Noel Swain has been with Cleartrip ever since its inception and has played a big role in shaping Cleartrip to what it is today. In this coverage as a part of the “Awesome Startup Employee” series, we got in touch with Noel, to know his story.
Cleartrip has become a benchmark when it comes to product design in India. Among the leading online travel companies in India, Cleartrip is based on a straight forward premise of “making travel simple” for its customers. It achieves this with a clean and clutter free website, a site that is fast to load, quick in providing relevant information, simple to navigate and offering an easy booking process.
A prominent venture in the online travel segment, Cleartrip was founded in 2004 by Matthew Spacie, Hrush Bhatt and Stuart Crighton. Here, we meet the second employee to join Cleartrip; who has been around, all along the way – Noel Swain, the Executive Vice President, Supplier Relations. Noel has a vast experience working in the travel sector; first with Kuoni and then with Cox & Kings.
Prior to founding Cleartrip, Stuart Crighton worked with Abacus Distribution Systems while Matthew Spacie was posted to India as Chief Operating Officer of Cox & Kings. This is where Noel met Matthew and decided to come onboard at Cleartrip.
Why? “Having worked for bigger corporations, I always wanted to test myself in the startup arena. The desire to build something from scratch is what drove me to Cleartrip and it’s been an amazing journey, since,” informs Noel. The time they started, eCommerce was just picking up with IRCTC coming into the fray. “We started out with flights. Then with IRCTC picking up, we began the service for trains and hotels were a natural progression,” recalls Noel.
A clear cut sense of product and design is instilled into the work culture of Cleartrip and this sense of perfection oozes out when one speaks to Noel. “Lots of uncluttered white space, simplifying the travel buying experience for the user, keeping the costs in check by offering competitive pricing, creating usage just by the power of product” all these statements send out a very distinct signal – extremely customer oriented, Cleartrip promises to offer convenience, choice without confusion, multiple payment options, competitive prices and exclusive destination information. Noel mentions being responsible to the customer and that is what tells you a lot about what the company believes in.
How does Noel maintain this?
Noel is an early starter. He’s usually at his desk well before 9:00am and dedicates the first hour to recapping all that happened the previous day. This is followed by planning and charting action-points for the current day. Cleartrip is religious about its scrum meetings which happen at 10am everyday. Here, all department heads get together for a quick meeting (on the toes) to catch daily updates. The regular day for Noel involves interacting with partner airlines, maintaining supplier relationships and overseeing general operations for his department.
From a 5 member team, to over 300 employees, Cleartrip has scaled up, slowly and steadily. Reminiscing the old days, Noel says, “We had this tricycle in office, which, for some funny reason, was used by everyone in the office to peddle around to the loo! It’s still there somewhere, but it was one quirky trait I distinctly remember. It was a fun, away-from-desk attraction.”
Talking about the work culture, Noel mentions “We’ve maintained the startup mentality and inspite of being 6-years old now, we are very flexible and agile.” Noel is testament to the spirit of a startup as he’s experienced the corporate-to-startup job transition, and has absolutely loved it. Finishing on a very encouraging note, Noel says, “A startup job adds tremendous value to life in general. The only thing one needs to enjoy a startup job is the passion for what he or she does.”
That was Noel’s journey for you. Do you think you’d like to do something similar? Join a startup today!