And thus began the long and arduous journey! And thus was born Dineout. An Investment Banker by profession, Ankit Mehrotra had been living in London for the last 10 years and advancing very well professionally, having just received his CFA charter. Sahil Jain, an IIM graduate, was well settled in Seattle, working on a project with Microsoft.
When bit by the entrepreneurial bug, both left their respective jobs and returned to India all gung-ho about Dineout. Soon the duo was joined by Nikhil Bakshi who quit his job with one of the top fund houses in India in order to be a part of Dineout. And finally, Vivek Kapoor, a mariner by profession, too joined to make Dineout a team of four. We spoke to Ankit to find out about Dineout and the journey so far –
What has been the key to your business’s success?
I really do not want to say that we are successful as the day we start believing that, we will get complacent and lose our focus. Though I believe that the most important key for a start-up to succeed apart from the idea, is the team behind the idea. In our instance, four friends from a very diverse background came together and bought an idea to life. All 4 of us quit our highly successful jobs and made Dineout our passion.
We were also joined by Sonali Kapoor, who was a Marketing Manager at one of the leading restaurant chains in the country. She believed so much in the idea that she quit her job and joined us at a very early stage. This passion and focus is the key ingredient according to me which will propel www.dineout.co.in to new heights.
What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/ do you overcome them?
Used to the professional London environment, I was in for a rude awakening. In the land of opportunities, I quickly realized that not everything was what it appeared. I could never trust someone to do the work until and unless it was actually done.
And I learned never to believe what was actually said. If someone said it would be done in 15mins, it usually meant the end of the day, end of the day meant tomorrow and tomorrow meant never. We had to literally push people and be behind them every hour of the day, be it the developers working on the website or the restaurant owners or managers from whom we had get the contract signed. Working in a start up is a constant uphill battle but ultimately you do get used to it and the rush which you get while working at a start up is like no other. Though launching a startup is no small task, working in a startup makes you feel like “Superman”.
No task is too big to handle, no mountain too high to climb. Time flies and we feel that there aren’t enough hours in a day to do our work! However, the key to any successful venture, I realised very quickly, is not the venture but the people involved and over the last 6 months we have built a strong team of 20 which makes it very exciting and nerve wrecking as well.
Imagine this: everyone in the room talking to each other at the same time (and not very softly) and still managing to do their work perfectly! 🙂
Do you have a mentor who guides/ advices you on matters of the business?
As a start up, we have already received Angel Investment from Ankush Nijhawan, Gaurav Bhatnagar & Manish Dhingra, founders of Travel Boutique online, a B2B online travel agency and Mediology Software. They act as our mentors as well as business advisors.
What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
One of the unique features about our service is that it is absolutely free for the customer. Nevertheless, we place a very high emphasis on our customer service. What we have realized is that customers are only satisfied if the service they are seeking is up to the mark. And understanding the customer’s requirement and providing them an appropriate solution is the key to satisfying the customer and gaining their trust and faith.
This is also important because only if a customer is happy with our service, will he recommend it further to his friends and family, and we still believe that word of mouth is the best form of advertisement.
What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? • Passion & belief in self and the team. • Always have to lead by example and have a never say never attitude. • Willingness to learn & humility. However successful you become, there is still a long way to go.