Market minnows: BigDish

Casting the net on tiddlers who want to be whales

BigDish has caused quite a stir since its flotation in August.

It is a tech start-up and, like all such businesses, is either going to take over the world or disappear without trace. The idea is to offer discounts — between 10% and 50% — to restaurant customers to fill empty space.

Sounds familiar but unlike reservation platforms such as OpenTable, TripAdvisor, Zomato or Groupon, which push customers to go to the restaurants at any time, BigDish encourages diners to go to a restaurant at a particular time. It means restaurants can control the level of discount and the maximum number of discount diners.

BigDish at present operates in the Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong and now in the UK. It has launched in Bournemouth, Bath and Bristol, areas larger players have ignored.

The model is simple, with BigDish charging the restaurant a fee per diner — about £1.50 — instead of charging the customer.

The company raised £2.2 million at its float, most of which will be spent on marketing.

In January the firm received a boost when it appointed Sanj Naha as incoming chief executive. Naha has experience in the industry having held senior positions at TripAdvisor and Bookatable.

He said: “While at TripAdvisor I helped grow their restaurant base from 11,000 to 36,000 over a two-year period. We discovered that the key was to have the right restaurants and the right deals. I intend to bring that same philosophy to BigDish, and management expect we will achieve break-even in our first two territories within the second half of 2019.”

The firm is hoping to have signed up 6000 restaurants across England, Wales and Scotland by the end of this year.

Analysts, however, warn that the business is hard to value at this point and Richard Gill at Align Research has a speculative Buy on the stock with a target price of 5.5p.

The company itself has made no secret that should it reach a certain size then it will sell out to private equity. Founder Aidan Bishop points to the £112 million Bridgepoint Development Capital paid for deals site Tastecard back in 2015.

He adds: “We’d certainly be up for a larger player acquiring the business.”

This is a high-risk punt but if it works and is bought out, you’ll never forgive yourself for passing this up.


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