The zeal for organising social events sometimes gets faded in search of finding a proper venue that can meet both price and quality expectations. Delhi-based Ruchi Garg had faced similar challenges while conducting multiple weddings and birthday parties for her family. This got her attracted towards organising this space. Hence she started VenueLook, a venue discovery and booking platform, along with her friend Sovit Upadhyay in 2014.
“I spent two months looking at venues and talking to a group of consumers to validate the idea and iterate it further with my initial trusted advisors to sharpen the right product/ service to launch,” recalls Ruchi, a B.Tech from Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram University of Science and Technology, Murthal, who brings more than 15 years of experience in the technology and marketing space.
Noida-based VenueLook was initially bootstrapped for the first three to four months. Then, Ruchi raised $200,000 from friends and family for expansion. Initially, they faced challenges in terms of hiring startup ready professionals and convince event planners and vendors that they can deliver end-to-end venue discovery-to-booking experience.
VenueLook allows its users to discover, shortlist, compare and book perfect venue as per their preferences – occasion, venue type, budget, number of guests and location. The venues can be booked for wedding-related functions, birthday parties, farewells, anniversaries, cocktail dinner parties and corporate events.
Depending on the kind of enquiry (direct, cart, open-ended), its algorithms predict the expected customer experience and tailor the communications across the event host and venues. Discovery of the options is driven by customer choice parameters to determine the right fit, facilitating the best proposals and relevant information from the venues as required.
VenueLook currently has around 4,000 venue listings on its platform. It comprises five star properties, four star hotel chains, farm houses, resorts, restaurants and banquet halls across Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Pune, Jaipur, and Hyderabad.
The startup allows only valid venues to get listed. It continuously monitors and checks customer experience and ratings to ensure the delivery of a quality experience. It has also delisted a few venues that failed to meet the customer experience.
Apart from venues, VenueLook also provides customised, theme event planning packages in Delhi-NCR. Since inception, the company has served more than 30,000 customers.
VenueLook has ensured that its customers are served within a minute of posting an inquiry with best matching options as per their event requirements. Its dedicated customer service professionals and tech-interface guide the customers through their entire venue booking journey providing them with relevant and critical inputs and aiding them with crucial budget negotiations,” says Ruchi.
VenueLook charges its venue partners an annual marketing fees and compensation. It varies from venue to venue, depending on their city, locality, capacity and the kind of promotional package they choose. The startup is growing at 20 percent month-on-month.
Currently, VenueLook has 20 members including strong advisory network/investors Rahul Garg (former Google employee), Ashish Kumar (CEO, Kelton Tech), Kaushal Bhalotia (Head of Marketing, Zalora), and Jamshed Ranjan (Chief Product Officer, Nimbuzz).
VenueLook servers are hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and its back-end is built on PHP.
We have an in-house design and development team to keep up with the speed of iterating the product and infusing more intelligence in the three prime engines (built in-house) – matching algorithm, lead management system and sales management CRM. We follow agile methodology and are a data-driven company. We also have android mobile apps for venue owners and venue seekers,” says Ruchi.
India’s events market is estimated to be $50 billion, where venue and F&B account for 40 percent, which is extremely fragmented. Thinking that organising venues for events will be a huge market opportunity, players like MegaVenues.com, BookEventZ, Weddingz, Eventila, MeraEvents, Venuepick, BigFday have entered into this space.
BookEventZ last year raised an undisclosed amount from Mumbai angles and others, whereas Weddingz scooped up $1 million from angle investors including Google India’s MD Rajan Anandan. While the space has also witnessed collaboration with Venuepick partnered with online platform for budget hotels, OYO Rooms.
In the next two years, VenueLook will expand its presence in Hyderabad, Jaipur, Chennai and Tier II cities. The company is targeting three lakh users per month leading to 15,000 event inquiries and 750 bookings. In terms of revenue, it aims to reach $4 million in the next fiscal year.