We are a tech-forward travel and expense management company offering SaaS-based integrated Travel & Expense Management software. We cater to businesses of all sizes in the India, US, and SEA markets, aiming to automate their travel and expense processes. We work with companies who are excited by innovative approaches to improve the status quo.
ITILITE is the only platform designed for B2B that offers end-to-end digitization and automation for both travel and expense management under one roof. Our travel management platform gives you cost-efficient flight and hotel booking options based on past preferences to help you save 30% on your overall travel costs.
Another thing we are proud of is that we help our clients cut the booking turnaround time to 90 seconds through customized options and automated approval workflows and in terms of expense filing, employees get the flexibility of uploading their expense receipts from anywhere for 2 times faster filing experience leading to 5 times faster reimbursements. This way, bookings get faster, all the expenses get filed on time, employees are delighted because of the ease of filing expenses, and the organization’s financial productivity is enhanced by 40% also allowing companies to be audit ready.
Another notable feature of our product is the world’s first virtual travel consultant called ITILITE Mastermind. You might have heard about travel consultants; now brace yourselves for the magic of a virtual corporate travel consultant. Mastermind will unleash a company’s true saving potential with its bird’s eye view of the travel and expense program, benchmarking and comparing with the competitors’ travel policy, and data-driven, actionable insights.
Regarding our reach and impact on the market, we are proud to have inspired the trust of 500,000+ customers globally across over 230 small businesses, unicorns, and Fortune 500 companies. This has led to us having a Perfect 100 Net Promoter Score in G2 (one of the biggest software review websites in the US) Spring Report 2021. Even during the pandemic, when many businesses struggled to make ends meet, we witnessed 5X growth, and the bookings made through our platform have elevated by 200%.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
There is a saying “Best ideas come from personal pain points” and that is exactly how ITILITE came into being. Before starting ITILITE in 2017, Anish and I used to work with McKinsey and Co. and the Indian e-commerce giant Myntra. We were one of the many road warriors who spent 200 nights a year traveling for work.
Business travel is still primarily managed over email and calls, which is pretty sluggish, clunky, and inconvenient and should be left in the 1990s.
As avid corporate travelers, we quickly realized the inefficiencies and flaws surrounding business travel. We also noticed the increasing disparity between personal and business travel processes, wherein personal travel was becoming increasingly digital and seamless. However, business travel was still plagued with laborious manual processes, and complicated approval workflows, and there were no effective cost control measures.
That’s when we knew that business travel needed to strut towards technological processes, and we decided to define the problem further. After months of knocking on multiple doors to collect insights about the complications that arise when business travel is manually managed, we could narrow it down to 2 solid problem statements:
1) Businesses spend a huge amount on travel (5-6% of revenue in sectors like tech and pharma). The only way they try to control their travel spending is either by putting checks on employees in the form of approvals and stringent travel policies or by negotiating with vendors for good booking deals. Both these lead to 2-3% temporary savings at best and leave employees dissatisfied
2) Business travel is still primarily managed over email and calls, which is pretty sluggish, clunky, and inconvenient and should be left in the 1990s.
During my 14+ years of working with McKinsey and Myntra in the fields of product management, business strategy, and business travel and Anish’s 15+ years in company building, market strategy, and more, we discovered that deep value technology paired with human intelligence could deliver tremendous output. Hence, ITILITE was born. Since its inception, the idea was to create a tech-forward travel and expense management company, and the manifestation is right in front of us today.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We started ITILITE with the idea that we should help companies incentivize their employees whenever they save travel costs. The idea seemed brilliant, and our early discussions with potential customers confirmed that. However, as we started descending into the nitty-gritty of corporate travel and expense management, we realized that the entire process needed revamping.
Then, bit by bit, we developed our product to solve all the problems we encountered, like the slow booking process, manual expense management, over-extended workflows, etc., and behold, we had a truly integrated travel and expense management software.
Given our strong conviction and early momentum, we were able to garner the interest of investors who believed in our cause, and then we partnered with Matrix Partners, who led our seed funding round.
We were also able to onboard Capillary Technologies as our first customer, and we started with a pilot where they used one of our products in one of their departments, and since then, there has been no turning back. We have been partners for 5 years now, and they have used all of our products and have been very happy.
Our next step was to handpick the people with will and skill. We were lucky that some of our early hires are still with us and have given us more than we expected.
Our collective effort has brought us to a place from where we can look at our milestones and smile. Some notable ones like when we raised $4.2 Mn in the Series A funding round in January 2019, $13 Mn in the Series B funding round in 2020, and $29 Mn in the Series C funding round in 2022 provide testimony about the trust we have been able to build among investors. However, this is just the beginning, and we are all charged up about the miles we have to go.
We also created multiple buyer personas like travel managers, admins, CEOs, CTOs, etc., so that we can talk to our target audience in a way they understand.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
When it comes to attraction and retention, I think the first thing that worked was the distinguishing features of our product. A truly integrated travel and expense platform that brings all your travel spending to one place or provides such perfectly customized booking options that your employees don’t have to give up their convenience to save costs.
We also empower our customers by giving them complete control over booking through our self-booking tool. Yet, our dedicated team of professionals conducts business reviews via calls and emails to ensure that they are utilizing all the features of our product to solve as many of their problems as possible. So, we don’t abandon our customers once they have bought our product. And last but not least our in-built incentivization platform that rewards employees for saving the company’s travel costs has also been well received by our customers.
