Online nightlife and restaurant guide TimesCity, part of Times Internet Limited (TIL), has acquired Delhi-based DineOut Services Pvt Ltd, the company behind the online restaurant reservation platform DineOut. With this acquisition, TimesCity will grow from being just a recommendation destination to a comprehensive fulfilment service for users.
TimesCity will onboard the entire DineOut team, which will be moving to the TimesCity and TIL facilities in Noida.
"DineOut executed on a tough-to-crack problem of connecting diners with available seats at great restaurants," said Miten Sampat, business head, TimesCity. "We can now empower the user to avail fulfilment service, wherein one can now simply book a table while exploring places to eat, and at the same time order food and find offers/deals. The integration made sense, as we can impact the entire flow of a user's dining experience," Sampat said.
DineOut was founded in February 2012 by school friends-turned-fellow entrepreneurs Vivek Kapoor, Ankit Mehrotra, Sahil Jain and Nikhil Bakshi. Jain is an IIM Kozhikode graduate, who was joined by Mehrotra, an investment banker who quit his job to start DineOut. Bakshi earlier worked with DSP BlackRock for five years, while Kapoor was a navigating officer with British Petroleum.
The firm has partnered with more than 450 restaurants and claims to be doing on an average 20,000 bookings per month (Mumbai and Delhi combined).
DineOut is currently present in Mumbai and Delhi. In an interaction in January this year, Kapoor had said that the firm was planning to expand its operations to Bangalore soon. It was also eyeing other cities such as Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad.
DineOut recently added a customised deals section to its platform—along the lines of Groupon deals—that enables users to pick from a number of customised packages offered by its partner restaurants. The firm also offers mobile apps on the Android and iOS platforms, and claims that they account for almost 30 per cent of the total page traffic.
In October 2012, DineOut had raised Rs 60 lakh from Ankush Nijhawan and Gaurav Bhatnagar, the founders of Travel Boutique Online.
Based on the popular Times Food Guide and Times Nightlife Guide, TimesCity is a guide on food, nightlife, movies and event options. It features reviews and ratings from a panel of food critics and foodies, latest movie trailers, reviews and theatre listings. It is currently available in 11 cities—Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Ahmadabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Goa. The firm has over 47,000 restaurants listed and two million unique visitors in a month.
In September last year, TimesCity had partnered with digital marketing startup Mobikon for real-time table reservations for its customers on the site. A month earlier, it had acquired location-based restaurant recommendation app Gawbl for an undisclosed amount.
A number of players like Zomato.com, TableGrabber.com, PoshVine.com and Tablewalla.com are operating in the online restaurant listing or reservation space in the country. Sequoia- and Info Edge-backed Zomato is one of the fast-growing restaurant listing and review sites in India and has already expanded into a number of foreign markets, including the UK, the UAE, South Africa, New Zealand, the Philippines, Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Qatar.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)