To turn good food into great experiences, a posse of friends came up with the innovative idea of online table reservation platform. Thus Dineout was formed in 2012 to revive the idea of eating out.

Attempting to provide solutions to both restaurateurs and diners alike, the platform currently operates across nine cities in India. By renovating digital intervention in the F&B industry, the start-up has been successful in uplifting the overall experience of dining.

Ankit Mehrotra, one of the young entrepreneurs whose brainchild is Dineout, gave us a further glimpse into this creative platform. Excerpts:

Q. How did you come up with the idea of Dineout?

Based out of Delhi, the inception story of Dineout is quite unique. An opportunity in the clutter of restaurant queues was sensed by a posse of friends — Ankit Mehrotra, Vivek Kapoor, Nikhil Bakshi and Sahil Jain who joined hands in 2012 with a vision to turn their idea into a reality.

Soon, the team quit their highly successful jobs and incepted Dineout – their brainchild. Since then, there has been no looking back. Amidst the rise and fall, the online booking platform has just scaled up rapidly.

Dineout raised a round of angel investment in late 2012 and in April 2014, was acquired by Times Internet Limited. In August 2015, it made its product portfolio even more robust by acquiring a Bangalore based startup in Resto.

Q. What challenges did you face in the beginning while setting up the company?

Dineout pioneered table reservation in India. Starting a table reservation culture had its own challenges. The consumers weren’t as savvy with the online world as they are now and nobody would look at reserving tables online in India. The biggest bump was to change the behaviour of people. We believe it is slowly and steadily getting better. The smarter diners are embracing our service, be it over app, website or concierge service.

Earlier, popular restaurants didn’t sense the need for such service, as they already had many patrons. On the other hand, newer restaurants felt that they wanted to explore the solution only when they became financially strong. However, we continuously invested time and effort in enabling the restaurants to be more agile, consumer-focused and experiential.

When we started, we strongly felt that the culture of doing things online would soon catch up in India. There already was a dining-out culture, and we were quite certain that before long people would start booking tables online too. It was a Herculean task but we are happy we took it on. The company’s ambition has always been to deliver the best experience possible to the diner.

Q. How does this platform work?

We are currently seating across nine cities in the country. On Dineout, one can discover the best restaurants in their city, save time and hassle by reserving a table in advance, enjoy the best in- the industry food and beverage offers as well as earn cash back on every restaurant bill payment via integrated payment option — Dineout Pay.

Customers can also expect discounts for booking and for paying through the app. In addition, diners receive in-app earnings that can be used for subsequent payments. In all, users can save up to 50 per cent on every single bill, every time they eat out.

Another offering called Dineout Plus is a premium corporate membership programme which provides flat 25 per cent off the total bill at top five star hotels in six cities.

Q. Who are the brand’s target customers?

We are a one-stop solution for any diner who is looking to go out and have a good experience. As a product, we believe we have got a very strong proposition, which not only helps the customers dine out but also helps restaurants grow their businesses in the way they want to. Our technology solutions would be put in restaurants in such a way, to completely automate and personalise the dining experience at the restaurant.

These days’ consumers are not just satisfied with good food and service but look forward to an experience while eating out and we endeavour to act as a bridge to connect such discerning customers with experiential restaurants.

Q. What exclusive can the customers expect from Dineout?

Dineout solves an important problem in the user lifecycle journey. It helps to discover destination for a customer looking to eat out. We provide our diners with a lot of options to choose from fine dining to cafes and to QSRs, offering best possible deals. With us, we assure that, one can easily find his/her favourite restaurants, make reservations conveniently and avail fantastic offers, all by a click of a button!

Q. What are your future plans with the brand?

The journey for Dineout has just begun and we have a long way to go. Our immediate goal is to expand to other cities, introduce new product lines and completely redefine the whole dining out experience. We want to build it into a global brand.

Q. How do you synchronise a huge number of restaurateurs and diners?

We are putting a lot of time, effort and resources into reaching out to the vast network of restaurants and consulting them as growth partners. We draw data that enables a business owner to take a more informed decision. We use a balanced approach to draw insights keeping in mind customers’ interests and the restaurants’ growth.