By now you will have probably heard of apps where you can literally book something based on that day's availability. Examples include Hotel Tonight, the same day Hotel booking app, and Yplan, the same day entertainment events app and Hailo, the ‘right now' taxi app. These are simple apps – at least on the front end – which require no planning and usually offer discounts available that day. Now comes Ruffl, a real-time booking system for local services, with the first service aimed at restaurant bookings, launching first in London. Grab the Android and iPhone apps.
Ruffl pretty straightforward – you find a great restaurant nearby, with immediate availability. Restaurants can also make offers in real-time to attract nearby diners. This addresses the problem of no-shows for bookings that currently plague the traditional booking and reservation platforms. So far they say they have signed up 450 restaurants in London.
The startup has secured a $1.6M/£1m seed fund from a bevy of Angels including Karen Hanton (the founder of TopTable), David Pritchard (ex-CEO of OpenTable Europe), and Mark Ferguson (son of Alex Ferguson, the former manager of Manchester United football club). You could describe it as part of the the next wave of hyper-local, real-time dining, alongside Hasty and others.
The cofounders are Aaron Ross and Laurence Carver. Ross is a serial entrepreneur, and was most recently CEO and co-founder of the big data healthcare startup FirstCare.
Founder Ross says: “Restaurants are only the beginning. We built this real-time, hyper-local brokering platform to expand into other verticals outside restaurants.”
The implication here of course is expanding into other ‘realtime needs', though let's see how they do in dining first.