Meet Ithaka – your Travel Assistant

Ithaka– This may seem to be a non-familiar or outlandish locution. But believe me you will love it when you reach the end of this article!

Ithaca or Ithaka is actually a Greek island. However in modern times it is more famous as a wonderful poem penned by a Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy in 1911. Ithaka symbolizes not only the goal but also the sublime journey to reach the destination of one’s life. This epic art of literature has been premeditated and analysed for many years by many great minds. All of them bring a pristine elucidation of Ithaka.
In India, Ameya and Rahul have also set a novel connotation to Ithaka. According to their website, Ithaka is your free travel assistant. They have their local experts, who will guide you through out your expedition and will give you the best advice in real-time. Their startup offers this app on Appstore and Google Play.

Here is an account of their entrepreneurial journey – in Ameya’s words:

1. Tell us About Your startup, your partners and what made you to start it?

Ithaka is the simplest way to plan a trip – by chatting with a friendly expert in realtime! When we think of traveling somewhere, our natural instinct is to talk to a friend who’s already been there. It’s easy, convenient and a lot of fun! We’re live for Thailand right now, and planning to expand to more countries in South East Asia soon.
We’ve tried to recreate the exact same experience with Ithaka, and the result is an intuitive, conversational planning flow that travelers love!

My cofounder Rahul and I firmly believe that traveling (not package trips) makes you a better person. You are more open, inclusive and generally chilled out. Anyone who has traveled will agree.
We just figured how awesome it would be, if everyone traveled a little bit more, and so Ithaka was born.

2. Tell us something about you  and Rahul

I’m Ameya, CEO of Ithaka. I  graduated from IIT Bombay in 2013, worked at Schlumberger for a while, before quitting to backpack through Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Rahul Singh, Head of Product, graduated from IITB in 2012. He was with Gulftalent Dubai for 3 years, working first as an analyst and then a product manager. He’s traveled to Europe twice, and watched the world cup in Brazil!

3. How different is Ithaka from existing models(If any)? and How do you want to compete with them?

Ithaka is a complete step away from the existing models.
Every travel product in the world tries to solve your problems for you, Ithaka is the only app that creates detailed, personalized plans, but all the while keeping you deeply involved in the process.
We don’t plan just your trip, we work together at every step to make an amazing trip happen, all through a simple chat interface!

We don’t want to compete with anybody! Ithaka is being designed as a platform, so we’d rather partner with travel services to help with the fulfillment part of travel.
As for algorithmic travel planners that ask you to fill a form and spit out an itinerary, I believe there is little future. People are (and are becoming) too smart to just accept something prima facie – personalization will win.

4. What is Ithaka’s traction so far?

We’ve powered over a 1000 trips to Thailand so far.

5. What is your vision to scale your business?

A couple of things are key to our success at scale:
1) Building a truly world class product with intelligent systems that let us scale the conversational model

2)  Partnerships across domains (hotels/ flights/ activities etc) that help us power seamless bookings and other fulfillment for travelers

6. Any other interesting information you would like to share with us.

The name ‘Ithaka’ comes from a poem by C.P Cavafy. I was on an oil rig in Gujarat and pretty lost about my life. Someone sent me this poem, and I literally quit in a few minutes.
Here is a superbly illustrated version of the poem, read at your own risk!

So globetrotters pack your bags and Ithaka will escort you through a marvelous journey.

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