MEET The men behind zomato.com, a restaurant discovery platform, that helps you decide where to dine and what to eat
Deepinder Goyal and I have one thing in common — we are foodies. While I fuelled my passion and piled on calories, Goyal came up with something that’s been of help to numerous food enthusiasts and made him and his business partner Pankaj Chaddah famous. The duo came up with zomato.com in 2008, a restaurant discovery platform with exhaustive information on restaurants with reviews by members.
“Pankaj and I were working at Bain and Company. There were a lot of bachelors working with us and at lunch there used to be a demand for menus to order food. We stared scanning menus and put them up online. It was called Foodiebay then,” says Goyal. What started on the office intranet with about 50 menus soon became popular as word got around. Goyal and Chaddah decided to make a business out of it and made the menus available on a public platform. “By the end of 2010 our website was also listing events and we wanted a better name. So we came up with Zomato, — tomato with a zing,” he explains.
Goyal and Chaddah first started out from home. Now they have an office space of 20,000 sq.ft. in Delhi. They also have offices in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Indore, Ludhiana, UAE and Sri Lanka. Next they plan to open in Australia, Turkey and Hong Kong. They have around 200 employees across their offices. “We go through at least 50 resumes everyday to hire one person. We are particular about the applicant’s grammar and his attitude that should match a start-up like ours.”
It’s a young team — the average age is 23. The oldest member is 32 years old. And is he the one? “No”, Goyal laughs adding, “I am 30.”
With many similar websites coming up what according to him is the USP of Zomato? “We have scanned menu cards, our product is user friendly, and one can easily find restaurants that suit your budget.”
Zomato also forayed into print last year with the Zomato Food Guide which sold 95,000 copies across four cities. The site has a million registered users. As of now there are about 60,000 restaurants listed on its site with the most hits coming from Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune and Chennai.
According to Goyal, in the last two years, the food business has doubled up in terms of customers and restaurants. “The most number of eat outs are coming up in Bengaluru. I guess that’s because the population is open to experimenting with various types of food.” Given the bustling food scene everywhere and the competition involved, Goyal feels unique concepts work well. Talking about the Chennai market he says that its doing well in terms of generic restaurants and fast food but the city is yet to see unique concepts such as sports bar, micro breweries, Brazilian restaurants...
Does the duo has any regrets about leaving an established global management consulting firm? “Not at all. Initially when Pankaj and I started we invested around Rs. 50 lakhs in the first two years to run the business. We only started making money last year. The journey has been pretty good. No hiccups,” he signs off.