Mumbai: Orios Venture Partners, founded by angel investor Rehan Yar Khan, has made its maiden investment in Ziffi.com—a Mumbai-based appointment-booking portal. It has invested about 15 crore from its 300 crore fund, billed as the largest fund raised entirely from domestic investors.

Ziffi.com allows customers to book appointments with beauty salons and spas, doctors and diagnostic centres. Founded in 2009, the firm started off as a portal offering appointment services only with doctors under the name Docsuggest.com.

“We, however, realized that appointments for spas and salons are more frequently booked, which is now a major focus for us," said Shantanu Jha, founder, Ziffi.

Ziffi has been funded by angel investors such as Rajan Anandan, managing director of Google India Pvt. Ltd; Vishal Gondal, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) at GOQii Inc.; Sanjay Parthasarthy, founder and CEO of Indix Internet India Pvt. Ltd, and Taher Khorakiwala, founder and CEO of MeemAin Capital.

The funds raised from Orios will be used by the firm to strengthen its technology and operations, expand the appointment service for salons in other cities and advertising, said Jha.

At present, the portal has partnerships with about 1,000 salons and spas such as Aura, Enrich and Four Fountains across Mumbai. Ziffi has also tied up with about 15,000 doctors and about 5,000 diagnostic centres and hospitals including Apollo Health and Lifestyle Ltd and Fortis Healthcare Ltd across the Delhi-National Capital Region, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

“It is an interesting opportunity as there are very few specialized appointment booking firms in India and there is a scope for scaling up the business internationally as well. The Ziffi portal offers in-depth coverage and it follows a more vertical-focused strategy as compared to some of the other firms operating in this space," Oris Venture’s Khan said.

Some of the start-ups operating in the online doctor-booking segment include Docengage.com, Helpingdoc.com and Lybrate.com.

Just Dial Ltd has also started an appointment-booking service as a part of its e-commerce initiative.

Even as Khan is bullish on the business prospects of Ziffi, experts say monetization poses a big challenge.

“My take is that appointment booking is a generic horizontal play where monetization is a big challenge. Users like to use these utility tools but not ready to pay for it. Specialized domain-specific use cases may find paid users but cannot scale into a business model itself," said Sanjay Mehta, an investing member at Mumbai Angels.

Khan, however, says that while the business is capital-intensive, it can be scaled-up significantly. “Orios will be open to do a follow-on funding in Ziffi," he said.

Khan launched Orios Venture in 2013. Between 2008 and 2013, as an angel investor, he funded 19 start-ups including Olacabs, Druva Software and Unbxd, and has had 15 successes.

malvika.j@livemint.com

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