The rise of the internet has brought unprecedented change to the way we live our lives, more so in current times. Money has become paperless, food and goods get delivered at your doorstep, and you can a ride at any time of the day at the touch of a button. Be it Foodmandu, Tootle, or eSewa; young tech-startups have radically changed how businesses and industries think and what customers demand. Amidst all this change, it seems that the industry for inter-district travel has remained fairly old fashioned. Even now, most highway travelers end up having to wait in long lines for bus tickets for seats and buses they don’t get to pick and choose. However, Okay Journey, a travel and tech startup, is setting itself up to tackle this very problem.
Rajesh Das – the founder for Okay Journey – used to be an engineering student studying in Kathmandu. His hometown is in Sarlahi. It was a yearly norm for Das to travel back home by bus every holiday. But each year, Das had to face the same troubles, “I had to book bus tickets. However the closest ticket counter from my village was 2-3 hours away. And I had to book tickets at least a day in advance.” He further adds, “On top of that, most of the times the tickets prices wouldn’t be fair or the seats wouldn’t be good.” After facing this nuisance time and again, year after year, Das sought to find a solution to his problem. He came to realise that he was not the only one who had gotten tired of this hassle that come with traveling on the Nepali highways.
He began to create an early rendition of Okay Journey. An engineer by profession, Das managed to teach himself to code and design webpages, and very soon he had a rough but functional version of his vision up and running. When the company was finally registered in 2018, Das shares that he had been working on it for long before.
Right now, Das and his team are building Okay Journey to become a one-stop solution for all forms of inter-city travel in Nepal. The company does not only provide online bus and airline booking system, it also allows users to compare ticket prices and select vehicles based on previous customer ratings. “In our first version, we had simply created an extensive archive of the numbers of almost all the buses traveling to major locations. If you had to travel to Pokhara from Kathmandu, the user could simply directly connect with whatever bus they liked best,” shares Das. Now Okay Journey has expanded to having a pre-listed set of prices for seats that users can choose from without having to get directly in touch with the bus operators. Much like how you would book an airplane ticket or make a hotel reservation online, Okay Journey has simply done the same for the Nepali inter-city highway travel industry.
The company has set its sights to further expanding its services. Not only has Okay Journey built a strong network of highway vehicles, it has also touched the airline booking and hotel reservations market as well. Further, the company has also launched its very own app to make things more convenient for users.
“What we provide companies is a travel management system. With our help, drivers and operators do not have to worry about making route plans, selling tickets and even marketing themselves.”
Das promises that in forthcoming updates, the Okay Journey app plans on introducing better user interfaces as well other nifty features such as real-time GPS tracking and even offline entertainment systems.
But customers are not the only people that Okay Journey believes they can help. According to Das, the company is working to have drivers and bus operators enjoy better business. He shares, “What we provide companies is a travel management system. With our help, drivers and operators do not have to worry about making route plans, selling tickets and even marketing themselves.”
He explains that Okay Journey is not trying to eradicate travel operators but rather work with these operators across the country to create a centralised system that is beneficial for both clients and providers.
Okay Journey’s progress has not been without its fair share of challenges. When Das first came up with a plan for Okay Journey, he was still a student. Not only was it an arduous task for him to collect the initial seed fund for his business, but the mental dilemma to leave behind his engineering background to build his own company from the ground up was also an equally challenging task. “I even started working as a Java developer for a different company. I wasn’t happy and felt pressurised there. I realised that even though I might earn working for somebody else, it was not something that I enjoyed doing,” Das shares.
As for the pandemic, Das believes that for them, the situation has driven more people to shift to a totally online based platform. He even goes on to share that this might just be the first step towards an entirely digitised Nepal. With a service that not only promotes efficiency but also increases economy, Das believes that his company has a bright and steady future in the Nepali digital ecosystem. He imagines that in the days to come, Okay Journey will be able to expand its routes to even outside the country, along with introducing more innovative features that help both customers and businesses.