LocalOye.com started out as a local marketplace for unique products and services in Mumbai city called i’mma. At that time however, one of the co-founders of i’mma, Anupam was getting married and was going through a tough time finding a venue for his bachelor party. It was a difficult experience with multiple phone calls, confusion around amenities prices etc. which resulted in many rounds of negotiations. This gave the co-founders an insight into the difficulty faced by venue seekers to find appropriate venues for their events and they came up with the idea of creating a web portal for it. As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention” !
LocayOye is founded byAditya Rao and Anupam Tulsyan. Aditya, a graduate from BITS Pilani has spent the last 4 years in startups doing marketing, front end development and business development. Anupam Tulsyan is a computer science graduate from USC, Anupam spent 2 years in the valley at Drawbridge Inc. building all the core ad serving and reporting systems. He leads the product and tech work at LocalOye.
Market research & Competition
The team did not do any fancy market research before jumping in, and the founder believes that no one else should do that too. “Just look around to see if your problem is a problem that majority of Indians will face / are facing – then it is good enough!“, said Aditya.
The team believes that their competitors are horizontal classifieds sites that have built a database of listings for venues. However, their biggest USP over them is their vertical play and focus on one big category, which means that they can go really deep into the meta data. This ensures that LocalOye is more relevant to both stakeholders of the platform – venue manager and venue seeker by providing valuable information like prices, seating capacity, amenities available, detailed reviews, certified photos etc. The team has been able to cut down the current event planning process by more than 80%.
Journey so far
Currently operating in Mumbai with more than 500 venues, the team has plans to launch in Delhi and Bangalore soon. Aditya recollects, their first product was nothing but a Google Form, lots of phone calls and PDFs. The team even managed sales before launching the product! Through social media and personal emails, they found people who were looking for venues, collected their requirements over email, did venue visits to collected relevant venues and then connected both the parties over email. The entire 2 weeks exercise was what finally became a product; with great on the ground insights on what is important and what is not.
LocalOye platform has two main parts – front end, which is a recommendation engine to find venues, and backend app for venue managers to manage their inventory in terms of leads, bookings, revenue, team performance etc.
Hiring the team…
For an early stage startup, the biggest hurdle is hiring- and they successfully overcame it! If one cannot find people who are ready fight along side when shit goes down, then you can not move forward.
Aditya usually tends to hire fresher’s who are fresh, passionate and misfits (mostly engineers who hated engineering and would like to try sales and marketing in true words, said Aditya). Fresher’s come with less baggage and are ready to be moulded in any way the company needs them to be. Aditya’s manta?
In terms of keeping the army happy, keep a very open and honest environment, give them enough space to make mistakes and make sure everyone knows what direction you as a team are headed towards.
The startup’s hiring strategies are fantastic, as LocalOye has 0% attrition rate in the 6 months of operation so far. Indeed commendable!
Funding & Future Plans
The startup has raised a seed amount from a syndicate of investors. In the near future, the startup plans to expand inventory size across Mumbai and increase penetration of their venue management backend tools.
“Business plans and ideas are bullshit. Take it one day a time. Execute, change a small thing to make it a little better, get up tomorrow and do the same thing again“, are Aditya’s golden words for all of us before signing off.
As with lot of sectors, Venue Recommendation sector is ready for disruption. People do have a need to find the right venue with minimum hassle as possible, and platforms like LocalOye fit the bill really well. The team has taken smart steps in generating sales even before launch, hiring the right set of people and focusing on the backend tools for vendors. And the seed funding pretty much validates the problem LocalOye is trying to solve. We wish LocalOye team all the best in their future endeavors!