Striking The Right Foodie Chords: Techcircle Fastracker 2012 Zomato

1 Mar, 2012

We kick off our coverage of Techcircle Fastrackers 2012, the 20 hottest tech startups to watch out for, with what we love most – a cocktail of technology and food.

DC Foodiebay Online Services Pvt Ltd, a.k.a. Zomato (it started as Foodiebay), is an online food directory which provides information to help users choose where to dine out or dine in.

On the site, the information is listed under various heads – location, cuisine and whether you want to dine out or require home delivery. Users can also type in a restaurant's name and get all relevant details. Currently, it operates in 10 cities – Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh.

The firm was started in 2008 by IIT-Delhi alumni Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah. Both of them worked with the consulting giant Bain & Company prior to starting Zomato.

Just like any other startup, the road was initially rough and edgy. The business essentially depends on user experience and thus takes time to evolve. According to Goyal, the biggest challenge was to convince the restaurants and F&B players about the benefits of online marketing and bring them on board.

But now it is a well-recognised brand and therefore, it is not surprising that the firm has got a strong backing from the most valued public-listed Internet firm Info Edge (India) Ltd "the company behind the popular job site Naukri.com.

In fact, Zomato has already received two rounds of funding from Info Edge, totalling around $4 million. Find more on that and how the firm is scaling up here.

Zomato works as a hyperlocal advertising medium and has recently launched online ticketing of events, which is, again, a revenue churning segment, although highly competitive (it competes with Buzzintown which is now part of Yatra.

As opposed to the restaurant info segment, the events section currently caters to only four cities – Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune – and gives information on various categories like nightlife, theatre and dance, excursions, live performances, etc. Zomato forayed into events in September 2011, and is currently focusing on scaling it up.

"Our events section has received great response from both users and merchants. It's acting as a discovery platform, just like our restaurant guide, and users can purchase tickets for popular events on Zomato.com. We have a lot of things planned for this section, including social features (integrating Facebook, for instance), and we will be rolling them out in the coming months. Also, we have just launched our Windows mobile app and are working on improving our apps across all platforms. So you can expect to hear more on these in the future," said Goyal.

Foodiebay was rechristened as Zomato in November 2010 and for those who are wondering what it means, let's tell you, it's just referring to a tomato with a zing!

Keep track of this space over the next few weeks for a lowdown on our other Fastrackers.