BookEventz is an online portal for booking venues, caterers and professionals for all sorts of events and parties. These include weddings, birthdays, anniversaries as well as team parties, trainings, cocktail parties and conferences. The platform offers a one-stop solution to all event planning requirements.
The startup was founded by Husband-wife duo Harsh Baid and Shriti Chhajed in 2012. Shriti is an MBA from SP Jain School of Management, while Baid is an alumnus of IIT Mumbai and IIM Lucknow.
It claims to be India’s first online Venue booking platform that started with enabling individuals and companies to book all their F&B requirements like restaurant reservations or party bookings, online.
We caught up with Shriti Chhajed, founder of BookEventz to know more about their startup in the event planning segment and the way forward.
Us: Would you please tell more about your startup?
Shriti: BookEventz enables consumers to organise parties and select vendor services like photographers, DJs, anchors, makeup artists and more from the platform. Users can select venues based on their area, no. of guests, budget, and occasion. On our website you can take a virtual tour of venue with 360 degree view as well.
Us: How will you describe your business model?
Shriti: We are a portal which has tie-ups with several venues and vendors. They pay us for marketing their services and getting revenue and clients for them. Our services are completely free for our customers.
Us: What went into the process of developing this startup and what were some of the challenges and surprises?
Shriti: I had always wanted to start a restaurant, so I worked on a few restaurant ideas a theme based restaurant, chai point with hobby ideas, etc. With an interest in this industry, I was trying to figure out an idea which could be scalable, more tech based, and where not really much legal formalities are required, so I zeroed down on Urbanrestro and started working on it in Sep 2012.
We launched the website on 21st Dec 2012 with 9 restaurants/lounges on board and got our first booking on 24th Dec for 4 people. In the last 9 months we have come a long way. Today the Company is in 11 cities with 3000+ venues and vendors and having served more than 30,000 customer events. We have rebranded ourselves to BookEventZ.
The journey was really tough for the initial 2 years when I was handling it all alone with a bunch of team members and interns. We had bootstrapped for 3 years. It wasn’t easy, I must say. It has become easier since Harsh, my husband, quit his job and joined. Also, post funding it is more motivating to see other people believing in the business potential and, more importantly, ability to get some good folks in the team to progress multifold.
Us: What is the competitive landscape?
Shriti: There are competitors in this field, but most of them are focusing only on weddings. In contrast, half our customers are corporate clients and half are for social events, including birthdays, anniversaries, farewells and weddings.
We have the first mover advantage in this space, as we started in 2012 while most competitors are comparatively new. We already have a strong vendor side product for realtime availability and offers.
Us: Are you profitable? What kind of traction do you have now?
Shriti: We have catered to more than 30,000 event requests with an average booking size of over Rs 100K and 100 people. Our current turnover is Rs 1.5 Cr a month, doubling every 3 months. We can achieve operational breakeven at our current productivity levels too, but we are continuously investing in the product and team as part of our expansion plans.
Us: Where do you see your startup over the next year or in future?
Shriti: In a year’s time, we want to become AirBnB for people in the Venue Booking Space. We know that there are many more variables attached while booking a venue as compared to booking a room, but every passing day we are getting deeper insight into the venue booking process and we are trying to incorporate those variables onto our online booking process.
Us: Are you funded for what you would like to do to get this off the ground? Are you seeking partners or investment?
Shriti: Initial capital was put in by Harsh, co-founder and my husband. We are still burning as the product is developing with new features regularly and also expansion in other cities. Now we have raised an angel round from Mumbai Angels and a few friends. We are looking to raise our next round of funding.
Us: Any views on Indian Startup ecosystem?
Shriti: Last 2-3 years have seen a boom in Indian startup ecosystem. With an increase in the number of startups, many professionals are curious about working in one. There are many stories of people quitting their white collar jobs at corporate organisations to come and work in a startup as it serves as a platform to showcase their skills and provides an opportunity to work with like-minded people sharing similar goals. The Indian consumer is also very supportive of new companies and game-changing ideas and products. In light of these developments, I see a bright future for startups in India.