I remember the first time I drove my dad’s Maruti Esteem, it was electrifying. A high that I absolutely still feel every single time I get behind the wheel. Am sure there are plenty like me who absolutely love the feeling of burning rubber, a hard steering wheel and the open road, but only a handful turn this joy into a full-blown career. Meet Medha Joseph and Sujal Patwardhan, the duo behind the bespoke tourism company EmbarQ, which specialises in giving people the wonders of road trips. The founders were both on the road from India to Morocco for 57 days across 15 countries and 3 continents! The balance of corporate life and driving was broken, and eventually the automotive side of them took over. Their ultimate aim? To get more women interested in travelling the road off the beaten path! SheThePeople.TV caught up with them recently for a quick chat!
Resilience is the key – especially in difficult times – when you hit a low, it is important to continue believing in your product and keep moving forward. Sujal & Medha
Tell us the story behind EmbarQ. Why did you decide to make travel your business?
In 2015 we successfully completed overland expedition from India to Morocco (with 4 other friends) across 16 countries covering a distance of 23000 km in 57 days. After the trip, we just couldn’t go back to our corporate jobs. We knew this was our calling and started Embarq Motorworld in October 2015. The lack of knowledge, paperwork, driving on the right side of the road, traffic rules, navigation, etc bogs people down and we wanted to make it easy for them by focusing on delivering a pleasurable experience.
Why only road trips? What is about the road that excites you?
The quaint villages, offbeat routes through mountains and ravines, meeting the locals, enjoying the local cuisine is what truly gets you to experience the beauty of a place and its culture. The flexibility you enjoy while on road makes the whole travel more exciting and adventurous. A tourist experience on local transport can never compare to this!
Do you see many women drivers in India who are taking their travel passion forward internationally?
Yes and no. Yes there are a few and no there are not enough. But we want to make that happen with our first all women India to Thailand drive. In the recent past there have been a few women who have taken up the overland expedition of driving from India to Europe. Also, women are more confident in renting cars and driving around in other countries!
Their concerns regarding safety, security, experience are completely taken care of. This not only puts the women at ease but their families as well. – Sujal & Medha
Why did you decide to do an All Women’s Drive from Guwahati to Thailand? Give us more details.
We have taken this initiative to help people experience the wonders of travelling abroad and do something that celebrates the fact that women today are liberated and are breaking barriers. What better way to portray this than to do it literally and figuratively and that is how the concept of India to Thailand Drive worked out.
Having done this route from Guwahati to Thailand multiple times we wanted to provide an opportunity where women could sign-up without any hesitation. Their concerns regarding safety, security, experience are completely taken care of. This not only puts the women at ease but their families as well.
What is your advice to startup founders?
We are ourselves too young to give gyan and advice, however we believe that passion drives us immensely. Resilience is the key – especially in difficult times – when you hit a low, it is important to continue believing in your product and keep moving forward.
According to you, how are women breaking stereotypes in areas such as rally racing, off road racing and more?
Well we see more and more women who are leading by examples. Recently Flying officer Avani Chaturvedi, the first woman pilot of the Indian Air Force completed a solo flight in a fighter aircraft. We also have had astronauts of Indian ladies and others who have gone into space and set a stellar example. It’s about making sure that you offer a safe and secure experience where by women can explore their passions and take it to the next level.
What is your life mantra?
Be honest to yourself. Do something you believe in, stick to what you are doing as long as you are believing in it and try and have fun along the way.