6 minutes readFrom an idea to a profitable venture — Story of Petpooja
If you are eating in a restaurant in Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, there is a high chance that your bill is printed by Petpooja Point Of Sale Platform.
It is the most connected and advanced Point of Sale available in the Indian market.
Petpooja was founded in 2011 as a multi-restaurant delivery service, pivoted in 2013 to its current form and now it is catering 3000+ restaurants in India. It has raised multiple rounds of funding and is on its way to become profitable starting this year.
Petpooja’s story is a story of persistence, pivot and focus.
Let me walk you through the journey and Digicorp’s role in it.
Phase 1: Multi Restaurant Food Delivery Service for Corporates (2011-2013)
In 2007, we (Digicorp) had launched Petpooja as an online food ordering website (similar to FoodPanda) and failed after trying it for a year. We owned the domain name www.petpooja.com.
In 2011, Petpooja was relaunched as a food ordering platform catering primarily to corporates — a new and more scalable business model. The founders were our friends and we were delighted to see Petpooja reborn.
With this new business model, it gained a good traction in a few months. All orders and processes were managed in an excel file and soon it became inadequate. So the founders asked Digicorp to develop a custom web-based back-end for them but there was a problem. They didn’t have enough money to fund it. Well, we worked out a deal with them. We built the back-end, gave them domain name (petpooja.com) for a sweat equity in the company. We also helped them raise the seed round from angel investors in our network.
In spite of many operational challenges due to extremely unorganised restaurant sector in India, Petpooja did okay for the first couple of years. However the major challenge was scaling the business as it was operationally intensive.
Phase 2: A major pivot and birth of the POS Platform (2013-2014)
For Petpooja at that time, the major operational issue was relaying the orders to restaurants manually via call and following up multiple times to make sure it reaches customers on time. How do we solve this?
We wanted to push orders directly to restaurants’ POS systems and make entire process seamless. However the problem was, most of the POS systems were offline and DOS-based at that time (can you believe it?). The support was non-existent for these POS systems as they were mostly developed by individual developers years back.
The aha moment finally arrived after multiple brainstorming sessions between Petpooja / Digicorp founders and the Product Team.
“Let’s build the most advanced and connected POS for the restaurant market in India. The problems, which we faced as a multi restaurant delivery service, should not be faced by any other companies and third-party integrations with POS should be seamless.
It should also work in an online and offline mode as most of the restaurants did not have reliable Internet connections. And on top of it, let’s give it away for free and we will earn from the ecosystem around it.”
Looking back, this was the start of disruption.
After extensive user research, we built a POS Platform that worked with all printers; printed bills faster than any other POS system; worked in offline-online mode and gave a dashboard to restaurant owners for real-time monitoring.
During this time, Petpooja also received angel funding at a 16x valuation compared to seed round.
Phase 3: The quest for revenue (2015-now)
The POS Platform was doing great and due to no cost and unmatchable features, new restaurant signups were easy. However, it was challenging to give quality service because of multiple environments, different printers, paper types, dismal internet connectivity, biller adoption, etc. The Petpooja team and Digicorp team did a great job to ensure that we do not lose any customer because of substandard service.
Due to a sizeable growth in terms of number of restaurants and daily volume of orders, Petpooja raised another round of funding from high-profile HNIs (High Net Worth Individuals) at nearly 4X valuation than the second round.
Now, Petpooja had funds in place for 18-24 months. But the unsolved problem was the revenue as the product was free. We once again brainstormed with the founding team and came up with a Petpooja Platform Diagram, which is what Petpooja is today.
Two main revenue streams were identified:
- Marketplace providing useful and integrated services for restaurants
- Transaction-based revenue from online and credit card transactions.
Apart from the usual challenges any startup faces, Petpooja is doing very good right now and looking to have its first profitable year (2017).
Now let me share some interesting insights.
How did Petpooja made life easier for its users?
This is the first question we ask ourselves, when we start working on any product. Let’s see how Petpooja does it.
- If you place an order online through Foodpanda (or Zomato or Swiggy) to a Petpooja-enabled restaurant, it will be pushed to the POS system directly and no confirmation call(s) are required in the whole transaction. This is a huge reduction in operational cost.
- If you go to a Petpooja-enabled restaurant and you wish to pay through Paytm, you will get a notification at the end of the meal in your Paytm app and with one tap you can make a payment.
- As a biller, you will receive all your orders (phone, dine-in, takeaway, online) at one place.
- If a biller changes anything in the menu, be it the price or even disable an item, it will be reflected at all the online places at once.
- As a restaurant owner, you can check summary of what is happening at each of your restaurants on a single screen. You get a daily summary SMS and can access other useful integrations through marketplace. You can even get a working loan for your small restaurant!
Some Interesting stats around Petpooja growth
Number of restaurants over years.
Average daily requests to the server. (We are serving 3mn+ requests daily.)
Following stats are also very impressive. But I will not be able to share due to confidentiality reasons.
- Cumulative Monthly Number of Orders
- Cumulative Monthly Amount of Orders
- Total Monthly Online Payments
And, the platform has grown itself into a full-fledged marketplace.
Apart from the valuation, the venture is moving quickly from revenue generation to self sustainable business.
So how does this help Digicorp?
First of all, it is extremely satisfying to see people using products made by us. It feels great when we see a business growing from an idea.
These journeys are long, extremely demanding and challenging but they teach you a lot about what it takes to build a business from an idea.
If you are planning for such a journey, please keep in mind following things.
- They are long and arduous. (There is nothing like overnight success.)
- You have to be persistent. (In any situation there is a way ahead.)
- You have to be focused. (It is easy to choose between good and bad but it is difficult to choose between good and good. This is very important for success of these products.)
All of these sound obvious but you do not understand their importance until you experience them yourself.
To summarise, Digicorp helped Petpooja in following ways.
- Sold Petpooja domain for a minor equity.
- Developed the initial system by taking a sweat equity.
- Helped them raise seed funding.
- Chose right technology for their product.
- Identified right product and right users by pivoting at right time.
- Built a Product Team delivering usable product under all circumstances.
To me personally, this kind of journey enables founders to build their ventures by solving problems with technology and create many jobs. This is the way we see ourselves scaling across ventures.
If you are looking to build a venture out of an idea, Digicorp is here to help.