Other than that, our 24/7 omnichannel support and emphasis on traveler’s safety have been very instrumental in differentiating us from our competitors in the eyes of our customers. If our customers come to us with a problem, it gets solved within 30 minutes, unlike other players who take 2-3 days.
Now, with a great product comes great responsibility to tell the world about it. As B2B organizations, most of our counterparts turn a blind eye toward the magic of marketing and customer interaction across multiple touchpoints. However, we at ITILITE like to talk to our customers, tell them about the new additions to our product, and hear what they like and dislike about it.
However, two things to remember about the B2B SaaS marketing strategy are that no one strategy will work on two buyer personas, and there are multiple ways to succeed.
During the first few months of ITILITE, we were directing all of our energy toward outbound sales because our product was one-of-a-kind, and we thought our customers would want someone to spell out all of its features. But after working with our customers for a while and getting acquainted with the ways of modern marketing, Anish and I realized that there are numerous ways of capturing and retaining a person’s attention, some easier and more effective than our outbound process.
So we decided to bring some marketing experts to our company and explore those other avenues. Our first step was establishing a solid brand image, so our customers could identify us from a heap of companies. We already had a logo and a tagline; we set a uniform tone and messaging as a friend who is well-versed with technology and helps you manage travel and expense.
We also created multiple buyer personas like travel managers, admins, CEOs, CTOs, etc., so that we can talk to our target audience in a way they understand. With this, began our efforts to synergize the inbound and outbound marketing processes to derive the best possible output.
Currently, we go heavy on organic and inorganic channels of communication. In terms of organic, we publish blogs, newsletters, and ebooks that capture the nitty-gritty details of the travel industry and suggest solutions to complex problems. We have separate topics, structures, and ideas for various buyer personas at different stages of the marketing funnel.
We are also very active on multiple social media channels like LinkedIn (where we recently hit the 20K mark), Twitter, and Facebook. Our inorganic tracks include text and display ads on Google and print ads. We recently occupied the entire front page of the Economic Times newspaper, which is the most popular business newspaper in India.
So, whenever there's something new with us, we let people know, and that’s how we keep our customers close.
Other than talking about our product, we are also excellent listeners. We conduct regular business reviews with our clients on multiple platforms that serve as digital word-of-mouth.
Here, if one satisfied customer says “Hey, we have used the ITILITE platform, and it has solved a lot of our problems; we recommend you give it a try”, multiple other potential customers hear them.
We are especially delighted by the love our customers have expressed on the G2 platform and by the platform’s facilitation of our efforts by giving us the leadership position.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We just raised $29 Mn in the Series-C funding round in April ‘22, led by expert investors Tiger Global and Dharana Capital along with participation from existing investors Matrix Partners India and Tenacity Ventures, so I think it is safe to say that things are going well.
In terms of target market impact, we are proud to power more than 500K users across more than 230 companies like Swiggy, Byjus, Ula, Automation Anywhere, and many more in India, the US, and SEA markets.
Although we have grown exponentially, we have never stopped enhancing our product experience. As a result, we now offer 8X ROI to our customers and have recorded 5X growth since our series B funding round in 2020.
On the people front, we have grown to a team of 300+ smart, talented, and dedicated individuals who are willing to do whatever it takes to get ITILITE on to the next level.
We are also very optimistic about what our future holds. With all the support we have received from our investors and our customers we plan to double down on more product innovations to enhance control and make our product more intuitive. We plan to strengthen our workflow and analytics engine to serve the most complex needs of our enterprise customers while maintaining the simplicity treasured by our fast-moving clients.
We will continue to deepen our peer learning experience as we have been doing through initiatives like Top Drawer Travel Talks and “The Orange Hour” and will expand our A+ team to enhance the level of support we offer to our customers.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Customer Relationship Management Platform: Hubspot
Human Resource Management Platform: GreytHR
Exclusive Offers: GreytHR, Insurity, Work In Sync, mfine, Covid-19 Response, Bounce
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I am an avid reader, books inspire me a lot. My favorite book is Man’s search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl primarily because of the way he talks about finding a sense of purpose even in the most ruthless phases of life. And my favorite movie is The Pursuit of Happiness because it makes you step back and think about the “why” of doing whatever you are doing.
I also derive a lot of inspiration from observing my fellow SaaS entrepreneurs in their relentless pursuit of excellence in making the lives of their customers easier with technology.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
The best advice I can give to all budding entrepreneurs is to be the dumbest person in the room. It does two things:
Forces you to look for smarter and more motivated people.
Gives you the comfort of asking basic questions.
And all the magic happens when you ask basic questions because the worst-case scenario is that you’ll become smarter by getting the answer and the best-case scenario is it will make everyone rethink their assumptions. So, instead of focusing on how you look in front of people, focus on what you can learn from them and how.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
As a fast-growing startup, we are always on the lookout for people who believe in our mission and are willing to join us. Right now, Building and Selling are the 2 core functions of our company and we are very actively hiring for roles across sales, marketing, product, and tech. We are one of the very few travel and expense management companies worldwide where the employee headcount has doubled in the last 2 years despite the pandemic.
So anyone with the right mix of skill and will is welcome at ITILITE with a promise of tremendous professional growth.
Where can we go to learn more?
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