Bengaluru: Train booking and prediction platform Confimrtkt is in talks to raise a bridge funding round of $2-$3 from Indian Angel Network’s (IAN) maiden fund and other HNIs, according to two people aware of the development.
IAN’s investment fund which was set-up in 2018 , has a corpus of ₹350 crore, meant for investing in early-stage startups.
The Bengaluru-based startup is also in talks with China and US based investors to raise a big amount for its ongoing Series A funding round, the second person said on condition of anonymity.
A company spokesperson confirmed that its bridge round is in advanced stage, but did not comment on the ongoing Series A round.
Confirmtkt, which has been operational for over four years now, predicts confirmations of wait-listed train tickets on any given route, using a score of 0-100 by tracking Passenger Name Records (PNRs) and other data points.
Sripad Vaidya, chief operating officer of Confirmtkt told Mint that around 10-11% of PNRs generated in the Indian Railway system (60,000-70,0000 tickets) is now being tracked daily on their platform, directly from user inputs and through its ticket booking service.
“We have two sets of data: one is the PNR numbers that users submit to us for tracking. As soon as we see a unique PNR in the system, our platform logs it immediately. Apart from this, once the final charts are prepared for any given route, we capture unique PNRs from it, and make changes to our decision algorithms continuously" said Vaidya.
The company initially launched in 2014 as a platform for predicting train ticket confirmation chances and within a year of its operations in 2015, Confirmtkt achieved 15,000 daily active users. It currently has over 300,000 daily active users.
Confirmtkt and many other technology startups in the ticketing space believe that ticketing hurdles faced by Indian rail travelers can be solved using big data, and predictive analytics, a technology that is now being adopted by India’s railway department itself.
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of Indian Railways had launched a prediction feature on its online ticket booking platform in May 2018. Apart from this, train comparison portal Railyatri, backed by investors like Omidyar Network, and Nandan Nilekani also added prediction support on its portal.
In December 2018, Google had also acquired Bengaluru-based Where Is MyTtrain, a train tracking and route information app under its ‘next billion users’ initiative.
Confirmtikt’s prediction algorithms have been continuously growing and feeding itself with data right from 2014. Data sourced from Confirmtkt’s portal shows that around 40% of the daily 600,000 train bookings made in India, via both online and offline medium, go directly into a wait list.
Transport mobility experts who track Indian railways say that black-marketing of tickets, low capacity on non-premium trains and the rising influence of middlemen in train ticketing are contributing factors to wait-listed tickets.
These findings come at a time when big data is seeing increased adoption by India’s government across its public service departments. Over 20 million people use the Indian Railways currently, and India’s Railway minister Piyush Gopal himself said in early 2018, that the railways has been sitting on a massive pile of data, which yet to be put in good use.
Chitresh Srivastava, a rail enthusiast and expert pointed out that black marketing of tickets happens across both premium and non-premium trains.
Sanjay Mehta, angel investor in Confimrtkt said that once the railway system in India in gets privatized, customer experience would take the center-stage.
“Any consumer-facing app with a mass user active user-base can take over this opportunity, and I see Confirmtkt headed in that direction to become the Paytm of train ticketing space," Mehta said.
“The agent login provisions provided by IRCTC is largely to be blamed. In 2009-10 the railway ministry made an effort to eradicate the role of middlemen, but now middlemen are back into business," said Srivastava.