Bootstrapped Sloshout is a web platform that helps users find venues and packages for their parties and events.
At a glance
Founders: Kunal Makhija and Parth Chandok
Year it was founded: 2015
Where it is based: New Delhi - NCR
Problem it solves: E-marketplace for venues
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
If you happen to throw a party, you know the days leading up to the event are filled with frazzled calls to finalise a venue that will keep everyone happy. By the time the day rolls by, you have probably just relieved it will all be over in a few hours, and you can get back to your normal life.
Parties, though fun, are anything but for those planning them, which is why many resort to seeking outside help. And this is why Kunal Makhija and Parth Chandok started Sloshout in 2015.
Sloshout is a web-based platform that lets users find venues for their events, and helps book packages for their parties or events.
How did it start?
The idea dawned on the duo when they were working at Ernst & Young.
Kunal says, “As an added responsibility, we were expected to conduct team outings. It was then that we experienced the hassle of throwing together events: making online searches, calls, emails and the countless negotiations. It took us about 8-10 hours each time to find the perfect venue suited to our requirements.”
He explains users can either put filters on the Sloshout website to get desired results for a venue, or fill in a form online or tell them over a call. “You will receive an email within a couple of minutes with the best options available and our representative will always be there to help you choose the most appropriate venue,” explains Kunal.
Sloshout works such that registered venue partners only pay for the leads they are interested in. Each venue partner gets a mobile app, which gives them a dashboard of all the leads Sloshout is working on, and they can choose the leads as per their preference of date, time and requirements of the users. Users are not charged anything.
The services are available in Delhi-NCR, and nine other cities, including all the metros.
Too good to be true?
Talking about the challenges, Kunal explains, “Initially, when we started, it was very difficult for us to convince the venues to tie up with us and be on our platform as they were confusing us with the many companies that send customers on an a-la-carte basis by offering discounts. But instead, we sell their standard party packages and provide them with big groups. Also, it was difficult to convince users that we help them in every way, that too for free. They considered it too good to be true. We finally got some venues and some corporates and since then there is no looking back.”
Kunal and Parth, both in their mid-twenties, have over four years of professional experience in consulting. At Sloshout, Kunal handles the venue relations and operations, and Parth takes care of the marketing and customer relations.
Currently, Sloshout is a 12-member team, comprising employees handling backend data operations, customer relationship, content writing, social media and finance.
Bootstrapped, Sloshout ran initially on the founders’ savings. “Just after a couple of months, the startup became profitable and the business has been self-sustaining since then,” says Kunal.
It charges a marketing fee to its partnered venues on a quarterly or yearly basis. It has over 2,000 venues listed on the website. In a span of two years, Sloshout has helped 45,000 users plan over 1,600 parties, and has clocked a GMV of Rs 5 crore. Kunal says, “We receive around 1,200 event inquiries every month, leading to over 250 events a month.”
Differentiated business model
The events and activations industry in India is expected to cross the Rs 10,000-crore mark by 2020-21, as per an EY-EEMA (Event and Entertainment Management Association) report. The industry, which was at Rs 5,631 crore in 2016-17 overall, has been growing at a 16 percent CAGR.
The other players working in the space include Partykaro, Venuelook and Venuemonk.
Talking about its differentiator, Kunal says, “The main advantage that we have is our unique model, where we charge vendors only for the leads that they are interested in. Unlike our competitors, we do not charge our venue partners for all the leads on a monthly basis.”
Besides the business approach, other features too have made them stand apart, Kunal says. For instance, the transparency policy the startup follows, especially when listing prices on its website, something which, he notes, the others don’t do.
“A user can filter the results as per his budget, preferred location and deals, and can see the package rates for the deal required,” Kunal explains.
Apart from dealing with large groups, Sloshout also caters to small groups, offering them unlimited deal packages, something which they will not get if they approach the venue or restaurant on their own.
“We also provide complimentary services as a surprise sometimes to our users, including complimentary photographer, surprise package upgradations and loyalty programmes through vouchers and cashbacks,” Kunal says.
Sloshout is aiming to clock a GMV of Rs 19.5 crore in the next financial year.
Kunal says, “The nightlife industry in India is more than Rs 12,000 crore, growing at a CAGR of 20 percent, and we aim to seize the opportunity. We also plan to expand our services and multiply our revenue and profits significantly.”
Sloshout is also looking at the technical aspect of introducing machine learning in the services with an aim to reduce the operational and time costs and move towards automating the entire process for better customer service.