If you have booked a train ticket and/or laughed at IRCTC jokes, you might be aware of the waiting ticket scenario in India. A delay of merely few minutes on the day of ticket opening will result in a waiting ticket for you. And this is not the case with the Tatkal ticket, rather in a normal reservation which starts well in advance(2 months). A waiting ticket is only confirmed few hours before the journey, which in a lot of cases is not very convenient time to know. If you have a long route or urgent journey, you have no alternative other than costly bus or flight tickets.
So when you are in a situation when you have just the wait listed tickets available, how do you decide if you should take it or not. If not, should you go with Tatkal or try another modes of transport?
Getting a confirmed ticket to travel will no more be a dream. We make it happen every time you travel
Say hello to ConfirmTKT. It predicts chance of train ticket confirmation based on historical data. Then you can access risks and plan your trip accordingly. And it won’t leave you at the predictions itself, but you can get alternatives as well based on various options available for the route.
A second shot at entrepreneurship, ConfirmTKT was founded by Sripad vaidya and Dinesh Kumar Kotha, two former IBM guys. Sripad is a travel freak and pure analytics guy and he handles all analytics and operations at ConfirmTKT. While Dinesh is a hardcore techie who can build anything and everything, no matter what the platform and technology.
The Idea and starting phase
Playing around with problems is not a new zone for Sripad and Dinesh. They built their first product to give an estimated fare for autos so you can negotiate with auto drivers. It was launched in the form of android app called Meterup (link) in 2011. The product didn’t kick off as well as both expected. But they moved on from auto to train. And this time it was not just about price of ticket. There was a certain discomfort attached to travelling by train.
“We faced the same problem which every Indian train traveler faces . Whenever we plan to travel from Bangalore to Hyderabad (to our native places), we would see long waitlist” – says Sripad. They had 2 options:
- Either travel by train (if you are lucky enough to get a ticket)
- Start shelling out huge amount of money on the buses . Which would be some where 5-10 times of the train fare during the peak season / weekends .
They started by observing the ticketing trends for train (Bangalore Express-12785) which they usually took. And surprisingly they saw a trend in the way booking and cancellations happen . To try out they started booking the waitlist tickets based on the observation and mostly both travelled with Confirmed ticket .
“So at the point we thought of building a software which can predict and help is common user” – says Sripad.
By late 2012, the partners had started writing software to accumulate data for analyzing viability of waiting tickets confirmation. They came up with the name ConfirmTKT, which tells the whole story of what they were doing.
How it works?
They offer two main services:
- Predicting the confirmation chances of waitlist tickets based on the past trends.
- Discovering all the alternate options to travel on a train . When the ticket is in waitlist.
The intelligence behind the ConfirmTKT PNR predictions is very close to how humans think.
“We humans predict and act on the future based on past experiences. In the similar way ,ConfirmTKT algorithm analyses the past ticketing trends and predicts your ticket confirmation chances.” – mentions Sripad.
ConfirmTKT maintains confirmation thresholds for every train and predict the ticket confirmation chances based on them. It is designed in such a way that it learns while predicting. So, the more we predict the more accurate and efficient we are. In fact, ConfirmTKT prediction algorithm is highly efficient and trusted. It has been thoroughly tested on about 2500 trains and achieved an overall accuracy of 88%.
However, they never stopped innovating. Even though they started predicting the trains ,there were some tickets for which confirmation chances are very low (ConfirmTKT status shows “No Chance”). The number of ticket which would end up in waitlist is huge. After a deep analysis of the train data, they designed an algorithm which would start exploring all the possible quota`s available on a train to discover an alternate way to travel. Below is an info-graphic which is self-explanatory.
Industry and Competition
It huge daily market in India. Almost out of 2.2 million people who book train tickets, around 7.8 lakhs would be in waitlist. They will be looking for predictions and they are the ones benefiting from this service. Currently, there is a very small number of other websites which does the same.
ConfirmTKT brings its unique algorithm and it never ever changes the predictions. This has been the key for their success till now . Also apart from predictions they have developed a ticket discovery algorithm, which will find all the possible ways of getting a confirmed ticket by utilizing all the quota`s available on a train.
Challenges and Road Ahead
“We worked almost for 2 years to develop our algorithms and launch it to public. Difficult task was to get the huge data, analyse it and build a logic which is useful to a common man.”
The company is still bootstrapped. They are looking for investors to fund this and take it to next levels.
Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs
In their own words:
“If you have an Idea, its never too late. Start building it .No idea is bad if you execute it properly. Don’t think about revenue. Once you build a product, you can tweak it somehow to get revenue out of it .Trust your gut feeling & never ever stop dreaming.”
Links to applications
PNR Predictions on SMS: Send @confirmtkt <pnr#> to 51115 to get PNR Predictions on SMS.
Ex: Send SMS as below
@confirmtkt 4512563562 to 51115