Open Table powers through a Dip
Open Table is an online reservations service. It’s free to use and the restaurant pays a dollar per diner. The company has raised more than 20 million dollars to date. (original Times story).
During the company’s first three years, they booked a million diners (in total). Now, they book two million every single month. Five years ago, they had 1,000 restaurants to choose from, now they have 7,000.
That’s what it looks like when you get through the Dip. They’re a superstar, the only choice.
How did they know it was a Dip and not a dead end? Because they were selling to an entire market, not just one restaurant (Chez Panisse still isn’t a customer). By measuring incremental progress, they could see that the corner was just ahead.
(And a Dip within a Dip–one happy client is Norma’s, a hyped breakfast restaurant in NY. Norma’s does huge business via Open Table, largely because they come up on top of the breakfast ‘bestseller’ list. Like most things that get through the Dip, they’re popular because they’re popular.)