In an exclusive interaction with Restaurant India, Deepinder Goyal, Founder and CEO, Zomato, tells his global expansion plan mentioning the need to raise fund.
What is your presence in India and globally presently? What is in your radar next?
Zomato is an online and mobile restaurant search and discovery service, providing in-depth information for ~300,000 restaurants across 18 countries. The company is present in over 100 cities across India, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Lebanon, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, UAE, South Africa, Philippines, Portugal, Brazil, Chile, Turkey, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Qatar. We are planning to expand to multiple geographies over the next few months like Malaysia, Vietnam, Jordan, Kuwait, KSA, Oman, Colombia and Poland are some of the countries in the pipeline.
You are the leader in the segment. What exactly is your business and revenue model?
Our freemium business model directly and positively impacts the restaurant industry. While we list all restaurant information on the website at no cost to the establishment, restaurant owners have the option of advertising on our highly targeted platform. Given that our advertising model is hyper local, businesses can display ads to hungry consumers looking for dining options in a specific area. Zomato provides restaurants with analytics to track their performance, engage with their patrons by responding to reviews and feedback as well as directly add their promos. Globally, over 4000 restaurants advertise on Zomato, who have seen a marked, measurable growth in their business. Online advertising accounts for 100 per cent of our revenue.
Are you open to both routes for expansion organic and inorganic?
Post recent acquisitions, the only thing that has changed the way we think is that inorganic growth is no longer ruled out. But that’s not the only way forward for us. We’re still going to venture into the markets and build from ground up. It is important to have the right team and people to execute Zomato well in the market more than an acquisition or starting from scratch. When an acquisition gives us a great platform to launch with and a great team to take the business to the next level, we wouldn't rule out an acquisition.
Have you covered all the cities in India? If not, what is your plan?
We are currently present in 36 cities in India. We are focusing our energy on increasing our footprint in India and abroad.
You currently raised the third round of funding. Where can we see that money invested in the business?
The latest fund will be used to accelerate Zomato's global expansion and new product development.
You have also changed your logo. Was it a business decision or an emotional decision?
Our logo has evolved since our inception as has our identity – from the Foodiebay days up until now. Zomato is currently available in 18 countries, and those numbers are only going to increase over time. As a global brand, we felt we needed a logo that could transcend languages, cultures, and geographical boundaries and be recognised easily by people all over the world.
With our rebranding, we are trying to share our philosophy as an organization and people. The rebranded logo captures the story of millions of meals and experiences being shared with a vast global community of people i.e., the story of 'people and food'.
What is your unique marketing strategy?
While our medium is primarily online, our marketing is a mix of both online and offline and we intend to continue in that vein. Our online marketing encompasses search engine marketing, and our social media channels are a great way for us to connect with our users.
We use our social media channels as a fun engagement medium to spread awareness about who we are as a company and as a product, and also listen to what our users have to say. Listening to users is always helpful because if they find a product useful, they spread the word among their friends and social circles. As for offline, we tie up with restaurants for BTL advertising, especially in new markets.
Right now, we’re heads down in expansion mode and number one on our agenda with respect to marketing is to make Zomato a global synonym for food.
How easy it was for you to get the global partners on the board?
Investors look for a product that adds long-term value to an increasing user base. Our product offering up-to-date content, a scalable business model, and a great team in place gave investors the confidence to invest in us.
No doubt you are on top of the list. Do you feel threatened sometimes?
There is immense competition in the start-up world. What spices up the competition further is the product offerings. A lot of people will have the same idea as you; the point is to ensure that you outdo everyone else. Keep shipping things. If you’re focused on creating a world-class product, the reception you get is honestly worth all the effort. As we grow, we’re more driven to constantly improve our product with less room for error.
What is your expansion plan?
We have two focus areas for the immediate future – expansion across multiple geographies, and building vertical depth within the restaurant space.