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Soon, app for Puneites to first see 3D model of how their food looks like and then order at restaurants

peAR Technologies, a Mumbai-based startup, has a team that captures almost 300 images of each item at restaurants and feeds them into a proprietary computer system that converts the pictures into 3D models

At the end of May, peAR Technologies, which uses deeptech computer vision and augmented reality (AR) in restaurant menus, raised a funding of Rs 2.5 crore for growth. Started in 2019, the Mumbai-based startup has proved that its concept works and is scalable.

So what does peAR Technologies offer? Dharmin Vora, who founded peAR Technologies along with Dhruvesh Mehta and Parth Vora, says, “When it comes to ordering a meal at a restaurant, you look at a paper-based menu, read the names and description of items and imagine what these might look like. In India, there might be 100 items but you would have less than half-dozen photos. For the diner at a restaurant, it is like shooting arrows in the dark because you hope that whatever is served is good. What we do is let you see your food as it would look on your table, before you buy it. For this, we use AR and other technologies.”

Currently, the startup has a team that captures almost 300 images of each item at restaurants and feeds them into a proprietary computer system that converts the pictures into 3D models.

The idea for peAR Technologies emerged after Dharmin, a food blogger, Parth and Dhruvesh, who were students at DJ Sanghvi College of Mumbai, ordered a pancake at a restaurant. They were disappointed when the item was served, as there was only one piece, instead of the standard three pancakes and decided that “nobody else should face a similar problem”.

peAR Technologies is set to launch in Pune by the first week of September where it is already working with more than 100 restaurants, chiefly around Fergusson College, and is reaching out to more.

Since January 2020, when the app was launched, till the lockdown forced restaurants to close, the startup saw a 100% month-on-month growth. Despite the uneven functioning of restaurants during the pandemic, they had received 5,000 orders in March 2021, the last time that restaurants functioned normally before the second wave hit India.

The startup’s revenue model is based on charging a 5-10 per cent commission for every order on its app. “In the past eight months, due to Covid-19, we have not charged restaurants. We are on-boarding them free as a way of boosting the community because hospitality is one of the industries that has been severely struck by the pandemic and has got almost no relief from the government,” says Dharmin.

However, Covid has made restaurants adapt to digitisation faster. The app has been found to help users order better, have an improved dining experience and return repeatedly. It also enables restaurants to up-sell and recommend dishes based on a diner’s previous tastes.

With fresh funding, the startup is planning to expand to Delhi and Bengaluru besides increasing its footholds in Mumbai and Pune. “We plan to scale up to 1,000 restaurants in the next four months and keep growing as the dine-in market in India is worth $40 billion,” says Dharmin, adding that peAR has a “hunger fighter” initiative under which they provide a meal to an underprivileged person for every 100 orders they process through their app.

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