udChalo – Servicing Defence Personnel Needs with Care and Dedicated Vision

Army Day Feature

Now a unique travel portal catering to the needs of defence personnel and their families and called aptly “udChalo” started by two engineering graduates from the Army Institute of Technology, Pune has within six years since its launch in 2015 picked up rapidly.

Coming at a time when the defence forces have been in the forefront guarding the nation’s frontiers and facing tense moments in the Northern borders with China and in the Western borders with Pakistan, this portal provides them the much needed support specially for those who are posted in remote locations and when on a break would like to reach home or have a break with least possible hassles

udChalo is a leading Consumer Technology Company that was launched to make life simpler for soldiers. The co-founder and CEO of the company Ravi Kumar, along with a college colleague, visualised this concept of creating specific travel products and services to fulfil the demands of soldiers. The portal has indeed come as a boon not only for the personnel serving in the armed forces but also to their family members.

Besides providing holiday packages to defence personnel and their families, it goes a step further as this portal also provides employment opportunities.

The company has grown exponentially, meeting the needs of more than 2.8 million active Defence Personnel, and also Veterans and dependents. The company has witnessed a phenomenal growth of 450% CAGR in the last 5 years.

Ravi Kumar, one of the founders of the company along with his college mate Varun Jain, is an alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Seed program and an engineering graduate from the Army Institute of Technology, Pune. Prior to udChalo, he worked for companies like TATA Faurecia, Dassault Systems. His defence background and a will to make travel easier for soldiers led to the conceptualization of udChalo.

As CEO, Ravi leads the development of the Company’s short and long-term strategy, in keeping with the organization’s vision and mission.

Coming at a time when the defence forces have been in the forefront guarding the nation’s frontiers and facing tense moments in the Northern borders with China and in the Western borders with Pakistan, this portal provides them the much needed support specially for those who are posted in remote locations and when on a break would like to reach home or have a break with least possible hassles.

Ravi Kumar – Founder and CEO

The idea for udChalo evolved around 2011 but took final shape in 2015. Having come from families with a defence background, they were aware of the issues that prevailed within and how to address them head-on. It all started with the idea to support the armed forces who end up traveling last minute due to the sudden leave sanctions and cancellations. These unplanned trips cause a lot of discomfort with unreserved train tickets and the option of flying burning a hole in their pocket.

To ease their travel issues, udChalo created a new segment for the aviation industry by helping these army soldiers by booking flight tickets for them at lucrative prices. Initially, less than 50 soldiers used to avail these services, but now over 5,000 use these facilities daily.

To ease the customer base, physical outreach centres were opened across the country especially in areas where internet connectivity was a prime issue. The portal to make life easier for the personnel of the defence forces opened 70 such physical centres located even at remote areas like Uri, Imphal, Kupwara to cater to soldiers’ needs and requirements along with the online portal. These centres are completely managed by soldiers and their dependents. udChalo also provides employment to the dependants of defence personnel and has over 50% employees who comprise of Veterans, Dependants and Veer Naris.

To further provide holistic and accessible solutions, udChalo also launched various other services like Financial Services, Group Housing, Consumer Products and Services and Utility Bill Payments specifically catering to the armed forces. All this enabled the service personnel to lessen their day to day burdens apart from the tensions prevailing in the border areas where they were on duty

Sharing her experience at udChalo, employee, daughter of ex-servicemen with teaching experience says that the company provided her with an amazing opportunity to work and learn. Working her has helped her hone up her skills and gain immense knowledge with fun and comfort.

Another udChalo employee said that the company helped her restart her professional career afresh post marriage. As a home maker and mother of two small kids, she has been working from home and is thankful to udChalo for providing her with the flexibility to balance her work and family life with ease.

To further provide holistic and accessible solutions, udChalo also launched various other services like Financial Services, Group Housing, Consumer Products and Services and Utility Bill Payments specifically catering to the armed forces. All this enabled the service personnel to lessen their day to day burdens apart from the tensions prevailing in the border areas where they were on duty.

These made life that much easier for the service personnel specially those serving in remote areas and away from their homes.

As Senior Security Officer at DLRL, Hyderabad Lt Col Shivanand Basappa, who has been associated with udChalo in booking air tickets said the recent developments has created in providing services like booking buses, rooms etc… a very good platform.

“Recently I had booked a bus ticket with udChalo from Hyderabad to Mumbai, a user friendly interface which gave me adequate options to choose from and select buses. My travel to Mumbai was equally good, comfortable and I enjoyed the journey. Great interacting with team udChalo, wonderful service,” he said.

The company not only catered to the various requirements of the defence personnel and their families, but also was recognized by Guinness World Records for participation and supporting two record-breaking cycling events and was certified as Great Places to Work in 2021

The company not only catered to the various requirements of the defence personnel and their families, but also was recognized by Guinness World Records for participation and supporting two record-breaking cycling events and was certified as Great Places to Work in 2021. It also ranked fourth at the Economic Times ET Rise awards among India’s Fastest Growing MSME 2020 and was certified as Best Employment Generating MSE at SIDBI ET India MSE Awards 2019.

As part of its diversification, the portal also launched the Utkarsh – Unnati ki Udaan Program which empowers women from the defence family and gives them an opportunity to utilize their time from the comfort of their homes. AWWA (Army Wives Welfare Association) has acknowledged the initiative and even posted it on their own website.

Thanking udChalo for all the support and help to restart her professional career, wife of an armed officer, a qualified Architect says that working at udChalo since July has been an amazing experience as the supportive work environment has helped her regain confidence and boosted her morale to do well as a professional.

Similarly, wife of a soldier describes her experience at udChalo as blessing in disguise. Working from home for udChalo not only helped her make a comeback professionally, it has also assisted her in making a smooth transition, thanks to udChalo’s conducive work environment.

Another noteworthy initiative of this portal was the setting up of a Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre which supports the paraplegic and quadriplegic members of the soldier community. A remote call centre is operated from the centres in Pune and Mohali and they are in line with soldiers’ time schedule thus ensuring zero discomforts and hugely empowering them to learn and apply new skills and rebuild their confidence.

With a large number of service personnel retiring every year and with a trained manpower, the company has taken steps to ensure that this manpower is properly utilized and also thus providing alternate employment opportunities.

As part of its initiative to develop life skills at the grassroots level, it has an internship programme for students from army colleges who are given an opportunity to work closely with retired army men and help them excel in their skills and prepare for future job roles

Another initiative by the portal is the Company Chalo programme to help and prepare veterans to get back to the mainstream business once they retire from the armed forces. Due to this placement service, today, many corporate offices are closely working with udChalo to fulfil their talent management requirement.

As part of its initiative to develop life skills at the grassroots level, it has an internship programme for students from army colleges who are given an opportunity to work closely with retired army men and help them excel in their skills and prepare for future job roles.