Real-time availability bookings app closes £1m seed funding and officially launches in the UK
Ambl – the first-ever platform matching diners and drinkers with real-time availability – has successfully closed a £1 million funding raise and officially launched. The London-based start-up has been created to give hospitality venues the necessary tool to fill instantaneous capacity; something leading reservation apps do not currently offer.
The app geographically matches people looking for an immediately-available venue, with real-time venue capacity within a 30 minute time window. Ambl has been created to give restaurants and bars a lifeline; connecting them with genuine ‘in the moment’ demand from diners and drinkers nearby.
The investment has come from industry leaders including Paul McKenna, Jon Spiteri and serial entrepreneur Mark Gordon. This round is Ambl’s fourth pre-seed funding round with total investment to date sitting at £2.3m.
Aaron Solomon, CEO and Co-Founder of Ambl, comments: “Ambl’s USP is in its ability to connect spontaneous moments of dining and drinking out with brilliant venues who have real-time availability. In just one click, venues can turn-off or turn-on the platform to show seats are currently available: combatting last minute cancellations, detrimental no shows or unexpected lulls in bookings. The best bit, turning on the autoresponder does all the hard work for the venue – adding bookings to calendars and responding promptly to customers.
“We see Ambl as being a helping hand for venues, and one that they can use as and when they want to help iron out booking uncertainty. As we move into a crucial and busy Christmas season, where high-value group bookings are more commonplace, we hope Ambl can be the necessary gift that to alleviate some of the venues’ costly pain points surrounding bookings, and also provide customers with a tool to find somewhere to eat or drink at a moment’s notice.”
Ambl comes at a critical time for the hospitality sector, which creates £130bn in economic activity. The latest industry report suggests that more than a third (35%) of UK hospitality businesses could go bust early next year as they face a deadly combination of huge hikes in property rental and energy bills, staff shortages, up to forty percent rise in food costs due to inflation and supply chain disruption, and the prospect of recession – all at the vital time of the peak Christmas trading period looming. Plus it is still recovering from the last-minute and same-day cancellation culture brought on by the pandemic and costing £17.6bn a year.
Phase one of the launch will see 100 restaurants located in the Square Mile area of London such as Hawksmoor, Bob Bob Ricard, Mber, London Cocktail Club and The Alchemist using the platform for the first time, following a process of onboarding and training. Over the coming months, Ambl will use insights from this initial batch of restaurants to iron out any technical issues and build upon its offering, before moving onto phase two.
Ambl’s mid to long-term ambition is to expand to international markets, taking the UK model and scaling it. The additional and recently-secured £1m funding will be invested into supporting Ambl’s market launch, its marketing activity and help build out schemes that reward venue partners.
Jon Spiteri, of Sessions Art Club – and Ambl investor, comments: “As the sector moves into an incredibly busy, and financially important, final quarter of the year, any tool we can use to help time-poor venues is essential. That’s where I see the value of Ambl – as a way to tackle two birds with one stone: the first being empty tables that plague almost all venues for a host of reasons; and two, the customer needing a trusted table in a moments’ notice. It’s exciting to be a part of Ambl’s journey and I think, particularly as we move into a challenging 2023, it can be part of the tech remedy the sector needs to help bolster growth.”
Businesses using the platform will be charged £1 per person on a booking, with no monthly subscription and no additional fees being passed to the diners and can use it to communicate their latest deals and news with those consumers who choose to favourite them within the app.
For consumers it’s completely free and seeks to tap into the spontaneous nature of dining by connecting them in a matter of seconds to venues with real-time availability in the near or desired vicinity of up to two miles, allowing them to secure a booking with up to 30-minutes notice. Ambl enables users to personalise their booking based on party size, type of venue and distance and then select one of two options: Broadcast, which is where all venues within the search criteria respond to the booking enquiry and Search, which is where consumers can browse the venues who have availability.
The app also lets users build a list of their favourite venues, heightening the chance of visiting those with typically long waiting lists and snapping up the best offers through opting-in via the app.
Co-founded by a team of three in July 2021, Ambl has since grown by an incredible 400 percent and been supported by a growing number of high-profile investors within the hospitality and business sector: including Jon Spiteri, of Sessions Arts Club; Mark Gordon, serial entrepreneur; and Paul McKenna, Managing Director, of Red Branch Hospitality.
An additional 1,300 venues are already signed-up and waiting in the wings for Ambl’s wider rollout out across London by the end of the year and the wider UK next year; with a roster of prolific venues including D&D London, Drake & Morgan and JKS.