Some beautiful connections break the barriers and make the history. You never know who writes a new success story in the cosmos of startup. Who knew that such a powerful bonding will turn these life partners into business partners, yes I am talking about a great startup WowTables. Let’s dig deep into their story.
The brainchild of husband-wife duo, Kunal Jain & Deepa Jain. Their eternal love for dining out in some of Mumbai’s best restaurants made them realize that even though fine dining was taking off in the city, it lacked the exposure and people lacked the awareness about so many good quality restaurants in the city due to the plethora of options.
It was a burgeoning market in 2012 but at the same time was untapped as well. Kunal and Deepa used this as an opportunity to connect exemplary restaurants with discerning diners all over the city, hence giving them something new to look forward to all the time.
At the same time, they felt the need to curate exclusive dining experiences at restaurants to capture the attention of diners with respect to three things that would stand out from regular ala carte reservations
- Curating a menu and pairing food & wine based on customer preferences.
- Providing variety to customers through multi-course set menus
- Doing all of this at prices that were value for money
Back in 2012, GourmetItUp’s founders Deepa Jain & Kunal Jain loved going out to eat at new restaurants and trying out new dishes but didn’t get to experiment as much as they would like because of the risk of a going to a bad restaurant or ordering a bad dish.
After speaking about this with other diners they realized this was a universal problem because eating out was getting too expensive and there wasn’t a single source that could guide diners to where and what they should be eating to reduce the risk associated with a bad fine dining meal.
Deepa & Kunal conceptualized GourmetItUp to allow diners to get access to menus with researched & curated dishes to bring out restaurants best, individual/tasting portions so that there was no compromise and special pricing (with a minimum guarantee for restaurants to ensure great service).
After speaking to restaurants they realized that this model would solve a lot of the marketing and table utilization issues plaguing the restaurant industry and so launched the business.
Deepa has an MSC in Human Resources from Villanova University. She also has a culinary degree from Dadar Catering College while Kunal has a BSC in Computer Science from Northwestern University.
Deepa Jain, co-founder at WowTables is a food connoisseur and founder of RecipeMobile – a food brand that supplied gourmet food items to restaurants and directly to customers. She brings an in-depth understanding of the restaurant business as well as an extensive network amongst top restaurants, food celebrities & journalists.
Kunal Jain, co-founder and Managing Director at WowTables is an entrepreneur and digital marketer with about 10 years of experience. He is an expert in building and marketing consumer websites and was co-founder at Indianhanger.com, a prominent apparel and accessories e-commerce website representing top Indian fashion designers and selling to a global audience.
WowTables specializes in curating set menu dining experiences to discerning diners. While WowTables facilitates online table reservations on its web & mobile platform (available on both Android & iOS), the brand focuses on showcasing exclusive multi-course dining experiences at some of the best restaurants in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore & Pune.
WowTables, formerly known as GourmetItUp was founded in 2012 by Kunal Jain & Deepa Jain to disrupt the dining space by enabling diners to live a better life through their culinary choices & experiences
WowTables has partnered with more than 300 of the finest restaurants & bars across 4 cities to give customers unique & personalized luxury experiences , one WowTable at a time . The experiences comprise curated multi-course tasting menus, alcohol & wine paired experiences, food shops, celebrity based masterclasses & restaurant/bar launches amongst others.
WowTables raised $300,000 funding from Angel investors in October 2014 and raised another round in December 2015. The funds were used to expand into other cities such as Delhi, Pune & Bangalore, to strengthen the team and on marketing costs
Deepa has extensive experience in the food industry and used her insights to formulate a business strategy. Kunal is also a passionate dinner and is quite aware of latest trends in the food industry. They conducted an extensive market research that encompassed a network of industry experts, diners, restaurants & more
Referral marketing and online paid advertising turned out to be very beneficial in terms of acquiring new consumers. The fact that WowTables(formerly known as GourmetItUp) was a unique concept and had first mover advantage in the dining experience segment created a great impact and recall for customers, restaurants, and industry experts. Since restaurants were represented in a very elegant and sophisticated light, they played a pivotal role in terms of conversions as well.
Work with frontrunner restaurants to establish a strong position in new cities, have exciting events to generate word of mouth and a targeted early adopter audience, ensure customer delight to grow organically through referrals and a robust loyalty program. The focus is on strategic partnerships with relevant brands that have a customer base that will have the intent to dine out in plush restaurants and enjoy memorable dining experiences.
WowTables is a part of the F&B tech industry. The industry is extremely competitive but at the same time extremely exciting as well with customers dining out far more than before, more restaurants/pubs opening up and the fact that brands are becoming extremely innovative in the space to cater to the multiple kinds of diners.
The customer mindset has also changed. They have become extremely discerning and particular and hence have been open to using technology and online platforms to find something that suits their needs the best.
This industry is filled with platforms that aggregate & list restaurants, that facilitate online reservations and that offer home delivery to customers.
WowTables is different in the sense that they curate dining/drinking experiences for customers which could range from curating a 4-course set menu dining experience at an acclaimed restaurant to hosting an event such as Oktoberfest or hosting a wine & cheese tasting session at a plush resto bar.
At the end of the day, it is about enabling diners to have a great time by creating an environment that will surprise, delight & intrigue them through the culinary choices they make with them
“Our strong brand positioning and focus on quality over quantity make us the forerunner. We are willing to work at a much deeper level with both restaurants and customers than most players in this industry and everyone who works with us and uses our services realizes the difference this makes” says Deepa Jain.
She further adds “We are very selective about the restaurants that we partner with, take great care to create unique, well balanced yet experimental dining experience at every restaurant and take our customer service and feedback very seriously”.
Initially, restaurants were skeptical and apprehensive of such a model working well but it was just a matter of time before they were convinced by the concept based on the number of footfalls and the way they were being perceived by customers courtesy the way they were represented on WowTables.
Establishing trust is the key to being successful in the space. This holds true for both their restaurant partnerships which are very relationship driven as well as with consumers who need a strong reason to change their dining habits. Being a trustworthy brand both takes time and is a constant effort as its very easy to disappoint customers.
On the restaurant end, they’ve had to work hard to establish our positioning to ensure they resonate with the top dining destinations in the country and to ensure that they send them customers that they can actually expect to come back.
With diners, they are constantly evolving to add more value to their experience and to keep them coming back for more.
Since inception, they have had 20,000 reservations and have generated 7 crores as GMV (Gross Merchandise Value). Their current turnover is Rs.60 lakhs (INR), which they receive as commissions from our restaurant partners. The commissions are postpaid.
They launched their app in June 2015 and they have around 25,000 downloads as of now. They have a clear model of generating revenue, they work on a commission model with the restaurants they partner with.
They are working on both a domestic as well as international expansion plan. they already have the best restaurants on board and a strong marketing effort is underway to reach out to more consumers.
Life partners turned into business partners, this is such a beautiful tale. WowTables has it easier for people to select the best restaurant, of course, you should get something valuable in exchange for money, you can’t waste your money on any restaurant without knowing about their food.
There is promising future for WowTables because they are so determined and further on have plans to expand internationally.