After resisting months of inquiries from “large international players”, Australian restaurant booking startup Dimmi agreed to be acquired by TripAdvisor because they believed they found “a bunch of guys that give a shit” about the Dimmi brand.
It’s the latest in a number of acquisitions TripAdvisor has made in markets around the world to help strengthen its restaurant division. TripAdvisor generates over 200 million monthly page views from its restaurant traffic. One such startup was LaFourchette, an online restaurant reservation service that operates in France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy. Sources told TechCrunch that deal was worth $US100 million.
Dimmi, which began as some ideas scribbled on a napkin in a London restaurant, has grown to become a network of over 2500 bookable restaurants across Australia that has seated 12 million diners and published over 500,000 verified diner reviews. Co-founder and chief executive officer Stevan Premutico says Dimmi’s position as market leader in Australia had led to a number of approaches from “large international players” over the past 18 months.
“To be totally frank we just weren’t looking (to be acquired), we were growing quickly, having a lot of fun. I think the team and certainly myself were a bit nervous about an international player suffocating our growth. So we kept running hard and running as fast as we could,” he says.
“The international markets have hotted up in this space over the past six to 12 months. They kept approaching us. And about three months ago we entered formal discussions with TripAdvisor.”
Premutico says the deal was concluded pretty quickly over two 60 minute Skype chats with TripAdvisor co-founder and chief executive officer Stephen Kaufer.
“We weren’t looking to sell but we engaged with TripAdvisor, we liked the way they saw us being part of their story,” Premutico says.
“At the end of the day the most important thing for me as the founder of Dimmi was I wanted the Dimmi brand to live on. And be part of a family that is as passionate about restaurants as I am. We found a bunch of guys that give a shit.
“I think what they love about Dimmi is, one, we’re the clear market leader in Australia; two, very strong respective brands; and, three, we are growing revenues strongly, profitable and growing aggressively. The Dimmi website alone is growing 160% year-on-year.
“And I think more than anything else they fell in love with the team. I’ve always said I think I’ve got 30 of the most talented people in the country working at Dimmi.”
The team, including Premutico, will continue to work on the product, with TripAdvisor’s restaurant division.
“Australia is an important market for us. Combining Dimmi’s national restaurant network with TripAdvisor’s local and global community of travellers will allow us to deliver more seated diners to Australian restaurateurs, and help more TripAdvisor users book a great dining experience in Australia,” Kaufer says.