Queues at fast food joints and the wait for service at restaurants can be quite annoying. For Amrish Patel and Smit Nebhwani, it was too much to handle. “Not just the wait for the food, even getting the menu, especially during the rush hours can be a tricky business. And then, often the service staff is not well-trained to explain the menu choices,” says 28-year-old Nebhwani.
The duo decided to change the way the food services industry operated and make things easier for patrons as well as restaurants. In September 2015, they founded food-tech company, Voolsy, and it started operations in February 2016. The startup’s eponymous app helps cut down the waiting time for customers, allows them to learn about the dishes on offer, rate them, see how they have been rated by others, make payments, and offers a host of other features.
“Overall, our application helps create a much better dining experience,” says Nebhwani, Co-founder and CEO. Voolsy is powered by iBeacons, a wireless technology that helps provide location based information. “We found that iBeacons can be applied not only to cut down waiting periods but also to gather real time analytics on customer choices and preferences which can be used to render better user experiences,” says Patel, Co-founder and President. The technology also helps deliver genuine orders and reduces the proportion of spam orders to zero, say the founders.
Voolsy, which has a presence across seven cities and has partnered with 1,500 outlets, started out by teaming up with restaurants, then gradually added food-courts and cinemas and is now in the process servicing corporate canteens as well. “We have created a system that accommodates the needs of various types of dining areas and has been expanding at express speed,” says Patel. Founded with an investment of Rs 50 lakh, put in by the co-founders, Voolsy had a tough time to get accepted by the restaurant ecosystem. “Since the concept was new, restaurants were reluctant to accept it. They were used to managing things manually,” says Nebhwani.
Most food joints feared that the technology being offered would rid them of their ‘personal touch’ and compromise their quality of service. “We worked hard to establish the trust with the food services players, worked closely with their outlets, responded to their concerns, offered instant support and, thus, gained their confidence,” says Nebhwani. Some of Voolsy’s prominent clients include Pizza Hut, Subway, Havmor, The Chocolate Room, and Baskin Robbins.
The startup , which is expects to close 2017-18 with a revenue of Rs 50 lakh, is looking to monetise its app better by opting for in-app advertising. With several food-ordering apps available in the market, what makes Voolsy distinctive is that it focuses on in-house dining experience and not just on discounts and deals. “There are no apps in the market that employ the iBeacon technology for in-house dining. In fact, we are looking to partner with other food apps. It will be a win-win situation for all,” says Nebhwani.