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Travel start-up ixigo acqui-hires to build curated communities of travelers An investee company of SAIF Partners & MakeMyTrip, ixigo looks to grow five-fold to reach over 30 million monthly active mobile users by 2016.

By Entrepreneur India

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Gurgaon headquartered online and mobile travel search and planning start-up ixigo, which is owned and operated by Le Travenues Technology Private Limited, has announced to acquire all the intellectual properties of New Delhi-based Desi Backpacking Travelers Private Limited, the company behind – India's leading community for budget travelers, for an undisclosed amount. As a part of the deal, Akshay Chhugani, Founder & CEO, The Indian Backpacker, will also join ixigo as head of traveler communities.

Launched in 2007 by Aloke Bajpai and Rajnish Kumar, ixigo connects over 60 million travelers with content and deals from over 25,000 online and offline travel and hospitality businesses. The firm aggregates and compares real-time travel information, prices and availability for flights, trains, buses, cabs, hotels, packages and destinations.

Commenting on the latest development, Bajpai, Co-Founder & CEO, ixigo, said, "As a part of ixigo's vision of simplifying lives of Indian travelers, we want to build a strong connect with communities of travelers, who possess a shared passion, purpose or taste. Chhugani has traveled extensively through India on a shoestring budget and has mastered the art of spending less and traveling more in terms of budget accommodation, destinations and experiences. At ixigo, he will be responsible to build and nurture curated communities of travelers across interest areas. We look forward to building an authentic Indian traveler community and curate deep knowledge of offbeat destinations and niche travel experiences."

An investee company of SAIF Partners & MakeMyTrip Private Limited, ixigo recently secured funding from India's leading smartphone manufacturer Micromax in June for an undisclosed amount to build on-demand and one-click travel experiences that would be integrated into Micromax devices. The firm is looking to grow five-fold to reach over 30 million monthly active mobile users by the end of 2016.

Acqui-hiring: The new normal in talent acquisition

Creating great products or services, having a large consumer base and eventually improving company's top line - all this stems from innovative talent, driven by product ownership. Due to fierce competition for rapidly scaling up businesses in the Indian technology ecosystem, acquiring start-ups primarily for its tech talent rather than the product is gradually becoming a rage in the country.

These acquisitions are mainly done for the team. If there is a commonality in the work done by two companies, then there is a huge merit in bringing their teams together. More than the commonality of work, the race to acquire the best talent in the market with the increasing growth appetite of tech companies is encouraging them to do such acqui-hires. Thus, acqui-hiring plays an effective shortcut to hiring best talent in large number than taking the traditional HR route.

Speaking on the new partnership, Chhugani said, "ixigo has emerged as the most innovative aggregator in the Indian travel space, with smartest apps for budget travelers and an organically grown and loyal user-base. There is a clear opportunity to build a community platform that enhances engagement and provides authentic and unbiased curated content for Indian travelers. I am pretty excited about the possibilities our shared vision unfolds."

Chhugani's Journey

A travel enthusiast since the age of 16, Chhugani has stayed at ashrams, trekked to the hills, tried out local street food at small towns and made new friends from across the globe. Later, along with his MBA friend Manu Mehta, an avid backpacker himself, Chhugani decided to launch In a short time, they made a credible source of information and bookings for backpackers coming to India.

His passion was to popularise India as a backpacking destination and to create awareness about the beauty, culture and heritage of this country. He has earlier worked with WNS as a travel expert for Chhugani's previous projects also include working with companies like Exposure Media Marketing, which publishes Selling World Travel magazine; Eventus India and Aegis Global Vantedge. Apart from that, he has volunteered actively with Cricketer Yuvraj Singh's foundation YouWeCan Ventures, and was heading all their alliances and communication.

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