In January 2020, on a day when India witnessed its first COVID-19 case, entrepreneur Mayank Kukreja signed a term sheet to raise $13 million in a Series B round, led by Greenoaks Capital and Vy Capital.
“This is going to be hard, but we’ll get through it,” he recalls the chat he had with the investors.
The next few months turned out to be particularly tough for Mayank and Anish Khadiya, who were raising the funds for their business travel and expense management startup ITILITE, as the world went into a full-scale lockdown.
Overnight, the government banned any movement except for essential activities. This was a big blow for ITILITE, which helps businesses manage corporate travel through its software-as-a-service platform.
“It was not a great time for the travel industry,” Mayank acknowledges. However, ITILITE’S team was optimistic, and believed travel would come back.
“March, April, and May 2020 were a little uncertain, but it became clear very quickly after the first wave that companies would travel again,” he says.
A few months on, that’s what happened. People were working remotely, but not entirely, and companies began planning some travel.
Mayank says sales and account management teams comprise a large part of travel. “Our salespeople, any company we speak to…their salespeople…all were itching to go back to the (travel) role,” he says.
The founders believed that “six months, 12 months, 24 months, whatever time it takes, companies will travel again”. And they were right.
Today, ITILITE claims to deliver “more than 30 percent cost savings, 40 percent improvement in finance productivity, and 60 percent higher employee delight to businesses”.
How did it all begin?
Founded in 2017, ITILITE provides a travel and expense management platform to businesses to manage their travel bookings and reimbursements.
“When you travel for work, most companies in India will have to call or email a travel desk and then there’ll be an…