I was speaking yesterday to an as-yet stealth startup and doing what I usually do in these settings: sussing out business synergies and suggesting connections to other startups, investors, or even larger companies.. And again, I found myself asking this company if they’d come across Booking Angel, the Sydney-based startup that opens restaurant and service appointment bookings to the mass market.
The company kicked around Silicon Valley a bit last summer (I met them in Sydney in August) and built a little momentum. But as is too often the case, the Valley-centric mentality loses interests in event the smartest of companies when they’re not an immediate neighbor. This is one of those cases where local-search companies, among others, would be wise to cast a wider net.
Booking Angel is an online reservation system with integrated phone confirmation. Once a customer requests a reservation online, the business, such as a restaurant, automatically receives a phone call with a voice dictating the reservation request. The receiving party can press ‘1’ to accept, ‘2’ to reject, ‘3’ to enter a different time, or ‘4’ to talk to the customer. If all goes smoothly, the reservation is confirmed within one minute. Businesses are charged only for completed bookings. Booking Angel kicks back a percentage of the fee to the site or directory that facilitated the booking.
If your view of the world is Valley centric, then you know Booking Angel’s top competitor, OpenTable.com, which can confirm bookings instantly even outside of business hours and allow customers to quickly see which restaurants have availability. But OpenTable requires restaurants to invest in hardware and software. After operating a restaurant himself, Booking Angel founder and CEO Dean McEvoy realized that restaurant owners would prefer little change to their usual custom: taking reservations by phone. That realization became the inspiration for Booking Angel. It’s also the realization that makes Booking Angel applicable beyond the restaurant category.
While restaurant reservations are an obvious first step, Booking Angel’s real growth potential to be with small appointment-based businesses such as doctors, dentists, plumbers, and other contractors. With nearly two years of restaurant reservations experience in Australia under its belt, Booking Angel is looking to expand into the U.S by licensing Booking Angel’s technology to directories that already have established relationships with appointment-based businesses.