‘Anything without a measurement is a failure’ says Manikandan, Managing Director of Coimbatore-based Cathrrine Travels & Tours. The 25-year old self-made entrepreneur, who started his business with the running capital of Rs. 300 borrowed from his father in 2010, now does business transactions that exceed many crores.
“It all started at a browsing center in Covai Ramanathapuram, where I used to play video games. I saw the browsing shop owner book tickets for customers and I came to know from him about travel ticketing business. For booking tatkal tickets at the railway station, I was paid Rs. 100 for standing in queue,” said Manikandan, which later become his full time business. Now, he runs three other companies namely Cathrrine Associates, Cathrrine Imports & Exports, NMS Global Ventures and Pooja Jewelers in the city.
Though he lost his mother when he was a young boy doing V standard, Manikandan did not lose hope. He had to share with his father the responsibility of looking after a one year old sister. “My father owned a small footwear shop in Ramanathapuram, and I used to help my father in whatever I could at such a young age,” said Manikandan.
“Though I came from a humble family background, I have always had the thought of becoming a businessman. After completing my XII standard, I planned to start my own business. During the school vacation, I borrowed Rs. 300 from my father. I printed visiting cards for 180 rupees, and the balance became my core investment,” said Manikandan, who has a branch office now in Chennai as well.
In the seven years since he began his little business with a paltry sum, Manikandan has had success without a hitch. All his ventures have borne fruit and he can boast of nearly 120 leading corporate clients in the city alone.
“Right from day one, whatever success I have achieved should be attributed to my hard work. Though I am a college dropout, I have ample knowledge on how to run a business earning a decent profit,” Manikandan said. Apart from Tamil, his mother tongue, he can speak English, Hindi and Malayalam also fluently. He has leant all these languages on his own and find them useful in running his business more efficiently.
What is his success formula?
“The success of Cathrrine Travels lies in the quality of service that we provide. Since the inception of the business in a small way, we have been providing free home delivery of tickets within half an hour of booking. Cathrrine is the only travel agency in the region to have a 24 hour ticketing service, as we have employees working 24×7 booking tickets and making arrangements. Most significantly, there are no service charges for the services we provide, which has created goodwill among the customers,” says Manikandan proudly.
With the touch of a button, anyone from anywhere in the world can get whatever he needs with the mobile phone and internet. Manikandan, knowing all these, has created a WhatsApp number to book tickets and has made his business eco-friendly. “WhatsApp and Facebook has taken my business to the next level. With the introduction of Broadcast message in WhatsApp, we are able to reach many customers just with a click,” he said.
‘If someone wants to book a ticket, all he has to do is to send us by WhatsApp his journey details, our team will reply to them within five minutes. And, if the ticket is booked, all they have to do is, show the message wherever they travel, which makes things easy,” adds Manikandan.
He is also contemplating launching a mobile application, unlike other travel giants, to take forward his business to the next level. “Although I don’t see anyone as my competitor, I would like to be best in what I do. So, I have my own ideas and interpretations and style of functioning with whatever that comes to mind. Once I am convinced about the feasibility of an idea, I will make the decisions spontaneously. I don’t listen to what others say. Being an entrepreneur, i have to take decisions on my own and it is with me lies the the responsibility of facing the outcome whether it is a success or a failure. This is my success formula,” said a self-confident Manikandan.
How is the future of Travel & Tourism?
Tourism in India has taken a huge leap in the last one decade. Earlier, it was only travelers from foreign countries who explored travel destinations. But, now the culture has spread to the Indian families like never before. “Most of my clients have already explored almost all the Asian countries. Now, they are enquiring about countries like Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, U.S.A, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.” he said.
“As our clients’ journey destinations and interest have changed, we, as a company, have also changed in order to cater to their needs. However, in India, Adventure Tourism & Relax tourism are also becoming a new trend of late, since people often choose Jammu & Kashmir, Goa and Kerala. When it comes to wildlife, Tamil Nadu is what is preferred by most North Indians, especially travellers from New Delhi and Mumbai,” he added.
While there are training centers and institutes available for other fields like food, fashion, technical educations and arts, there are only very few training institutes that teach travel and tourism in the state. Being very experienced in his field, Manikandan is confident about opening his own travel institute before the end of 2018 and calls it his dream. “Whatever I am today is because of my travel business. With a huge scope available in this field, I wish to make it a professional career using my practical knowledge, so that I can produce professionals in this field who are in short supply,” said Manikandan.
He is already training some students in his office free of cost and also has plans for opening a Management institute to produce student entrepreneurs who can create their own platforms. “When I started my business, I learnt everything by a trial and error method and it took five years for me to reach the position that I am in today. But, now I have everything I ever dreamed of. So, now I am in a position to guide young talents. I will provide them with all the practical teachings with my real time experience, which could make them entrepreneurs within a month’s time under my training,” said Manikadan hopefully.
He also runs a trust in the name of his mother called Cathrrine Charitable Trust which is used to help the needy.
Manikandan states that Kongu region has got great potential to developing travel & tourism, as it is located closer to the other major cities like Tiruppr, Pollachi, Erode, Salem and other major touring destinations. He believes that, with some more expansion on air transport, travel & tourism could become a good industry.
– Tamil Meganathan, Photos: Balaji Remy.