Utsa Malhotra co-founder BOM is a dynamic entrepreneur redefining the entertainment arena in India, please find below excerpts from a recent discussion with Utsa Malhotra:
- Tell us about your venture – Baromeeter (BOM)? What does it do?
Baromeeter aka BOM is an online Deal-discovery platform that enables its users to book exclusive discount deals and combos, redeemable at leading bars and cafes across town. In addition to that, the Baromeeter app also has a socializing feature, which enables the users to chat with other baromeeter members present at the same café or bar, thus helping them break the ice with that special someone they spot across the bar.
- What were the key challenges you faced while setting up BOM? And how did you overcome them?
Well, challenges were in multi-folds. With a heavily populated segment and big competition in the industry, initial penetration into the market was an issue. Getting Café’s managers and owners on-board with a brand they had not heard before or gaining their trust was a difficult process indeed. It was like the chicken and egg problem, to get the restaurant and bar tie-ups we needed a large customer base and to get a considerable customer base we needed more restaurants listed on our portal. It was a vicious circle.
We dealt with these problems by adapting our product and business model in order to deal with the underlying issues and marketing the product well and to the right audience. Through our socializing feature we were able to create a significant customer base, which in turn helped us secure our tie-ups with the bars and restaurants across Delhi. We constantly work on new innovative ways and schemes to combat the issues we face and keep the vendors as well as the customers happy.
- How did you come up with the idea and what was the Eureka moment?
In the beginning, it all started with the idea of social discovery i.e. creating chat rooms at cafes and bars for people to break the ice with someone new. Though it was received really well by the youth, we still felt we needed to add more to the product and enhance our business model. During the proof of concept stage, we frequented a lot of bars and cafes across Delhi and learnt a lot about the various aspects of operating a café. This particular process led to our “Eureka moment” and directed us to further explore the deal discovery segment and thus incorporate the concept of deals and combos into our product.
- What has been the revenue traction and growth from the date of inception till now?
We commenced our project in January 2016 and initially began selling the deals physically at the cafes, in order to better understand the nuances of such discount deals and the user mentality. It’s been about 6 months since we incorporated the deals segment on to our online platforms i.e. website and App. Till date, we have tied up with 70+ bars and cafes across Delhi NCR and sold around 1500 deals (combos). With the amount of competition in the market, this traction gives us the confidence that we are going in the right direction.
- What is the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors and what’s your revenue model?
We probably shouldn’t be directly disclosing our the trade secret but can certainly hint at it through Rishabh’s (Co-Founder) premise. Deal discovery affects 2 parties, the Cafe and the customer. On one hand, the cafe wants more and more customers at their establishment and on the other hand customers always want to find a way to spend less. Therefore, deal discovery can work in 2 ways; one needs to decide on which side they are at, the cafe’s or the customer’s. We aimed at a win-win situation for both the parties.
Our revenue model, involves charging the BOM members with a modest convenience fee in exchange for helping them save much more through the discount deals offered on our platform. What sets us apart from our competitors is the flexibility and ease that comes with our deals. Our BOM combos can be redeemed at various locations across Delhi and the customer is not required to pay the whole amount before hand. We have leveraged, this particular revenue model to market our product well and it is working wonders for our team.
- How are you funded?
We are bootstrapped till date, but now we have reached a stage where we need to penetrate the market even further and scale up our operations. Thus we are currently looking for first round funding. The money raised shall be put to use for geographical expansion and technological advancement, both very critical aspects for the business. We believe in unit economics and are interested in running Baromeeter as a business and not just a Startup.
- How does the product work? Detailed answer on the workings of the product
The app and the website is pretty simple to use, and that’s what works best for us! The user can use the app or the website to navigate through pocket-friendly standardized combos and exclusive deals, choose one and book it online by paying a minimal booking amount. The Baromeeter team is always available on call incase the users wishes to get a table reserved at a particular café through us or require any other assistance. The user then simply has to visit the café of his/her choice, present the e-voucher and pay at the café only after redeeming the deal.
As far as the socializing aspect is concerned, the user can simply check-in at the bar or café they are present at, through the app, press CONNECT and chat with other Baromeeter members present at that very establishment.
- What are your future plans?
Future plans involve technological advancement for making booking deals easier and more user-friendly. We also intend to constantly bring in assorted yet relevant pocket-friendly deals on our platform, for our users to choose from and continuously increase our tie-ups. We are planning to head to Mumbai and Bangalore in our next phase and introduce more germane features and schemes in order to attract more customers.