

Sep  2010 

Randomly submitted my business model and the concept details on the website for Pitch and was happy to get selected amongst the top 50 ideas who would get a chance to get selected amongst the top 10 business ideas with a chance for getting a fun of 5 crores.

5th Sep 

Auditions for The PITCH and meeting one of the most awesome person ever,Alok Kejriwal as one of Judges.

I did get selected in the Top 10 business ideas but never won the entire show or the funding, however what I did win was Motivation and Confidence worth much more than the funding offered.

In the Pic : A bunch of the most fantastic people I have ever come across – Contestants from           THE PITCH

Oct 2010

Knowing the fact that the idea had potential, the next hurdle was to form the right team to brain storm on ideas and work towards making Indian Backpacker a success. As easy as it sounds, it was the toughest challenge that I EVER faced.

Finding the right team or rather even a team member was the biggest problem as my earlier Partner/helping friend Manu Mehta had to quit due to some personal problems.

Jan 2011 – The Year of struggle 

This was one of the most tough years to work alone, motivate myself to continue and at the same time be happy and make sure I try to grow the company from where it is.

The only good thing that came out of this year was the development  our new Backpacker focused product called “Backpacker Training Program” wherein we had started training first time Backpackers in a small session on things like what to eat,how to be safe in India,precautions of drugs along with a special bargaining session for them at local markets to make sure they are all ready for India.

Almost at the verge of quitting I met Arjun Guleria in Dec 2011 through a common friend who was interested in starting up and before I knew I had a partner at the Indian Backpacker to bring in a new year of higher growths and great motivation.

March 2012 –

With Arjun motivated and taking up the challenges head on, we decided to come up with yet another version of our website (our current website) which now would not only focus on getting in bookings for Backpackers but also to build a community of Backpackers by introducing a forum,creating user profiles as well as enhancing the destinations with more and more tips for Backpacking in India.

Nov 2012 –

The no of queries had grown with the launch of our new version and we  came across Archit, one of the partners at the firm to whom we had outsourced our Adventure activities. Archit just seemed  perfect to join our core team at The Indian Backpacker.

        The Indian Backpacker Team – Akshay Chhugani, Archit Rakheja and Arjun Guleria

Current situation –

    • Starting a passion project and turning it into a business successfully 
    • Serviced more than 3000 customers 
    • Managed to be one of the best “Backpacking” companies for India
    • Diversified into building a Backpacker community in India with not only foreign Backpackers but also creating Indian Backpackers 
    • Finally managed to set up the “Backpacking Gear” store online which we had failed in our first attempt and making a sale within the first 10 days of its launch with any active marketing.
    • With an amazing team, we are totally motivated to scaling up our venture.
    • Wake up with a Big smile on our faces and enjoy every second of our work.

To know more Please do visit 






Originally published on TRH on December 12, 2012



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  1. akshay… your story gives me goosebumps. it shows how a dream, a hobby, a passion, an idea…. when truly pursued can become something so wonderful…! to me, you are a case study – for you have created huge value in the travel space of india. 

    and you are so so humble!!! i feel so proud when i tell people that you are a rodinhooder 🙂

    there is so much youngsters can learn from you. thank you for sharing your story with us! 

  2. Wow Thank u soo much Asha, I dont know if I am humble or not but you surely are very kind with your words 🙂 …..thank you for motivating me to write it all down 

  3. Wow Akshay..

    As Asha rightly said, its a Case Study, that kinda exemplifies the saying, “Survival of the Fittest”..

    All the very Best!!

  4. Thank us so much Vijay, its always motivating to hear such a thing 🙂

  5. This is awesome story Akshay. Very inspiring. Hope more entrepreneurs are born just by reading this post!

  6. Bro, this one is a sure shot script for a successful book / movie on entrepreneurship !!
    hoping to bump into you someday !!
    keep backpacking . . . keep wandering.
    stay blessed
    🙂 f

  7. I have known Akshay since the days of Pitch!

    His passion for entrepreneurship is visible when we meet him!

    Also, one thing he hasnt mentioned here is, his love for CSR!

    For one of the Rotaract Events we were conducting, he willingly gave a cheque, because he associated himself with the cause, without even asking for any returns or any specific brand mentions!

    Kudos to you man!

    All the very best in everything you do!


  8. Hey Akshay its quite an inspiring anecdote…

    I checked your website ( its awesome, quite informative & very well designed, I must say, specially Indian Embassy details in foreign land. I had a dream to visit north east India. Your section on NE India has goaded me to plan my travel. Thanks.

    All the very best & Happy Backpacking…

  9. Thanks Sarang, I am glad you liked it 🙂

  10. Haha Thanks man….I do plan to write a book hopefully soon 🙂 ….would love to catch up some time soon.

  11. Thanks Rahul, it surely was a turning point in my life to make that awesome decision 🙂

  12. Hey thanks a lot buddy 🙂 ….alwaz motivating to hear such a thing….Cheers !!

  13. This is absolutely great Piyush……you should go backpacking to NE india in the new year for sure 🙂

  14. Akshay … You’re Rocking Bro !! Your Story is a Movie called ” Entrepreneur – Indian Backpacker”

    Would love to Catch you up bro … !!!

  15. Thanx a lot buddy for dat amazing compliment…..Cheers !!

  16. Amazing story Akshay. So well-written. Keep backpacking.. Would definitely take your site’s help to backpack anywhere in India. Have fun and wishing great success!

