How This 25-Year-Old's Frustration Over A Bus Ticket Led Him To Start A Company He Later Sold For ₹800 Cr

From a frustrating trip home for Diwali to creating a revolution in India’s travel industry, Phanindra Sama’s journey with Redbus is a tale of determination, innovation, and groundbreaking success.

What to know: Back in 2005, Phanindra, a 25-year-old engineer in Bangalore, encountered the chaotic world of bus ticket booking — a mess of phone calls, opaque pricing, and a complete lack of transparency. This challenge sparked an idea forever changing how India booked bus tickets.

With just ₹5 lakh and a couple of friends, Phanindra quit his job and launched Redbus in 2006. The platform pioneered online bus booking with the luxury of choosing seats and viewing real-time pricing. Initially, the road was anything but smooth. The market was sceptical, and investors were hard to come by. Yet, Phanindra’s relentless pitch to bus operators, emphasizing the profitability of their routes through Redbus, began to turn the tide.

See also: How This Duo's Idea Born Out Of Bamboo Plates Turned Into A Multi-Million Dollar Venture

By 2007, Redbus had onboarded 50 operators and raked in sales of ₹5 crore. Seed funding and strategic mentorship soon followed, allowing the company to introduce innovative features like bus tracking, verified ratings, and reserved seating for women. Redbus’s growth skyrocketed, attracting significant investments and leading to partnerships with state transport systems.

In 2013, the hard work paid off spectacularly when Redbus was acquired by the Ibibo Group for ₹800 crore, marking one of the largest acquisitions in the Indian startup ecosystem. Today, Redbus operates across 10,000 pin codes, selling 6 crore tickets annually and serving millions of satisfied customers.

Phanindra Sama, who once couldn’t book a bus ticket home for Diwali, has not only made his late father proud but also revolutionized bus travel for millions, making Redbus a household name in India.

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