Anirudh Mondal talks about his startup Pocketin, a Hot 100: Race to Grace winner, that provides unique restaurant deals within 5 mins. By Pooja Paryani
One doesn’t know quite what to make of the food tech space in India. Ever so often there are reports of layoffs and startups that were once big hits going through an extended rough patch. So one can’t help but wonder when we hear of another food tech app, Pocketin. But the intriguing thing is the startup isn’t focussed on food ordering and delivery. It taps into the compulsive Indian need for a good bargain and brings it into the food space.
Pocketin is a real-time bargain app (Android) that helps you compare a la carte deals and discounts from over three restaurants within five minutes. At the moment focussed on Gurgaon, Noida and Delhi, the app also books a table once you’ve made your selection, and payment for packages/combo deals and buffet deals can be made on the app itself. Five friends, Anirudh Mondal, Kshitij Mehra, Rahul Arora, Abhishek Mishra, and Kushagra Gahlaut, started the app in June 2015. All five are recent graduates with BTech degrees, who are raring to make their mark in the field.
“We are big foodies and we look for discounts in the restaurants we visit,” says Anirudh. “But we always got static discounts no matter on how much we would spend. So we thought of this idea that would help other foodies as well. This also helps restaurants get more traction.”
How it works
“Through the Pocketin app, restaurants offer deals/discounts to diners that are customised on the basis of the number of guests and the time they are planning to dine in,” says Anirudh. “The app also helps users book a table in advance, and if there are no tables available, they’re given other options in the area. Pocketin operates from 12 pm to 11 pm, and covers restaurants, clubs and pubs that have price range of Rs 800 to Rs 3,500 per head.”
“Users login from the app, type in their requirements and location and bid for discounts. Restaurants get notified about the same on their phones and it is upon them to either accept the bid or offer other discounts. Soon after, users get a list of restaurants with their offers, all they have to do is a select what works for them. The app then books a table for them in five minutes. Bookings have to be done at least 15 to 20 minutes before arrival. We have a dedicated call centre that checks for availability and informs users accordingly. The app is available for free and there are no user registration charges.”
Dealing with competition
“Yes, we do face competition from the likes of Dineout, EazyDiner, HungerMafia, Groupon and CouponDunia,” says Anirudh. “But we are unique in terms of customised offers. Through our unique model, one can be rest assured of getting the best possible price for any booking they make through us. We also provide table booking services, plus information on club rules (number of stags allowed, etc). We keep a tab on discounts offered at restaurants via our autopilot technology, and use it to check on table availability. We only take one to one-and-a-half minutes to inform a user if a table is available or not. When we promise five minutes for a booking we actually do that; once the user puts in the data, we give the restaurants four minutes to reply and one minute is kept for confirming table availability. We have received a positive response from users for our services and this encourages us to work even more efficiently.”
“We take a commission of around 5 to 7 per cent from restaurants on a per diner basis. Users can be given discounts on food items or the complete bill, but we do not charge the users. In terms of transactions, we have seated more than 30,000 diners till date, and are doing an average of around 6,000 diners per month for the last three months. We are growing at a rate of 30 per cent month-on-month for the last three months. For FY 2015 – 2016, we made close to Rs 3 lakh in revenue as we were operational for only eight months.”
The way ahead
“We’ve started a blog on the app that gives information on restaurants, bars, clubs, new trends, interviews with restaurant owners and everything related to lifestyle, food and restaurants,” says Anirudh. “We are planning to expand our reach to other dimensions like gyms, salons and spas as well. There are also plans to serve in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, and slowly grow pan-India. We currently have 15-20,000 downloads, but will grow to 50,000 by the end of 2016. There are 400 restaurants who’ve tied up with us so far and we’re looking at increasing that to 700 by the end of this year. We’re also soon going to launch the app on the iOS platform.”