Every startup dreams of being able to create something truly revolutionary and in doing so, garner the attention, guidance, and investment of strong willed, intelligent, and sometimes even famous investors. Attracting the right amount of investment from the right investors is one of the keys to the success and fast growth of a startup.
However, many seldom do.
Offpeak is a restaurant discovery platform that enables customers to book restaurants up to 10 minutes before the dining time slot, and most of the time you get to enjoy many of their lucrative discounts.
And it’s also one startup that got the formula right.
Recently the Offpeak team celebrated a huge milestone—they’ve obtained USD800,000 worth of Series A financing from Gobi Partners.
Gobi Partners is a leading venture capital firm with an investment focus on early-stage, digital media, IT and TMT companies. The firm has raised five funds to date and has invested in over 100 portfolio companies across China and ASEAN over the past decade.
How did they do obtain such a confident amount of funding from Gobi Partners? We reached out to them to dig for some deets, and they—despite humbly stating that they are not gurus in startups or getting funded—generously offered to share their personal experience and opinions.
1. They built a working, usable and profitable product.
This is a no brainer for startups—your product needs to be usable—in fact it needs to add value to your target market. Your product or service needs to be one that makes the lives of your customers easier with added benefits, and this at times means that you have to go the extra mile to tweak your user experience, so and so forth.
Lau Ngee Keong (Co-founder of Offpeak) claimed, “Building a working and profitable product is certainly a must in my opinion. Businesses or startups that will not only get investors interested but thrive and survive for the long term are those that provide a solution to what the audience requires.”
Offpeak ensures that it continually provides an ever-improving solution to both restaurants and customers by allowing restaurants to be discovered online by customers and by allowing customers to make reservations up to 10 minutes before the dining time slot; thus getting a double-win.
2. The have a solid business plan to work on for the next 1 to 5 years.
Tan Ban Eu said, “By solid, it means we do have a plan—be it for our stakeholders, partners, customers and our team at Offpeak.”
a) For stakeholders, current and future, we know the direction that our business is heading towards, which includes generating revenue in the near future, although our immediate focus is on growing the business within Malaysia and the region.
b) For our restaurants, it’s simple—we are a platform that will help increase their business revenue in so many ways. They can be discovered online without having to spend the resources to maintain their digital presence—be it social media advertising to administrating a website. Receive online reservations almost real-time and attract new customers or regulate customer traffic through dining privileges communicated through our dynamic platform.
c) Our customers certainly enjoy the instant gratification that they get from our platform, and simply because it’s so easy to use.
Offpeak also maintains an open-communication with their team to ensure that everyone is aligned with the core vision and to move nimbly towards the main goal.
They gather feedback from various stakeholders, partners and customers to improve themselves and their services while making sure that they maintain a low cost operations model—and today they are sometimes fondly referred to as the “The Food App”.
3. They presented a strong and convincing pitch.
When startups meet investors they need to ensure they are skilled enough to communicate what the business does to the potential investors—and it better be done right.
Tan Ee Ern (Business Development Director of Offpeak) feels that while delivering an ‘elevator pitch’ to communicate the benefits and the potential of your business is important, it’s not as crucial as crystalising—what your business should do and improve on, the timing of each business process and the bigger picture of where the business is heading to and how to get it all done.
“The execution or the ‘How’ bit is important to realizing the business plan. Most of the time, it’s the poor implementation that leads to unfavourable results, no matter how great the plan may be.
The ‘Why’ is always the validation part to ensuring that the actions are justified. But sometimes in startups, there are no ‘Why’s if you are in uncharted territories—it’s a leap of faith,” Ee Ern added.
4. They found the right partner.
Many people are in search for “The One”—someone that’s ideal for them, someone that they can spend the rest of their life with. Similarly, startups should always be in search for “The One”—a partner and an investor that shares your passion and strongly believes in what you do.
Offpeak deliberately sought out Gobi Partners for their vast investment experience in O2O models and they felt they were meant to be right from the start. Thomas Tsao (Managing Partner of Gobi Partners) flew back and forth to KL from Shanghai to meet the team and to ensure that the negotiations were proceeding smoothly. Over time, the process of investment was done in the most professional manner and they provided ample amount of feedback to ensure that Offpeak performs to its very best.
Offpeak was able to build the right product for the right people and they were able to both understand what needs to be done and how it should be done. Understanding the ‘Why’s, the ‘What’s, the How, and the people that they partnered with was crucial to the success that they have achieved thus far.
To top it off, Offpeak has just announced that they have expanded to Bangkok with their new online site in Thailand and soon the Offpeak mobile app to cater for Thailand restaurants will be launched as well. Offpeak plans to expand into 3-4 countries in the next one year and we’re convinced that their game plan is working.