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Varun Jain: An App For the Soldier
The app Ud Chalo’s contribution to society is undeniable, but Jain strives for higher social goals
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Ever wondered about armed forces personnel posted in remote locations around India and the trouble they must have travelling back home from such far-flung areas? An interactive travel portal named ‘Ud Chalo’ (let’s fly) now helps them navigate their way back home. BW Businessworld picks Varun Jain, founder of Upcurve Business Services that has developed the travel portal, for the 2019 list of the most laudable 40 under 40 entrepreneurs.
Upcurve Business Services has a strong team of mostly ex-servicemen. The company’s vision is to solve life challenges for soldiers. The company’s founder, director & CEO, Varun Jain, like his partner, are sons of defence personnel. In 2012 when they were looking for ideas for a venture, they noticed that soldiers posted in far-flung areas face a great many challenges. While the internet has made life easier for many, it is scarcely accessible by soldiers posted in remote Laddakh or Port Blair. “We bridged that gap!” exults Jain. “Every soldier travels back home at least twice a year and our interface solves their problem, as well as that of the business fraternity,” he says.
The travel domain has its own challenges and entrepreneurs keen to keep pace with them need to be on their toes. How does Ud Chalo cope with these challenges? Varun Jain believes in innovation and taking challenges head on. “We are absolutely keeping pace with developing cross-platform activities,” says he.
Jain points out that Paytm had changed the travel industry ecosystem. Travel groups keen to cope with customer demands had to opt for quick changes, he points out. “We have added tools to our platform that give customised services to our customers where all the hierarchies are taken care of, from that of high rank officers to jawans,” says Jain.
Innovation however, is just one criteria for qualifying for the BW Businessworld elite list of 40 Under 40 entrepreneurs. Ud Chalo is among ventures that have bucked the trend in a year in which the travel business has been bitten by the global slowdown bug. “We have bucked the slowdown trend,” says Jain happily, pointing out that the company’s performance in the last quarter was the strongest ever. “We are a fast growing company that works in a niche segment,” says Jain, whose role model is his former boss.
“We flew more people via our platform. Market specific slowdown did not suffer our parameters,” he says, adding, “ we still have a very long way to go.” Even though Jain as group CEO has contributed a great deal to the company’s growth, he credits the success of Upcurve Business Services to his team and partner. “I am the CEO of the group. My role is to build the right team. Over the last three years we grew exponentially and therefore, it has become a challenge to keep the organisation intact and team together,” says Jain, adding, “Holding onto customers is also a prime challenge for us.”
The app Ud Chalo’s contribution to society is undeniable. Jain believes that the venture was only a small step towards higher social goals. “We are still miles away from a position from where we can say that we have made a social change to the nation, but we have taken a few small steps towards it,” says Jain. He points out that Ud Chalo provides employment to soldiers at paraplegic rehab centres, where injured soldiers who have lost their limbs or have become paraplegic or quadriplegic stay.
“We gave them a chance to be employed so they may become part of the community and start living normal lives,” says Jain. “We hired 15 such employees and are also training them so that they may develop skills and be placed in other industries as well,” he tells us. “Ud chalo” (fly on) we say!