The food tech industry is going through a rough patch. You might have heard about the layoffs in TinyOwl and Zomato. Despite these issues, the food tech industry has a great potential to grow and make sustainable business in India. After all, people love to dine out, party, and order delicious food home. There’s no doubt about the fact that we Indians love a lot of discounts.
No one can stop entrepreneurs from innovating and coming up with new solutions for restaurants and foodies. Zomato has done a considerable job in getting these businesses online, but still a lot needs to be done. There is a huge market potential for new companies to take a pie of this hugely untapped market.
In our country, the dining out culture is slowly catching up. Today, the average Indian living in a city dines out approximately three to four times a month and spends an average of Rs. 1,500–2,500 for two people. Don’t forget that there are additional charges, such as VAT, service tax, and service charge, of up to 30 per cent on the bill.
It becomes imperative for people to look for discounts to make their dining experiences affordable.
But deal hunting is a very tedious task when you have to spend hours in searching for coupons. In most of the cases, coupons are either expired or have a limited time to redeem. There is always a question of coupon reliability and you may end up embarrassing yourself in the restaurant. Table reservation and deal sites like Eazydiner and Dineout have better coupon comparison, but they also offer fixed discounts.
In the crowded space of food tech companies, a little star is rising with the name of Pocketin, which is a real-time bargaining app for restaurant discounts. This can help a user get live quotes from multiple restaurants within seconds and book the table in a very quick and user-friendly manner.
Anirudh describes how they began the idea of Pocketin. “We used to dine out very frequently while in college. And being students with limited pocket money, we were always looking out for deals and offers. But no platform offered us the flexibility to choose our own time and day, and most of the times, we had problems convincing the manager that the coupon was legitimate. We knew a lot of managers, so we would often call up and get special bargains. But then bargaining with five restaurants would mean calling up individually and starting the conversation from scratch.”
To solve this problem, they built a platform to automate the whole negotiation process and get deals from restaurant owners/managers based on the budget and time of the user.
Anirudh said, “Now the problem of calling up multiple restaurants is eliminated. You can negotiate with a hundred restaurants through Pocketin app.”
Pocketin offers dynamic discounts, which means if you are visiting during a non-peak hour you may be rewarded with big discount as compared to hours.
What’s more? You can bid for more discount from a restaurant and the Pocketin team will try to get that approved. They give 100% guarantee of discounts, and you do not need any vouchers or codes. Just walk into the restaurant, your server will know about you and your negotiated discount before hand and your table will be reserved.
Pocketin is founded by three young engineers who just graduated this year. The Indian startup ecosystem is shining with student entrepreneurs participation.
Anirudh is a graduate of Thapar University, while Kshitij and Rahul graduated from Delhi University. Some might question the knowledge and experience of entrepreneurs coming fresh out of college, Pocketin’s founders think otherwise.
Kshitij says, “The kind of energy and enthusiasm we college graduates have is unparalleled. The kind of risks we can take without any inhibitions and the drive to work with the bottoms up approach comes only when one is a fresher.”
And as they say, there is no right time to start up. The founders knew that this was their calling. They had been working closely with a lot of restaurant owners on different projects in college, and they knew what the pain-points were for both the users and the merchant. Thus, they gave away their lucrative job offers to devote full time on Pocketin. Rahul was working with Amazon and Anirudh left an offer at Practo.
After toiling hard for three months after the launch, they are finally getting a good response from the users and restaurants alike. Downloads on the Android Play Store are close to 5,000, and they have added more than 100 restaurants on the platform.
Pocketin has processed over 550 transactions in the last 90 days with a GMV of more than 12 lakh. It is banking on that section of middle class in India which dines out an average of four times a month. As frequent as that may seem, the number lags behind the average in countries like Singapore and Hong Kong where the average is 35.
Pocketin started initially with capital pooled in from friends and family and is on the verge of closing its first external round this month. With fresh capital being infused into the startup, in the coming 12 months, they hope to process around two lakh transactions in three cities with a GMV of Rs 42 crore.