PocketIn: A Startup to Send Reservation Requests to Multiple Restaurants and Make Them Bid for You

Started by Kshitij Mehra and Anirudh Mondal, Noida-based Pocketin is an Android app where a user can send a reservation request to multiple restaurants at once citing his discount bid. The discount bids can be customized differently for different restaurants and according to the average bid which Pocketin keeps updating weekly based on analytics. Within 30 minutes, user gets responses back from the restaurants with a simple yes or a no. So now, they can decide easily which place to visit depending upon who is willing to give him the best price and service.

The app comes with an in-built chat platform where the dining experts assist the users to decide their restaurant by giving information such as specialties, happy hour timings, user reviews and much more. It’s built to personalize the whole experience and to make the decision making process quick.

According to Kshitij Mehra, the CEO of the company, “It’s important for the customer to demand, to get the best price or the best service, through our unique model, a customer can now demand the best price according to his budget across hundreds of locations in seconds.”

Where did the idea to start Pocketin come from?

The idea of Pocketin struck the founders in June 2015 and they started working on it. They understood that there is a need of a product in market which can not only make table reservations easy for users but also allow them to enjoy their experience at the best possible price. Other table reservation platforms also incentivises the user by giving him a bouquet of standard deals and discounts, which are fixed. This app takes into consideration that every user is unique and the discount he/she get should also take into account what he intends to spend, no. of guests along with them and at what time they are visiting.

“The inspiration to start the venture was because we ourselves were big foodies. Both of us faced great difficulties while getting a discount for our next visit. Either we forgot to get the respective credit card/ get print outs. We were denied our discount because the discount expired just 5 minutes before we reached the outlet. And, we always got the same discount irrespective of spending much more than the average ticket size. We sat down for two weeks to carefully jot down all the inefficiencies in the discount booking existing models. And finally developed Pocketin after carefully ironing each one of them,” added Co-Founders.

What problems is the startup solving?

The startup offers real time discounts which vary according to the time/date of request, number of guests and budget. Through its app, one can get a discount which suits him/her best after getting responses from the placed bids. Also, the application has a Helpchat like integrated chat platform especially for diners. The dining experts help the user with everything related to dining and restaurants. The company ensures that, once a user has made the booking through it, everything else is seamless, from the confirmation call/message to the final billing. User does not have to “ask” for the discount, he/she simple gets it at the time of the billing.

Who are its competitors?

The startup face competition from other apps which the restaurants use to get business. Couponing sites like CouponDunia, MyDala, Hike, GroupOn (nearbuy) offer coupons for dining. Table reservation websites like CrownIT, Eazydiner, EveningFlavours, and BiteQuest also offer discounts and deals along with table reservation. Mobile payment solutions such as Ruplee and Momoe run discounts when one transacts through their app. Other means such as corporate discounts and credit card discounts are used by users.

What are the startup fund raising plans?

PocketIn is actively in talks with a few individual investors and would shortly be closing its seed round.

What response has the startup received till now since the launch of the service?

In a short span of about 20 days of its app launch, the startup has got more than 4000+ downloads on the Android play store. The firm has more than 60 established restaurants as its partners with whom it work very closely. The company has a team of 10 people currently, and expect to double by this year end.

How does it monetize? 

The startup charges a commission of 5-7.5% of every transaction that is happening through its platform.

What are its future plans and growth strategy?

In the coming months, the company would see not only restaurants listed on its platform but gyms, spas and salons too. The pan Indian market for Gyms and Salons is over 15000 crores which is highly untapped as of now.

“Through our unique model, one can be rest assured of getting the best possible price for any booking they make through us,”  added Kshitij Mehra. PocketIn plan to reach the 2,00,000 download mark with above 5000 daily users at the end of September 2016.

What is the market size and market opportunity? 

Indian food services industry is more than $41 billion and its growing at a CAGR of 11% out of which 14% is organized as of now. Indian restaurant industry is over 85,000 crore (SMERGERS 2014) and is growing at 8-9% annually. Today, the number of eating outlets has swelled up to 15 lakh. PocketIn is addressing the casual dining and fine dining industry which is pegged currently at 50,000 crores.

There is a clear trend of the unorganized sector which currently constitutes 85% of the industry slowly moving towards organized and that is the opportunity the startup is going after. Smart phone penetration in India is happening at a break neck speed and people are starting to use smartphones for booking their grocery, furniture, food etc.

“We see that restaurants which currently rely on very few marketing channels are slowly adopting to more channels of affiliated marketing. What we have done right is that we charge our partner restaurants for only the business that we get them. We don’t get them just leads, but guaranteed business, said Kshitij.

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