  17. Thank u Anamika….would be looking forward to Help you Backpack through India 🙂

  18. An eye open for people like me who still sit on the Business Plan and beg for funding 🙁 Yes you are right Entrepreneurship needs only one capital and that is passion of the Entrepreneur. Great Post !!!!! and as suggested by many before should be included as a case study in the school of entrepreneurship as lesson no. 1 ( I am going to include you in my talks which I give to B School students for sure ) 

  19. Hey Akshay….

    That’s an amazing and inspiring story…. 

    All the best!!!!! Have Fun…..

  20. really inspiring story..  All d best … ! akki 🙂

  21. WOW Thank u so much Mandar 🙂 

  22. Hey thanx a lot buddy…Cheers !!

  23. Thanx a lot Akshay 🙂

  24. Thanx a lot Dilip 🙂

  25. Akshay – Lovely Story, and keep it up…..

  26. Thanks a lot Puneet 🙂

  27. wow! my second day with rodinhooder and i feel sooooo inspired! Akshay – thumbs up! awesome stuff!! loved the forum on your website… its like getting hold of all the stuff you need under one roof!!

  28. Thank you soo much Ruchi…..its always motivating to hear such a thing…thanx again 

  29. Wow! This is a very inspiring story! I can absolutely relate to all the small and big hurdles you went through to make Indian Backpacker the big success it is right now! This is no small feat. Kudos! We all can learn something from you – perseverance and dedication to your idea… 🙂

  30. I always loved to read a story which inspires to do what you love most.

    Its really great that you dreamt & are on the way to accompalish it with huge success. Inspiring, Different & awsome. Thanks for sharing the story. 

  31. How did i miss this story? absolutely amazing!! i was transported into the story and was living it along with the writer!!

    A must read for all new/ wannabe entrepreneurs (that includes me!!) who want to do something for the sake of money instead of for the love of it. This story exemplifies that if you love something, you will give your heart n soul to it without any motivation and that itself will see u through to success!!

    How i wish, i or my firm could be a part of this amazing team through active participation or funding, the latter easier for us as we are already tied up with our little thing.

    wAY TO go boss!! my best wishes and hope to tag along some day!!

  32. Hello Akshay,

    Great story and wishing you continued and greater success.

    I am a design and UX/UI junkie, so just thought that I should perhaps give you a third party perspective at user end.

    The website design is still very old fashioned and dark color theme does not do justice to the mood you want to invoke on your website.

    You need a design makeover. It will supercharge your conversion rates. Design is critical.

    Hope you do take this advice to heart.

  33. Thanx a lot Soumya….you have been an important part of my Journey for helping me write down most of the content 😛

  34. Thank you Pratik…I feel motivated all over again 🙂

  35. WoW Sanchita…..dat surely is a very inspiring comment 🙂 ……would love to have you or your firm participate with us in any ways possible.

  36. Hi R.Gokarn,

    would love to know more of your views about it….can i have your e-mail address to take it further ?

  37. Absolutely Dilip….you should check this link out

    and write to us at for any query you have about Gokarna

  38. Hi Akshay,

    Sent a pm with my email address, not sure if you got it or not. If you didnt, let me know.

  39. Hey bro, the story was really awesome and inspiring.

    Best wishes 🙂

  40. Thanks a lot Abhinav bro 🙂

  41. Great story Akshay. Passion lead you to it. Cherish it always. ATB.

  42. MANY MANY CONGRATS AKSHAY – WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU! i’ve updated the post – just couldn’t resist!! 🙂


  43. Congrats, Great Work Akshay.

  44. AWESOME!!!, Big congrats for your success. wish you all the best for future endeavors…

  45. Congrats Akshay 🙂

  46. Fantastic,…….hard work, dedication and passion always pays. Congrats.

  47. Amazing story Akshay.. Very well written and i can feel the emotions behind every word describing your journey.. Sending a lot of wishes and good vibes your way.. 


  48. Hi Akshay,

    Congrats & kudos to you man!

    A very inspiring story, wishing you all the best for your future endeavors.

    I would like to get in touch with you to brainstorm on my startup. Am based out of Delhi.

    Look forward to hear from you.



  49. Thank u so much Abhishek,I am going to be at the Rodinhoods meet on 22nd Aug…..Lets connect there.



  50. Thanks a lot Pradeep 🙂 It surely has been an amazing journey 

  51. Thank you Chetan

  52. Thank you Narayanan 

  53. Thank Deepak Bro 🙂 congratulations to you too on Awesome Stays !

  54. Thank you Hemant

  55. Proved yet again that a strong core team can take you places ….rather your business places !!!! Truly inspiring Akshay

  56. Congratulations Akhsay.. a really good story of starting from scratch, perseverance and riding the jittery wave, going through the arduous journey and finally coming out successful.

    Passion converted to a business idea > leading to a venture and finally > pulled off an exit!

    My best wishes!

  57. Congrats guys! 

  58. Thank you Roshni 🙂

  59. Thank you Pranay…its been awesome journey 🙂

  60. Thank you Sridhar 🙂

  61. Akshay, you are an amazing human with lot of passion and energy. Perfect and inspiring journey of an entrepreneur.

  62. What an inspiring story…a must read! Make it a pinned post on TRH.

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