There are just so many things to learn and do in life, aren't there? And perhaps, all this time, there was a master teaching these skills just a stone's throw away from your home. That is why Oyeweekend is out on a zealous mission to locate these masters and package their services for you.A platform for participatory leisure activities and interests such as dance and cooking classes, adventure sports, photography workshops and a host of other niche options, this Mumbai based startup strives to enable people pursue their interests in life and to facilitate them in doing what really excites them in their spare time.
Between the prevalent extremes of exotic holiday destinations and passive in-city entertainment like movies and wine-and-dine, Oyeweekend feels there lies a subdued need for participatory leisure activities and interests. “And it would be fair to say that there is not one online destination that packages and offers them in a satisfactory manner. We plan to tap and package such activities and interests and present it to the casual audience, both as a form of recreation as well as a means to personal enrichment,” says Co-Founder, Pinaki Panda.
Having begun with the ‘usual suspects’ for activities – dancing, cooking, adventure sports and some assorted niche activities like pottery, calligraphy, rifle shooting, glass-painting and so on, their vision is to provide a plethora of many other exciting options with convenience – in terms of location, schedules, price and credibility of providers/vendors with regard to their quality of service.
Typical Customer and Expansion Plans
OyeWeekend is targeting all creative, leisure and recreation activities and interests that in some form require the consumer’s participation. “To keep it simple, we decided to settle on a target segment that we could best empathize with – working professionals like us who have a desire, even a latent one, to do something worthwhile with their spare time. We therefore make it a point to encourage all of our consumers to submit feedback that will go a long way in helping other people make up their minds about an activity.”
For now, they have two kinds of revenue arrangements – commission for bookings and fees for lead generation.
Currently, they are discovering and on-loading vendors and their activities themselves. There are vendors who are established brands in their respective fields and do not require verification. New and niche vendors they verify by visiting them. They aim to update the data as frequently as possible and are working to make this vendor-driven.
“There are no less than 6-7 players with various kinds of overlaps with us. But we are all new and from here, it is anybody’s market. Anyway, we feel that the presence of competitors brings validity to the market and keeps us motivated to work harder. What we have built till now is a base version of what we dream of achieving,” Pinaki adds.
Oyeweekend aims to create an ecosystem with consumers, service providers and going ahead, venue providers (galleries, studios etc.) as the key participants in this eco-system. Their plan is to approach this with a three-fold strategy, i.e., making their platform data and options rich by bringing on a sizeable number of service providers onboard, facilitating communication and coordination between vendors and consumers, and providing behavioral reinforcements/boosters to their consumers for amplifying interests and encouraging attendance. In the long run, they aim to be a one-stop shop for all leisure activities and interests for their target consumers.
Their Minimum Viable Product went live in January, this year. And they have been experimenting, measuring and iterating for some time now. They are self-funded as of now, and are looking for funding. The team constitutes the three founders Jagadish- an MBA from IIFT Kolkata, Kunal- a post graduate from IIM Kozhikode, and Pinaki, a second time entrepreneur and a graduate from IIT Madras and IIM Kozhikode.
The business idea struck them after a white-water rafting trip to the Kundalika, near Mumbai. They observed that the entire process – from discovery of such weekend options to booking could really do with some improvement. But adventure sports alone would be too small a market; was there anything else that could be behaviorally grouped with adventure sports?
And then they reasoned why not club adventure sports with the largely unattended market of leisure activities and interests? They believed this was a market that was wide open, probably because it was painfully fragmented. Also, all of them in the founding team were inclined towards creative fields and hence, this market was close to their hearts. These factors made them want to try and bring about some change, though it wasn’t easy given the mindsets of people to try and trust recreational activities on an online portal. Oyeweekend faced a couple of challenges in this space.
“Unlike a movie or dining out, many users are likely to experience an activity for the first time and hence are unable to yardstick it with anything previously undertaken. It is only natural for them to reserve some skepticism regarding how rewarding that activity would really be. Also, we have users who are really passionate about their coveted activities, but we are also seeing a benefit-effort mismatch for ones who impulsively indicate their interest in an activity but later withdraw.
More so, an ‘event’ in our context is a very low-key affair with participation as low as 12-15 attendees being considered a stampede. Vendors cannot afford to spend big bucks or indulge in conventional marketing techniques. While in niche offerings, the challenge is that demand comes spaced out in time with various degrees of flexibility from a consumer’s point of view regarding their preferred dates. We, at OyeWeekend, are in the process of developing a mechanism that addresses both of the points above,” Pinaki concludes.