Are you a Foodie? Startup Wowdining has something exciting for you!

By Team YS|11th Nov 2011
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WOW

Discount is no more a taboo word for restaurants. They have realised they attract more customers thereby helping their business grow.  As for consumers, who does not get lured by a fat discount on the food bill? This is when Noida-based entrepreneur Nitin Agarwal steps in. His startup Wowdining is a boon for all those foodies out there. The venture enables people, who love fine dining and visiting upscale restaurants regularly, buy Wowdining cards that offer them discounts and other privileges at food joints all throughout the year.

A graduate from IIT-Roorkee, Nitin Agarwal founded and self-funded Promoworks Media Pvt Ltd in 2008, after having worked with Talisma Corp, Adobe Systems and a startup. He once conducted a market survey among 20,000 people in Noida and Delhi to understand their dining out patterns and whether such a business idea would appeal to them. And it did! This motivated him to expand to the entire National Capital Region with his product and in January 2010 he launched the Wowdining card.

Now, what is a Wowdining card exactly? Presenting to you, at Rs 1500, with one year validity, no hidden conditions or fine prints, the Wowdining privilege card, which easy to use and brings premium value to your entire dining experience. With this card, a person gets best offers and discounts (e.g. Buy 1 Get 1 Free offers) at restaurants throughout the year. Consumers can visit restaurants without any limit on usage or visits and can avail even better offers when they visit these food places in groups for parties. Through Wowdining, Nitin wants to enable people to visit more restaurants without worrying about the bills!

So how does one avail these services? Simple. Order your Wowdining card online from their website and get it home-delivered. The product package comes with a Wowdining card, which has one year validity, the directory of restaurants and a welcome letter. Wowdining delivers the card to individuals, who buy it online or otherwise uses their channels partner to distribute the product to the customer. An executive delivers it and the cash on delivery option for payment is also available. In all, they have four models for selling their card - direct sales through the website including the cash on delivery option; channel sales through channel partners; corporate accounts for internal and external marketing product; and they also sell co-branded cards to large customers.

When a person gets his card, he has to register the card by sending an SMS with which they ensure that the customers get regular updates on new restaurants and offers available.

But then again, who wants to shell out money at a high-end restaurant every weekend anyway? “Why wouldn’t you rope in some fast-food joints, too?” I ask. “You are likely to save more when you eat more!” says Wowdining founder Nitin. “Casual dining’s volume of business and operating margin is less, so it’s difficult to offer discounts to customers.” He adds further, “Also, a customer won’t bother much about discounts at such places because the cost is already low. On the other hand, fine dining restaurants have marketing budgets to increase the sales. By listing with us they will get guaranteed number of customers without any out-of -pocket cost.”

Nitin is a self-proclaimed foodie and with so many fine dining restaurants coming up in India, he felt that customers should be rewarded for their loyalty to the restaurants they visit often. Also, as restaurants need to build on a loyal customer base, he thought on building a business solely focussing on fine dining and the discounts it can offer.

Like every startup has its own challenges, Wowdining had a few too. Earlier on, it was difficult for Nitin to convince restaurants to come on board as he did not have many customers. Selling his product to end users was a tough task too has he did not have a large number of fine dining restaurants to boast of. But, rising above all these challenges, today, Nitin has corporate clients in IT, banking, real estate, pharma, media, insurance and many more sectors. Hiring skilled people also has been a challenge for Nitin and he is still looking at hiring people in various departments like technology, sales and marketing. Currently, they are a dedicated team of 20 people along with their value added channel sales partner.

Focusing on the NCR region, today, Wowdining has close to 110 restaurants listed and has 15,000 subscriptions in just one year. Nitin is planning to launch this product soon in other metros under the light of one card. In the first phase of expansion, Wowdining plans to scale in Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. They also plan to expand to other state capitals and B-Tier cities in phase-2. Nitin wants Wowdining to become India’s No. 1 dining card company with a presence in 30 cities in next five years and have five million happy customers onboard, for which he is in talks with a few VC firms for funding.

A lesser known fact is that Nitin first started off with the coupon option. So what made him rethink his decision? “We value our costumer and we value our relationship with restaurants. So, it only made sense that we sustain this relationship by bringing in the option of unlimited visits.” He adds, “There were certain issues with the coupons option. People were not very comfortable with giving coupons every time they ordered something at a fine dining restaurant. Also, many a time, they forgot to bring the coupon and then missed out on the offer. We gathered this feedback, made changes accordingly and launched a card instead. Moreover, people are comfortable while using a card and can carry it easily in their wallet or purse.”

There are a few similar players in the market but Wowdining is different as it focuses only on discounts at fine dining restaurants. “A one-time deal hungry customer might prefer other sites where they offer discounts daily, but a customer who dines at a few restaurants regularly will definitely prefer a Wowdining card,” says Nitin.

Abhilasha Dafria

Go to www.wowdining.com for further details!

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