Launched in 2008 in New Delhi India, Zomato.com is a restaurant discovery platform with in-depth information on over 97,000 restaurants across 21 cities in 7 countries. Zomato aims at providing users with everything that they might want to know about the restaurant before deciding to dine-out, take away or order delivery. This includes contact information, menus, pictures, maps, reviews and ratings.
Zomato‘s first overseas expansion was in UAE in 2012 and has since expanded to five more countries. Currently, Zomato attracts over 12 million monthly users who visit the website to discover more restaurants in their city.
TechMoran caught up with Deepinder Goyal founder and CEO Zomato.com and here is what he told us.
Why restaurant and night life guide when there are so many things in tech to do?
We are focused on the restaurant industry and getting users the relevant information as conveniently as possible. The online medium just happens to be the most effective way of doing that. Dining choices is something that users have to make each and every day and we see an opportunity in this space to both serve the users and also help the restaurants reach out and market themselves to a relevant audience. We have leveraged technology to make this process seamless and effective. Our focus on mobile applications and providing users rich content on-the-go has been a differentiating factor for us and something that we work on improving every day.
Who are its founders?
I(Deepinder Goyal) founded Zomato.com (then Foodiebay.com). I am a graduate from IIT Delhi in India. The journey to the present-day Zomato started as a small exercise to help my colleagues negotiate huge stacks of menu cards with ease. in 2008, while working with Bain and Company, a management consulting firm, I put all menu cards in my office on the internet. Pankaj Chaddah, and Gunjan Patidar (who are now Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technology Officer respectively), joined me in building the database. The website officially started in July 2008 with a list of 1,200 restaurants in the Delhi NCR region.
What else have the founders founded?
This is the first venture for the founding team.
What problem do you solve?
Zomato is a platform that provides in-depth information about restaurants (e.g. menu cards, contact details, pictures, directions, rating and reviews) to its users helping them make a well-informed decision before stepping outside their house. One can also get an opinion about the restaurants through the reviews written by people who have already visited the place. A problem many users face is outdated information, which we aim to overcome by making sure all our information is up-to-date, and completely refreshed every 3 months. We also solve the problem of having this information readily available, by being accessible on the web, on mobile apps (available across all major platforms), and even in print format through our Connoisseurs Guides for different cities.
Why South Africa when Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria are big in internet usage?
South Africa has a very diverse restaurant industry and one that is growing, as visible due to the number of homegrown chains. The growth of the mobile sector in the country, coupled with the healthy restaurant sector made it a great candidate to establish a footprint in Africa. We are constantly scouting new geographies and each of the above countries is on our list of places where we would like to expand sometime in the near future. A big part of our decision-making is the nature of the restaurant industry and whether we see ourselves as a sustainable business within the sector.
Where else are you operating apart from India and South Africa?
We currently have presence in 21 cities across 7 countries; India, the UAE, UK, Qatar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and now South Africa.
We have in-house content teams that source, moderate and update all the information (except user reviews and ratings) on the website and refresh it every 90 days. We are not afraid to hit the streets and go door-to-door to collect menus, pictures, map coordinates and other information straight from the restaurants. We welcome user-generated data; however everything on the website is highly moderated by our in-house team. We are the only website in the market with menus for over 95% of the restaurants listed with us. We make sure we give the user all the information required to decide if he wants to go to a restaurant or not, and we give this information for every restaurant in the city. All the information is made available to users on the website as well as the mobile applications.
How many users so far so far?
We are currently attracting over 12 millions visitors globally every month. Johannesburg alone is currently attracting over 3,000 visitors daily in the first month of operation.
what is your business model?
Our revenue model is based on hyper-local advertising. Most of our users visit Zomato just before lunch or dinner time, to find restaurant options in their neighborhood. The rich content on Zomato makes sure they get this relevant information quickly and they can filter the information down to a very specific set, including marking preferences by area, cuisine or price. Restaurants advertise to these users through us and are also effectively able to track the business that Zomato generates for them.
Who are your delivery partners in South Africa?
We have no delivery partners as of now.
Any competition in South Africa?
There is no direct competition in our space. There are few websites who are providing similar information. Zomato.com is however, far more comprehensive with double the coverage in terms of the number of restaurants listed on the website with richest data.
How unique are you from them?
Apart from our content platform, which is more comprehensive and covers all the restaurants in the city – we actually differentiate ourselves by serving customers in all categories – dining-out, delivery and take-away. To do this, we cover the streets to collect content on our own. We scan each and every menu card and put it up online for users to view for free. In addition, we provide users with exact restaurant locations and contact information about these restaurants. If a restaurant exists, we want to see it for ourselves and then provide that information to people. We focus a lot on providing easy access to this information through our website, from providing filters for cuisine, prices or location to helping users follow recommendations from others in the community. Not everyone has the time to read 1000 reviews for a restaurant – but everyone wants to know what is served and how much will it cost- and we always aim for the users to spend as little time as possible in making their choices.
Zomato has received four rounds of funding from Info Edge (India) Limited, a publicly listed company on the National Stock Exchange in India. The total amount of funding raised by Zomato stands at USD 16.5M as of March 2013.
Since the team is growing rapidly, we are constantly trying to catch up on recruiting great talent across the different geographies where we operate. In less than a year, we have expanded to the UAE, UK, Qatar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and now South Africa, and finding the right people there has been a big challenge.
Any upcoming features, developments, expansion plans like this month, next month or in a few months?
We have a number of product-related improvements in the pipeline- we are working on some changes to the website to enhance the user experience even more and add more social features. We are working on expanding into more countries but our immediate focus is on growing our current markets and expanding to newer cities within the countries that we are present in.