Ever felt like conquering the waves or had a yearning to surf the waves! Vijayawada based startup Amaravati Boating Club (ABC) is giving this enriching experience to its visitors. As the shells sank, dreams floated for the founders of ABC who chose to steer a boat. Startup Dunya in conversation with Pavithra Kakani, Managing Director of ABC who shares her experiences.
What does ABC have to offer to its customers?
Amaravati Boating Club caters to premium lovers of water sports and adventurous activities. We provide the best water riding experiences like Jet-skiing, Jet kayaking, Banana and Bouncy rides. We provide the best tourism experience at affordable prices with international standards which includes luxury pontoon and cruiser long boat, HDPE and turkey boats.
How did you get the idea for setting up a boating club?
Before ABC happened, people or visitors of Vijayawada did not have a lot of activities for recreation. They would either go to a mall, movie or restaurant. We visited Bhavani Island, after thorough research and planning for 6 months, we came up with ABC. Nothing can stop a good idea and timing is everything.
How is the response from different age groups?
The response is remarkable. Our customer base is not just youngsters, we cater to the needs of all age groups. A 75-year-old woman took me by surprise when she went on a bumper ride. Since we are affordable, people are liking us a lot. Also they need not travel distant places for adventure sports.
Any specific event or trip you want to tell us?
Sure! We conducted women’s week from March 5th to 11th (2017) as a part of International Women’s Day celebrations. We invited pioneering women from different industries to experience ABC and later honoured them for their accomplishments. This was a huge success and it increased the entertainment quotient in and around Vijayawada.
You signed the MOU in January 2017 at the CII partnership summit and were operational within a short span of time. How did ABC materialise so soon?
We are one of the first startups who materialised within 20 days after the MOU exchange at the CII summit. This is not a one-man army, but rather team work. We had a robust plan and things fell in place without any glitch.
Can you share your experience in the ease of doing business with the Andhra Pradesh government?
The Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu himself being the tourism minister indirectly helped us a lot. This startup is one of its kind. The advantage that ABC has is that a woman is leading it. I was able to get directions and permissions without any trouble. If we have a good strategy in place, the government on its part tries to encourage women entrepreneurs to do their job well.
What are the measures ABC is taking up to keeping river Krishna clean?
We have taken up project “Clean Krishna” to ensure that none of our customers throw anything into the water. Also, in association with CII- Young India (Yi Amaravati), we wanted people to be part of cleaning the Krishna River. In our boat rides, we provide a fishing net and ask the visitors to collect the plastic and other scrap they find. We give them goodies for doing the activity and dispose the collected waste appropriately. People are loving this initiative and are very interested in it.
Amaravati has hosted major events over the past several months. Do you have any tie-ups for such events?
We have ferried women representatives at the Women’s parliament and also the Face Yoga. We are new, but in the long term, we would want to pursue such tie-ups. As of now, suggestions do pour in from the personalities who visit us.
Are you working along with AP tourism? Tell us more about your competitors.
We do have competitors but we are very unique in our space. The activities and the equipment we use are of very high standards compared to others. We wouldn’t see AP tourism as a competition but would rather prefer to work along with them. In fact, the commissioner encouraged us and gave us an idea for a Kalamkari theme.
What kind of partnerships have you forged of late?
ABC is engaged with the central Govt Inland waterways in providing skilled manpower for their vessels.
We are also official vendors to the AP state disaster response force and district administration of Krishna District.
ABC has also tied up with Trujet airways to promote tourism in AP. This is a first of its kind MoU.
We have entered an MoU with Radio Mirchi to promote tourism initiatives in AP.
What does Amaravati require to become a startup capital?
It needs more investors and incentives. The government on its part has to improvise the startup policy. People should adapt the culture of startups. Colleges especially should create awareness about startups as it is an opportunity to not only get a job but to employ others.
How was your transition from Software engineer to an entrepreneur?
It is two different worlds. In IT, we are surrounded by graduates who are to the point. But when it comes to ABC, I need to interact with different kinds of people with different mindsets. Moreover, after you develop something in IT, you don’t really face the customer every day. Here, we have a new customer each day and our service has to be the best. The recall value of the customers is very crucial in this industry because marketing happens mostly by word of mouth.
Any recent expansions?
We have recently expanded our fleet from Bhavani Island to Durga Ghat.
We have also been awarded a tender in Orissa in Barkul and Tampara on a 10-year O&M agreement along with the Orissa Tourism Department.
On an interesting note, we have ventured into the food sector with #Dosaking, a unit of ABC.
Where do you see ABC in the next two to three years?
We currently have 9 boats and want to expand our fleet. We have also infused new and first of its kind rides like Jet Attack, a self-drive boat and a 50-seater cruiser for dinner parties.
We want to progress in this area and in a year or so we want to start our ventures in different regions.
We also want to make the experience seamless so we are working on the technology piece of it.
We envision that ABC shall be catering to premium tourists both from across India as well as foreigners. We want to let tourists experience the legend of Amaravati and get immersed in the ethos of river Krishna and goddess Durga along with the majestic Prakasam Barrage, the local fisherman community, wildlife ecosystem and the scenic beauty of the islands.
A recent recognition that you would like to highlight…
We received a 5-star customer rating in JustDial and were presented the certificate by Mr. Amitabh Bachchan – a proud moment indeed.
We created the world’s first floating studio in collaboration with Mahaa News TV channel and entered the Telugu Book of Records.
What is your message for women entrepreneurs?
There can be no other time perfect than now for women to realise their dreams. Be bold and never underestimate yourself. Everyone out-there wants to help you and not scare you. The government is giving a lot of subsidies and grants, and loans for MSMEs. Similarly, organisations like CII also provide good networking and learning opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
Any parting thoughts?
Water sports is not as difficult as it seems, just dive into it and start riding your boat.