Over the last decade, the dining-out culture has risen in our country. We prefer to go out to a good restaurant and spend some quality time with our dear ones. The problem with this culture, is a rather silly one, the problem of finding a good table. With so many people preferring to dine-out, we rarely find a good seat. Thanks to Dineout, a startup that focuses on resolving this problem, we can now achieve that simple dream.
The four founders of Dineout – Ankit Mehrotra, Sahil Jain, Nikhil Bakshi and Vivek knew the culture of doing things online would soon catch up in India. There already was a dining-out culture, and they were confident that soon enough people would start booking tables online too. “When we started in 2012, it was of the most difficult times to start in the table reservations space. Everyone wasn’t as savvy with the online world as they are now and nobody would look at reserving tables online, especially in India,” says Vivek Kapoor, Founder, Dineout. It was a Herculean task for them as restaurants weren’t as tech-savvy as they are now. Also popular restaurants didn’t sense the need, as they already had many patrons. On the other hand newer restaurants felt that they wanted to explore the solution when they were financially strong. So for the four founders it meant making endless calls, waiting for hours in lobbies to get a cheque for a meagre Rs 2,000, no holidays, and questions like – “…are you still with Dineout?” When the team had launched in 2012, they had also raised a small seed amount, and they were able to scale because they were generating revenue from day one.
Today, the social media buzz for a restaurant starts much before it opens. Vivek says that online real estate for restaurants is equally important as the physical, offline one. So today, while everyone is talking about the foodtech bust and how they are struggling, few realize that we haven’t even hit 10 percent of the online food market. The four-year journey for Dineout has been an interesting one. In the second year of its business it was acquired by Times Internet at a deal value of $10 million. In September 2015, Dineout also acquired InResto, which was founded by Vijayan Parthasarthy and Vamsi Yalamachili. InResto provides features like table management, reservations, customer relationship management and analytics, home delivery and takeaway management. On their entry into the B2B segment with InResto, Vivek says:
“In 2014, we were able to understand that a restaurant today is unable to recognize or profile its customers. In many cases there are customers who come in several times into a restaurant, bill ‘x’ amount and order similarly. It was important that restaurants had that visibility. The acquisition was to help Dineout work the complete value chain on how restaurants get their customers, manage them and re-engage with them”.
The app is very simple to use, you pick a restaurant of your choice and then select a table. You hold your table and voila, when you arrive at the restaurant, you’ll be taken to your table. That’s it, no fuss, no call waiting or being on the phone to book a table.
The simplicity and the uniqueness has helped the team collaborate with over 3,000 restaurants for table reservations, including chains like Azure, Impressario, Texmex and Specialty. Over 1,000 restaurants use the inResto Restaurant Management Suite. Dineout has seated 1.5 lakh people so far, a number that is growing by 25 percent month-on-month. Diner count on the Dineout-inResto platform is increasing by 30 percent month-on-month. Adding to this, since chains have the inResto platform, wherever a restaurant is opened, the inResto base opens out.