We wanted to meet Deepinder Goyal for lunch, at a restaurant of his choice, because who better to tell us about a good one than the founder of online restaurant guide Zomato.com. But Goyal would rather eat up the competition, in this case Yelp, the US-based big daddy of search websites. A huge banner in Zomato’s Delhi office, proclaiming that the company wants to have Yelp for lunch, is testimony to its hunger for success. Whether this is huge ambition or sheer arrogance, only time will tell. But going by Zomato’s growth chart, things look promising right now.
Flush with funds, a cool $37 million by investors Info Edge and Sequoia Capital, Zomato has much on its plate, and the proverbial miles to go. Even the day we meet Goyal for coffee, he has a flight to catch. But it is not to some prospective business location abroad, despite Zomato going global full throttle; only good old Mumbai. For now.
With a presence in 14 cities in India, some of which Goyal says are not very profitable, Zomato feels saturated in the Indian market. The way forward is to expand abroad, which is Zomato’s undivided focus. With 22 cities worldwide already in the kitty, the company has plans to expand to 22 countries in the next two years. Interestingly, Zomato opted for an inflow of funds over a big buyout, as Goyal claims on his blog. But he is not revealing names. Even when we ask him if the buyer was Yelp, he refuses to talk. However, he admits Zomato is not averse to acquiring other businesses, both foreign and domestic, in case something right comes up.
As he talks with an air of quiet, but firm confidence, it’s hard to believe that five years ago, Goyal and his partner Pankaj Chaddah, both IIT graduates, were just scanning menus of restaurants in Delhi-NCR and uploading them on to the web. Today, Zomato is present in 35 cities in 11 countries, with a staff strength of over 600, and a valuation of around R1,000 crore.
Goyal reveals one of his secrets of success: the company still operates like a start-up, with everyone on board expected to show the same commitment, enthusiasm and ambition as they did when they began. So if he claims that most of the people he started out with are still with the company, he has also lost count of the number