Elevator Pitch: UrbanRestro.com is India’s first banquets marketplace, providing an end-to-end solution using a mix of online and offline enablers. Online includes a list of all banquets with their amenities to shortlist from, and then our offline team helps customers book their preferred venue at the best rates possible.
The banquet industry in India is at least a $6 billion industry, but there is no player in the market which provides an end-to-end solution in the banquet booking process. And with increasing Internet penetration, people are looking for more convenient solutions. Through UrbanRestro.com, we aim to marry technology with the offline process of banquet booking, making it much more convenient and efficient for the users.
While our focus is on banquet bookings, we also do online table reservation and offline events/workshops. This mesh of services helps us build stronger relationships with hoteliers, connect to users more often, and finally, become top-of-their-mind recall.
UrbanRestro.com is a one-stop portal in the food and banquet segment for corporate and individuals which provides:
- Banquet/party planning – Shortlisting and booking venue.
- Online table reservations – With deals/discounts in upscale restaurants and lounges.
- Unique experiences – Offline events/workshops at partner restaurants.
- Promotion – Of ongoing events/food festivals in restaurants/lounges.
After working for a couple of years in an IT company, I realized that this was not my true calling and, being hailed from a business family, I decided to follow my genes and start something of my own. So, I left my job to start a theme-based upscale restaurant. But while working on the business plan, I realized the need to acquire more skill sets before starting any venture, and therefore went for an executive MBA.
But as they say, everything has its own time. I waited for another two years before meeting the right people and the right idea. With an interest to create something in the upscale food and banquet segment, and with the increase in online users in India, I thought of creating a portal as a one stop solution for all needs in the food and banquet industry. This was the beginning of UrbanRestro.com.
I roped in my husband, who became our investor/advisor, and my cousin’s website development company—Dexter Consultancy from Ahmedabad. But before we could launch the website, the company got a setback. My friend (initial co-founder) opted out due to medical reasons, and couldn’t continue further. At this point in time, there were two paths available for me—to shelve the idea and get on with my job, or to take it on alone. I decided to take the latter path and get on with it, and there was no looking back.
We launched the website on 21st December 2012, with nine restaurants/lounges on board, and got our first booking on 24th December for four people. In the last nine months, we have come a long way. Today, we are present in three cities with 150+ banquets and more than 175 restaurants/lounges on board, which includes hotels like the Ambassador, Trident, Sofitel, Sun-n-Sand, Four Points; and restaurant groups like Mirah Hospitality and K Raheja Hospitality.
UrbanRestro uses a mix of online and offline marketing, which includes digital marketing, SEO, SEM, social media promotions, newsletters, blogs, corporate tie-ups, offline events/workshops at partner restaurants, and artifacts at partner restaurants.
We are actively looking at partnering with ancillary service providers (e.g.: cab booking, event management companies, et al.) to increase our bouquet of services for the users.
The banquet industry in India is more than $6 billion and it’s expected to grow at least eight-to-ten percent CAGR [Compound Annual Growth Rate]. For our segment, estimated market potential should be around $500 million from banquets and $250 million from restaurants from the top 20 cities (metros + tier one + tier two) in India.
Our market is also dependent on Internet penetration in the country, which is currently at 73.9 million users (30 percent growth year-over-year), the third largest in the world. And, it’s expected to cross 300 million users by 2015.
How We Differentiate From the Competition
Unlike competitors, UrbanRestro does not restrict itself to online services, which makes it very convenient for customers to take their offline load also, making it a complete service. Some of the major differentiators for us are:
- One stop portal, to create a synergy from the mesh of services.
- No portal focusing on restaurants, banquets and events.
- All these verticals complement each other to get more banquet business; restaurants gets more footfalls on the website; events acts as a marketing tool.
- Banquet planner provides an end-to-end solution.
- Target segment (corporate and upscale) equals quick decision maker and convenience-focused.
- Marketing pays for itself—restaurants and events.
- Technology: We are working on few tools in the banquet industry which would position us as a differentiator for the banquets.
UrbanRestro uses a good mix of online and offline services to provide an end-to-end solution. Offline services are enabled by technology to reduce manual efforts in the banquet-booking process, making it more efficient and convenient.
A typical customer using these services is on the lookout for more choices and convenience, and is willing to go to an upscale hotel/restaurant. Our main target segment is corporate and institutions who want places for conducting training/conferences, or hosting a cocktail event. We are a one-stop portal in the food and beverage segment catering to their requirements for booking a venue for training/conferences, restaurant reservations, and discounts for the employees, and conducting workshops/team events.
As of now, there is no marketing portal for banquets and also a banquet planner who could negotiate on the customer’s behalf. Also, the concept of online restaurant reservations is still at its nascent stage in India. In years to come it will have greater impact just like the online bus/train reservations system has spread in India.
Initially, our focus was only on building a restaurants base, getting enough hits on the website, and making it known to people. We have recently started generating revenue out of events and banquets, and advertising revenue also will soon start.
The company has overcome the initial hurdles and has formed a base from where we will be growing at a rapid pace.
We are looking at raising funds ($125,000) for expanding into other cities, upgrading technology and hiring talent which will take the company to the next level. We are also looking for enthusiastic people to join at a senior level to help us in our mission.
# # #
Founder: Shriti Chhajed
Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Year Founded: 2012
Investor: Harsh Baid