Investments, Technology

[Q/A] Dineout adds restaurant reservation feature to TimesCity app

TimesCity, today announced the acquisition of the online restaurant reservation portal for an undisclosed amount. Last year, the company has also acquired Gawbl, another startup in the similar space.

Founded in 2012, Dineout is a venture of four entrepreneurs viz. Vivek Kapoor, Ankit Mehrotra, Sahil Jain and Nikhil Bakshi. They are currently operational in Mumbai and New Delhi.

TimesCity, on the other hand, is a platform where users can explore and discover new restaurants, nightlife, movies and events in their city.  It is available on the web, mobile and mobile apps (Android, iOS, Nokia X). It currently operates out of 11 cities in India with over 47000 restaurants listed and around 2 million unique visitors in a month.

So, what features of Dineout attracted TimesCity? What are the plans post acquisition? Here is a brief interaction with TimesCity’s Business Head, Miten Sampat to get answers to these and few more..

What are the factors you usually focus upon while acquiring a company? This is the second acquisition of Timescity in the similar space after Gawbl. Any specific motives behind this?

We usually look forward to three things while acquiring a company. First is the technology they are bringing in to the company. Next is definitely the talent and lastly, if they are able to fill the gaps in our portfolio.

Gawbl was about moving our app to the next generation and essentially design that in a way to be helpful in coming to the mobile front. It gave Timescity a strong mobile platform. The entire vision of acquisition of this platform was realized when Apple featured the TimesCity app as the #1 great free lifestyle app in India. We have been receiving great reviews from users who have engaged with it.  

Dineout gives us a different kind of capability. Looking at the usage patterns of timescity and talking to consumers and restaurant merchants, we realized that its really a whole service destination what people want. While finding the information about good restaurants, they would also like to call or order online or reserve table at the same time. Also, reserving a table is becoming a very very fast growing trend because of the growing traffic and chaos especially in the metro cities. At TimesCity, our vision is to provide a full-service destination for foodies, from discovery to destination, and the acquisition of Dineout takes us closer to that goal.

You are already having the facility of restaurant reservation on the web portal of Timescity. So, why you need dine out to integrate the same into your mobile platform?

We found out that Dineout team has really done a great job in executing the problem from a real time perspective. It has deployed technology not only on our side but also on the restaurant side. Dineout also provides an Electronic Reservation Book to the restaurants, which provides them an effective way to manage their bookings in real-time. So we think that by bringing them into the timescity, we will be able to offer our merchants also another avenue to get more ROI.

Also, this company has managed to do a maximum number of transactions that we have seen in this space. In about 18 months of its launch, Dineout has integrated around 450 restaurants with majority of them in Delhi/NCR, around 350 and rest in Mumbai. They were on a run rate of 15-20,000 diners for a month, which is a pretty big number in this space. Overall, they have so far connected over 200,000 diners to various restaurants.

What are the unique advantages that TimesCity will gain with Dineout acquisition?

With the Dineout platform, the TimesCity users will be able to take the next step in the “where should we go for dinner/lunch” question. TimesCity content enables users to find a great restaurant, and with “click to reserve” feature, users can now get a guaranteed table when they arrive at the time of their choice. We will also be offering special value-adds and offers for diners who reserve ahead of time.

What would be the future path for Dineout with TimesCity? Will it continue with its independent operations?

Initially Dineout will be functioning independently. We will slowly integrate the two platforms.

How is the response so far for the TimesCity app launched a few months back? Can we expect more features integrated into the app with this deal?

The TimesCity app has been doing really well. At present, the app is gaining attraction in the Asia Pacific region and is leading ahead of competitors such as Zomato and Burrp. If talked about the demographics then the major users for the app are males from the age group of 15-24. While for both Zomato and Burrp, this number is 25-34.

What are the near-future plans of the company?

We are obsessively focused on being a platform where our users can explore & discover new restaurants, nightlife, movies, and happening events across their city. With Dineout integrated to Timescity, we will be currently providing the table reservation facilities in Mumbai and Delhi. In the near term, we will be launching a fresh look to our website, and expanding to other markets across India.

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