Asia
michael-cluzel
restaurant
tripadvisor
Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia’s Eatigo lands $10M+ from TripAdvisor for its discount restaurant service

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Oh you thought location-based food deal services were done and dusted! Eatigo, a discount restaurant booking service that bills itself as the anti-Groupon, would have you believe otherwise. The startup has closed new funding to the tune of over $10 million from travel giant TripAdvisor to expand its service across Southeast Asia.

Eatigo was founded in 2013 and it is currently present in Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand and also in Singapore. It believes it is different to Groupon because it grants restaurant owners full control of when they wish to make offers available to prospective customers. In other words, if I know my restaurant is busy during lunch but quiet from 3pm, Eatigo can arrange offers of up to 50 percent that are valid from 3pm to help make my off-peak times busier.

Not only does that mean additional revenue by utilizing otherwise unused inventory, but it avoids the stampede of people rushing in with discount codes and coupons and flooding an eatery to the point that the staff can’t keep up, which doesn’t give a diner a good experience. That was the case at times when Groupon and LivingSocial were booming a couple of years ago. Discounts can also be varied across time periods, to help manage the number of customers incoming.

Bangkok-headquartered Eatigo said it is seeing 20 percent month-on-month growth for reservations and revenue, but it declined to provide further details of its profit/loss. It claims 700 restaurant partners and one diner seated every three seconds of the day on average.

What’s particularly interesting about this news is that the round — which is Eatigo’s Series B — comes from TripAdvisor. The exact size of the deal has not been disclosed, however Eatigo said that it takes its total funding to date to $15.5 million. TechCrunch understands from sources close to the deal that Eatigo had previously raised less than $5 million from its undisclosed Series A last year and other prior fundraising. That makes this round over $10 million in size.

That Series A was led by corporate investors rather than VC firms. Eatigo CEO Michael Cluzel told TechCrunch that is particularly keen on leveraging such partners because they bring more to the table than simply cash.

One of its Series A investors has links to media — which enabled Eatigo to get affordable billboard advertising across Bangkok, surprising for an early-stage company — and this time around Cluzel said TripAdvisor has much advice to impart from The Fork, its restaurant booking platform in Europe

“We prefer “slow” over “fast” money and having partners on our board who really understand the business and share our vision. The TripAdvisor team from The Fork have gone through the same scaling exercise we are about to embark on,” he said.

“We also have traditionally been seeking out investors who can bring more to the table than money and the opportunities with TripAdvisor are massive in this respect,” the Eatigo CEO added. “From sharing of best practices, over content, creating new revenue streams, technology support and many more we believe that such synergies can improve both user experience as well business performance.”

From TripAdvisor’s side, Bertrand Jelensperger — co-founder and CEO of The Fork — said: “We share with Eatigo a common vision [and] have also been impressed by this fast moving innovative business and by their ambition to quickly grow and scale the brand into other markets across Southeast Asia.”

Cluzel said that Eatigo plans to invest the money on regional growth. He declined to state an exact timeframe for that expansion plan but it is likely to be done in 2017.

“Our focus is clearly on Southeast Asia only for this round. We want to become a truly regional player [and] expect that full rollout across all new markets will take less than one year,” he said.

That regional expansion is aimed at taking the company to breakeven within the next two years, Cluzel added.