Technological innovations have brought everything on the World Wide Web. Young entrepreneurs have aptly and very subtly moulded themselves into the system to provide more grasping techniques, more sophisticated web of verified data. Markets have a chasm that is enthralling marketers to harness the potential in myriad ventures, creating a wide-spread e-revolution of skilled professionals and amateurs’ altogether.
Entrepreneurs have left no field unmanned. May it be resource development, app development ot network development – there is an algorithm tried and tested. But what happens when technology meets cuisine. It means delicious, crisp, mouth-watering dishes. Locations and reviews of drive-ins, take-away points, mini-joints and hot hangout spots delivering appetite sizzlers – All online and within reach of a CLICK.
Few days back, I had a chance to have a pleasurable conversation with Deepinder Goyal – a food lover, mathematician, entrepreneur and more.
What’s the story behind Zomato, its conception, success, inspiration and future?
Zomato, founded in 2008, is a revolutionary restaurant guide providing in-depth information for over 71,000 restaurants across various countries of its presence. Zomato’s core content features include menus, photos and geo-coded coordinates for restaurants. Other community features include reviews, ratings and ability to follow other users’ recommendations on Zomato.
Zomato was started by IIT Delhi alumni in July 2008 for Delhi NCR and has expanded its services over a span of 4 years to 18 cities across India, United Kingdom, UAE & Sri Lanka. We have raised three rounds of funding totalling up to $6.5M. Apart from the website and apps, Zomato is also available in print in select cities in India, with print versions for other cities on the way. We are headquartered in New Delhi and currently employ over 200 people across its offices spread across 4 countries. Zomato will continue expanding both nationally and internationally in 2013.
How did you break into the foodie biz? Are you a foodie or a connoisseur?
While I was working at Bain & Company, a leading management consulting firm, I noticed that a lot of my colleagues were queuing up in the office cafeteria to have a look at the menu cards to order food. Most of these people were young, affluent bachelors who did not have access to home-cooked food. I just asked myself “What if these menus were available online?” That was how Zomato, then Foodiebay was born. Pankaj and I then went on to build this database and soon we had gone live with menus for 1,200 restaurants in Delhi NCR in July 2008 which expanded to 2,000 restaurants by the end of the year. My friends tend to joke saying, I love my food enough to start a company that is all about food!
“Best Culinary Travel Guide in India”, How does that feel?
It is always good to be appreciated for the hard work that the team collectively puts in.
Zomato is online, now it has various apps and it’s going into print as well. What else is lined up, five years down the line?
Our immediate focus is on international expansion. We recently launched Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Colombo towards the last quarter of 2012 and recently launched our London section this month. We are currently working on the launch in a couple more cities in the Europe, Middle East and South East Asia. We have a long way to go and going by the mounting interest and dependency being shown in us we will be around for a long time.
Zomato Restaurant Summit 2013. What will it be all about? Any surprises?
The Zomato Restaurant Summit is a gathering of seasoned restaurant owners, senior marketing professionals, venture capitalists and industry visionaries. The theme of Zomato Restaurant Summit 2013 (all three city chapters) is growth.
At the Summit, we will hear and learn from our industry’s most successful people as they talk about their experience of how they went about growing their business to its current scale. The Zomato Restaurant Summit is also India’s biggest networking event for restaurant owners. A place to connect, celebrate and share experiences with each other.
UAE, Sri Lanka, UK, India – what is next on the global list? Any plans of rapid expansion?
We are currently looking at expanding into more cities in Europe, Middle East and South East Asia in this year.
What were the trials you faced as a startup?
When it comes to consumer facing portals the biggest apprehension is around the famous chicken and egg problem – customers find value only if we have the most exhaustive in-depth information on restaurants while restaurant owners find value only if we have enough customers. We solved this problem though by providing a rock solid content platform which provides all possible information for ~95% of restaurants across 18 cities in India, UAE, Sri Lanka and now UK.
Connecting link at Zomato is cuisine. What are the other ingredients?
The other key ingredients would be fun, focus and innovative.
Any message to young entrepreneurs in India?
First and foremost, it’s not about the idea but the execution. Even if you already have a product in the market, you can always do it better. Once you are determined to do something, the other thing to take care of is that you need to find good people to work with. People who are as committed to the job as you are. [highlight]Do not think about money and raising funds upfront, but create a valuable product, which people would like to use.[/highlight] Also, Murphy’s Law is one of the fundamentals you need to get in your head before starting up – “if something can go wrong, it will”.
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