On a tete-e-tete with Arun, we got more insights into their journey, and here is the reproduction of the conversation in his own words as a guest post:
The Thought Behind OpenOut
Having been in the Alco-bev industry I used to interact with a lot of bars, cafes, restaurants and also a lot of consumers who would come in over there.
According to me, there are 3 crucial things that make up an experience of going out.
People – Who are you with?
Place – What and how is the place that you are going? What new place should we go today?
Product – is the place known for its food, drinks, music, movies etc?
Now recall the last time you went out, chances are high that you went with the same group of friends, to the same place you have been before doing the same thing you have done last week too. Hardly anything new to look out for.
This is where the concept of OpenOut came in. What if you have hosts (real people and not commercial establishments) who could handle Place (being their home) and Product (being their skill/passion)? That would mean that as consumers you have new places to go to, new products/skills to experience and more importantly since it is a filtered group of not more than 15 people, a new way to meet like-minded people.
OpenOut is a platform for members to find interesting at-home events hosted by real people, over a common interest, passion or skill.
It could vary from hosting a baking session with wine to watching a match screening with beer and chips to a story-telling session over a seven course meal by an aspiring chef to a cocktails 101 event by an alcobev expert.
For Hosts, if they have a certain passion & a home to host, that’s all that is needed to get kicking. Not only can they share their skill and passion with new people, and hence creating a brand for themselves but also an important way to monetise the same.
For guests, Not only does it give a great alternative to going to the same hotel, restaurant, bar and café but also a great new way to meet new people over a topic that interests them.
All hosts and guests are verified or need to come through reference of members who are already in OpenOut, hence making it a place for authentic and credible experiences.
The initial challenge faced by us was to convince hosts to open up their personal space, i.e. their home and invite people whom they did not know. “After having done initial few OpenOuts, people are now opening up to the concepts”. They get a lot of enquiries from extremely passionate and skilled people to use our platform to open up their house. On the guest side too, for all of our events there have been thrice as many people who have been willing to pay and attend these at-home gatherings.
Our hosts and guests are giving us incredible amount of learning after each OpenOut, and we plan to keep on testing with various formats till December. Once we perfect the experiences on both side we plan to scale it up in Bangalore and expand the network sInce we already have a list of people on the waiting list. Once the model is perfected over here, we replicate the same in upcoming target markets like Goa.
We have also seen good amount of interest from brands to be a part of such experiences, so genuine brand experiences at these at-home events are also on the cards.
From a business point of view, it is the no hassle sign ups which takes the cake. It also helps that you can technically run your business even without an app and through whatsapp by sending payment links.
From the users point of view, the surprising ease of doing payments has been a positive. We had a 60 years young (and I say young because she was the most active out of all our guests till now, a live-wire!) guest who has never used netbanking etc finish the payment in ease with just a bit of hand holding..and she felt really really proud !