Breathe Easy, your table is waiting

Breathe Easy, your table is waiting

Dineout: Torchbearer of the table reservation culture in India

Admit it, you hate it! Standing outside a restaurant in a queue and waiting for a table while your stomach is grumbling becomes an endless torture. Sitting and socializing while tasting delicacies and the delightful aroma of food; customers want to live a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, affrighting the customers with long queues hurts a restaurant’s business. An opportunity in this clutter was sensed by a posse of friends- Sahil Jain, Ankit Mehrotra, Nikhil Bakshi and Vivek Kapoor. The approach was fresh to the Indian market where technology was still crawling and nobody would look at reserving tables online! 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 only when they became financially strong. Observing the sunny future of digitalization in India, these enthusiasts took the chance to risk their comfortable routine for initiating something new and created a mark. And that’s how the journey of Dineout got scripted back in 2012. There was no turning back, in a little while Dineout raised a round of angel investment in the same yearand got acquired by Times Internet in 2014. Further fine-tuning its prowess, Dineout strengthened its robust portfolio by acquiring Bangalore based company, inResto. “We pioneered table reservation in India. Starting a table reservation culture had its own challenges. It was a Herculean task but we are happy we took it on.” adds Ankit proudly.

Delivering a full dress enjoyable eating out experience

Today, Dineout stands as India’s leading table reservation platform seating close to 1MN happy diners a month across 4500+ restaurants in top 8 cities; Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata & Ahmedabad. On Dineout, one can discover the best restaurants in their city, save time by reserving a table in advance, enjoy the best-in-the-industry F&B offers as well as earn cashbacks on every restaurant bill payment. Dineout’s B2B brand, inResto is India’s leading restaurant technology solution nestling the largest number of happy restaurant partners. inResto holds expertise in bestowing simple tools that help F&B businesses to capture & analyze diner data on a daily basis. inResto stitches together restaurant side to the diner side by streamlining the restaurant operations from valet to valet i.e. from the time the diner reaches the restaurant to the time when he leaves the restaurant at the end of his dining experience.  The inResto interface has been painstakingly designed to speak the language of the Indian restaurant manager. From helping them manage waitlists during peak hours, to capturing feedback for actionable insights to aggregating the numerous delivery orders and many more, inResto takes care of and addresses every hurdle faced by a regular restaurant.

Adding delight to the dining out experience, Dineout stands as a solitary platform answering the requirements of an urban diner- searching restaurants, for F&B offers & payment options.              

Edited Excerpts

Ankit, thanks for your time from the suitcase of your busy schedule!!Take us back to that phone call with the Co-founder, Sahil Jain.

Having just returned back from a holiday in Delhi, I was sitting at my desk, at a top Investment Bank in London, staring at the Bloomberg screens and looking at countless charts and graphs. Looking back at my trip, I realized that every time I went out with my friends in Delhi, it was to the same places I had already been to previously and did not actually visit any new place.  Sharing this with Sahil, I figured this was due to a number of reasons, mainly; the lack of information about any new place which might have recently opened, reluctance of my friends to try a different place for the fear of being let down and probably the most important, lack of a truly unique, independent platform that offers all of this! Sahil also agreed with me as he had also faced similar problems during his trip to Delhi and I just blurted out, “why don’t we try to change this?” And thus, began the long and arduous journey!!!

An Investment Banker by profession, I had been living in London for the last 10 years and advancing very well professionally, having just received my CFA charter. Sahil, an IIM graduate, was well settled in Seattle, working on a project with Microsoft. And then one fine day, we both left our jobs and returned back to India and thus Dineout was born.

Dineout has attained a comprehensive exposure in the table reservation space. I am keen to know the secret ingredient behind Dineout’s success.

I really do not want to say that we are successful as the day we start believing that, we will get complacent and lose our focus. Though I believe that the most important key for a startup to succeed apart from the idea, is the team behind the idea. In our instance, 4 friends from a very diverse background came together and bought an idea to life. All 4 of us quit our highly successful jobs and made Dineout our passion. This passion and focus is the key ingredient according to me which will propel to new heights.

Throw some light over your cream of the crop,’The Great Indian Restaurant Festival’ organized by Dineout.

The Great Indian Restaurant Festival by Dineout is India’s first & the largest restaurant festival where customers can enjoy a flat 50% discount on Food, Alcohol, and Buffest across the best 2000+ restaurants in India. It’s the only festival in India that is organized to enable the restaurants to showcase their best dishes for their diners. From The Lalit to Social and to the quick service restaurants like Chaayos all got together to provide the best of the best to the diners. For one whole month, the diners sampled various cuisines at their favorite outlets and also discovered a lot of restaurants. This one of a kind Restaurant Festival provides a highly impactful and a high voltage 360-degree multimedia support that helps the players in the F&B industry get visibility.

Must say your ‘business menu’ is pretty diverse. Apart from bringing more happy clients on board, what are your plans for future?

Currently, we are present in 8 cities. These 8 cities have an ever increasing scope of getting the best restaurants on board. We will continue to capture the ever-expanding F&B landscape to help diners discover the best restaurants in their city. We also aim to increase our presence beyond these 8 cities to tier 2 cities as well. We have already on-boarded 100+ International restaurants on inResto. We have built inherent defensibility in the business with inResto, as once deployed within a restaurant, it is nearly impossible to replace as we are building stickiness into the product. In the coming years, we have planned to step up our game on the International expansion front through Channel partners, Direct leads and Restaurant Consultants.

How do you learn in your life and what is your biggest dream?

My Journey has been a journey of highs and lows. I have probably seen it all.

I look up to Richard Branson and have been following him closely since 2002, ever since I moved to London. Though launching a startup is no small task, working in a startup makes you feel like a “Superman”. It is a constant uphill battle but ultimately you do get used to it and the rush which you get is like no other. No task is too big to handle, no mountain too high to climb. Time flies and I feel that there aren’t enough hours in a day to do our work! However, the key to any successful venture, I realized very quickly, is not the venture but the people involved and over the last few years, we have built a strong team which makes it very exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time. Imagine this: everyone in the room talking to each other at the same time (and not very softly) and still managing to do their work perfectly!

Founder’s Periscope

Ankit Mehrotra

A startup and tech enthusiast with special interests in understanding customer behavior across the web and mobile, Ankit’s specialties amass E-commerce Strategy, scaling up a startup, understanding and interpreting online customer behavior, launching new product lines, and forging mutually beneficial Alliances across networks. Recognized with Young Entrepreneur of the year 2012 title at 6th Indira International Innovation Summit, Education UK Alumni Awards 2016 and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2016, Ankit’s cherry on the cake moment remains “The Pitch” season 3 on Bloomberg TV where he got positioned second amongst numerous interesting entrepreneurs.


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