In 2013 Prospus launched the Prospus Fund to invest in startups. While the Fund had always invested into American-led companies, in 2018 President and Founder Marc Ragsdale decided to look east. The first Indian startup, an interior design visualization app targeting middle-class renters and home owners, will be followed by an app targeting the burgeoning travel market. Code-named “Pormora”, the app was the brainchild of Ragsdale himself, a long-time Indian resident.
In reviewing his past records in 2018, Ragsdale realized that his company Prospus and he personally coordinated over $250,000 worth of trips from the US, middle east, Europe, and East Asia since 2004. “I have hosted friends, relatives, and visiting business-people, all of whom wanted some element of travel and sight-seeing integrated into their time here”, Ragsdale said. “Organizing, coordinating, and executing a trip across the world to a place like India is a challenge”, he added. “There is an extraordinary amount of planning that goes into the process, and it reminds me of another industry I know very well: software. There are things we do in software development that deliver great dividends to all parties; I don’t see any such parallels in travel. It’s as if no one has examined the two models for inspiration”.
In 2008, after spending four years in the Himalayan foothills, Ragsdale also funded and ran an Indian travel agency called Little Buddha Tours, booking multiple trips in the first year. He later closed it down when he decided to move the Prospus delivery center to Delhi. “Travel is something I know well, but is also something that is booming in India”, Ragsdale noted, in reference to projections that the Indian travel market is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, forecasted to more than double in size over the next 10 years. According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), in 2017 India was ranked the seventh country in the world in terms of travel and tourism’s total contribution to GDP. And during the January to October 2018 period, arrivals through e-visa increased 45% year-over-year to 1.80 million.
Aside from Ragsdale’s direct experience with the market, and the exciting upward growth trend of the industry, the Fund sees an opportunity to test the waters with the app in India and quickly move globally. “The concept we are working on will really work anywhere; it’s not India-specific. We have found a way to bring travel agents, tour operators, and travelers together in a single, transparent environment, giving travelers more choice and flexibility when crafting their dream vacation”, Ragsdale shared. Prospus is administering the company and will be appointing a joint US-Indian team to tackle the initial growth phase post-validation. The Pormora project is looking to have an MVP by the middle of 2019, and aims to secure an additional round of funding before the year is out if the app succeeds. We look forward to providing progress updates throughout our journey.