A real-time availability bookings app for dining and drinking has closed a £1 million seed funding round and officially launched in the UK.

London-based Ambl – which focuses entirely on connecting people with real-time capacity – launches with 100 London-based venues including Hawksmoor, Bob Bob Ricard, Luca, Marcus Belgravia, Mber, London Cocktail Club and The Alchemist on a test basis ahead of a wider London and UK rollout.

The startup says an additional 1,300 venues are signed up and waiting in the wings.

The app geographically matches people looking for an immediately-available venue, with real-time venue capacity within a 30-minute time window. 

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. They can use it to communicate their latest deals and news with consumers who choose to favourite them within the app.

The investment has come from 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. 

“Ambl’s USP is in its ability to connect spontaneous moments of dining and drinking out with brilliant venues who have real-time availability,” said Aaron Solomon, CEO and co-founder. 

“In just one click, venues can turn-off or turn-on the platform to show seats are currently available: combating 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. 

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“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’s mid-to-long-term ambition is to expand to international markets, taking the UK model and scaling it. The funding will be invested into supporting Ambl’s market launch, its marketing activity and help build out schemes that reward venue partners.  

Spiteri of Sessions Art Club commented: “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.”

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