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Updated: TimesCity Acqui-hires Restaurant Recommendation Mobile App Gawbl

Timescity Gawbl

Times Internet’s* city guide TimesCity has acqui-hired the Pune-based restaurant recommendation mobile app Gawbl, just four months after the app was launched on Android.

While the financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, Gawbl has put up a note on its website (copy below) saying that it will shutting down the app and the team will be joining TimesCity’s mobile team, where they will be working on improving TimesCity’s mobile apps. Times Internet informed that Gawbl founder Chiragh Kirpalani will be joining TimesCity as the head of mobile.

Founded in January 2013, Gawbl aims to offer restaurant suggestions based on the user’s mood (quick bite, fine dining, experimental or chilling with friends) and his current location. It was a mobile-only service and the company had launched an Android app (now defunct) in April 2013. The company says that it offered suggestions based on the proximity and the serving time of these restaurants, however we weren’t able to try it out since the service was limited to Pune.

Having a strong mobile presence will be key for a city guide service like TimesCity, since we feel a majority of its traffic will be from mobile phones. This is also probably why TimesCity’s competitors like Zomato has invested significantly on mobile apps and are quite outstanding right now. In February 2013, Zomato had informed that 50% of its traffic is from mobile phones. Through this acquisition, the company is probably strengthening its mobile team and improve its existing mobile apps, which were launched earlier in May. TimesCity currently offers mobile apps across Android, iOS and BlackBerry 10 and is currently available in 11 Indian cities including Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata,Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Ahmadabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Goa.

Update: Speaking to Medianama, TimesCity business head Miten Sampat said that they will be integrating several Gawbl features like its recommendation mechanism to the current TimesCity mobile app. He also added that they will be using this mechanism to recommend various restaurants, movies and events to their consumers. However, he declined to disclose any specific details on this. Gawbl co-founder Kirpalani claimed that they were covering around 750-800 restaurants in Pune, prior to the acquisition.

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When queried about why they acquired a team, when Times Internet had done decent mobile app deployments in other apps like Gaana, Sampat told each app comes with its own set of problems and user needs. For instance, a music app has a different problem and serves a different user need than a news app and a local recommendation guide.

On NH7’s InTown: NH7’s InTown is in the similar space of suggesting new things to do in a city. However, Sampat pointed out that NH7 doesn’t cover all the events yet, which will matter when the user has to decide on a single app for this purpose.

Note on Gawbl’s website

I’m delighted to share that Gawbl has signed an agreement to be acquired by TimesCity, part of Times Internet (India’s largest digital product company). After spending some time at their campus, meeting Satyan Gajwani and Miten Sampat from Times Internet, I realized that we all share the similar vision around food discovery, location services and above all, mobile centric approach. This to me is a strategic fit to address the challenge with this acquisition at a national level.

When I began my start-up journey hardly 7 months ago and rolled out Gawbl just 4 months back, I didn’t realize that I would be in this position sooner than expected. We rolled out Gawbl with the aim to help users discover places to eat based on their mood. With a simple user experience we understood the user’s mood, location and provided them precise results in a non-listing format.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all our amazing users, the team behind building, marketing and maintaining this incredible application, family, supporters and well wishers. We have now removed Gawbl from the Play Store but expect loads of exciting elements and an amazing application coming soon as part of the new TimesCity mobile team.

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Chiragh Kirpalani

Updates: Error in headline corrected, added more information on the acquisition.

*Disclosures may apply. Click here for more.

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