Sunday, October 15, 2017

How Instalocate helps aggrieved flyers get compensation from airlines

It was around last Diwali when the Jains stumbled on their eureka moment. The travel buffs were stuck at San Francisco airport when a flight to Delhi was delayed due to a technical problem for over six hours. Result: the duo couldn’t reach home on time to join the family for the festive celebration.
“Instead of providing help, the airline was not responsive at all,” recounts Pallavi. A hunt for alternative options to reach Delhi proved futile as all flights were already booked due to the festive rush. “It was a frustrating experience,” she recalls, adding that what aggravated the misery was the realisation that the duo was legally entitled to get compensation but were not informed by the airline. After an exasperating month of filing documents, the gritty duo got compensation of €600.
“The agonising wait resulted in a tantalising business idea,” grins Pallavi who cofounded Instalocate with her husband in April this year. An artificial intelligence powered travel assistant, the Instalocate app enables disgruntled flyers to get compensation from airlines in case of flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding. In a little under five months, the fledgling startup has processed over $3,00,000 (Rs 1.95 crore) worth of compensation, has seen over 3 lakh people using its services and over 1.1 million messages exchanged over its instant messanger, claims Ankur, cofounder and CEO.
Instalocate, which raised funding from angel investors in Silicon Valley such as Venky Hari, founder of Junglee, and Gokul Rajaram, works on a simple business model: a neat 25% commission when the aggrieved passengers get compensated by airlines. It’s a win-win for the passengers, lets on Ankur, as they don’t have to pay anything upfront. “We are putting money back into their pockets,” he says.
15/10/17 Rajiv Singh/Economic Times