Vikram Bharati is from Los Angeles, California. In 2014, he took a six months sabbatical from his banking career to travel across South America. That turned into two years of solo backpacking around the world, which later led him to settle down in Singapore and start a hospitality company called Tribe Theory, later rebranded to Draper Startup House.
Vikram has a vision to build a new category in hospitality: a global chain of startup houses combining traditional hospitality, micro campuses, and investment houses. Draper Startup House currently has 10 locations worldwide. He previously served as head of venture capital investments at Reapra, where he made investments in early-stage ventures across Asia.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
KrAsia (Kr): Can you tell us the story behind Draper Startup House?
Vikram Bharati (VB): In 2014, I left my corporate banking job to travel. I was hitchhiking and backpacking across South America and I absolutely loved it. I also started staying in these backpacker hostels.
The main reason was to keep within budget, since I needed an affordable space. But another thing was that I really enjoyed the concept of backpacker hostels, built for young travellers who seek adventure and new cultures. With one trip, I didn’t want to stop. So I hopped over to Europe and did the same, then to Asia, and did the same thing. Two years flew by.
I came to Singapore as a backpacker as well. I liked it so much, I decided to settle myself down. So, as I was travelling and staying in backpacker hostels, I gained some important insights. Firstly, these spaces make fantastic aggregators: people from different countries, backgrounds, and cultures share a common space for bonding and learning. Secondly, backpacker hostels were only being used for travelling tourism but I saw way more potential in a multi-cultural, multi-dimensional space like that. Thirdly, I began to realize that tourism wasn’t just about pub crawls or city walks; it could adopt an entrepreneurial side.
What if there was an opportunity for these ‘backpacking tourists’ to learn about business here, and join the startup ecosystem if interested?
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