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Urban Restro is a multi-headed, ecommerce hydra that is simultaneously attacking India’s restaurant reservation, banquet booking, event management and deals markets.
It’s a bold play by the Mumbai-based startup. The segments seem somewhat disparate at first, but Urban Restro’s parent company, Urban Online Services has weaved an intriguing mesh which looks set to fill gaps in India’s hospitality industry.
Market research by Urban Restro’s founder and MD, Shriti Chhajed shows that there are over 200 up-scale restaurants in the city with an average occupancy rate of around 40% ranging from 10% to 20% during off-peak hours to 80% to 90% during peak hours. Following cues from the hotel and airline industries which, despite high fixed costs, manage to fill flights and rooms, Chhajed set out increase occupancy rates for restaurants. Urban Restro launched at the end of 2012 to allow patrons to book discount reservations from restaurants that wish to increase patron traffic during off-peak hours.
The decision to add a banquet marketing platform to Urban Restro came when Chhajed found corporate banquet booking services to be a large and lucrative, yet underserved hospitality segment. Subsequently bolting on an events management aspect linked everything together: restaurants can advertise events or workshops, and corporates can book both the venue — a banquet hall or restaurant — and manage parties in one place. To attract corporates, Urban Restro’s focus on more upmarket restaurants make sense.
Urban Restro is monetised in three ways. Restaurants pay an advertising or promotion fee, banquets pay a per annum listing or a per lead conversion fee, and events can be punted for a marketing fee. The startup received seed funding of 1.5 million rupees (± USD$25 000) from investor and Urban Restro shareholder Harsh Baid. A third shareholder, Dexter Consultancy acts as the startup’s technology partner.
With a sound business model, unique proposition and a successful funding round, Urban Restro is well positioned, and yet it embodies a classic all-in-one startup dichotomy.
It has no direct competitors, but it does face competition from startups that specialise in each aspect of its offering. For example, in terms of restaurant reservations, Urban Restro competes with bookurtable.com, eveningflavours.com, tablegrabber.com, dineout.co.in and tablewala.com. For deals, it faces competition from startups like snapdeal.com, timesdeal.com and groupon.co.in. Justdial.com and asklaila.com offer banquet bookings, poshvine.com lists customised workshops and events, and burrp.com, zomato.com, eveningflavours.com and dineout.co.in offer event promotion.
In order to stand out, Urban Restro either has to be exemplary at everything — or at least good enough to appease users looking for an all-in-one solution — or, conjure synergy from its mesh of services. Encouragingly, Chhajed who holds an MBA from SP Jain Singapore-Dubai, seems to be shooting for the latter objective.
Chhajed tells Ventureburn that Urban Restro will be creating unique experiences through its own planned events, shortly before expanding presence internationally by the second half of 2014.