Graduated from IIT Delhi, the duo once observed common people waiting for long hours to get served in the restaurants. It was then Deepinder and Pankaj developed a website which provides reviews and information about the restaurants including the images of the menus of those restaurants which have their own website. This eventually helped their users from wasting time for deciding on the menu.
Zomato is a restaurant search and discovery service founded in 2008. Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah are the proud founders of this food search engine.
Zomato’s journey has been an exhilarating one to watch. The startup’s origin story is almost legendary now- Goyal and Chaddah were working at Bain & Company’s Delhi offices at the time, when they noted how they and their colleagues had to queue up to look at a stack of menu cards at the company’s cafeteria, just so that they could decide what food to order. “The rule was that you cannot take these menu cards to your desks, because if you would actually lose them, then nobody would be able to order,” Goyal remembers. “So, we just solved a very simple problem of people ordering food- we just scanned those menu cards, and put them up on the Bain intranet portal.”
It was a simple premise, yes, but the concept was a hit- Goyal and Chaddah saw their colleagues at Bain react very positively to their little online outing; the frequency of visits was particularly noteworthy. And that’s when the duo decided to scale up their offering- there was a world outside of the Bain cafeteria, after all. “I think we’d spent a week of traveling around Delhi, and we picked up pretty much all the menu cards that we could find from different restaurants,” Goyal recalls. “And we just scanned these menu cards and put them online on a website, which you would hate to see the first version of. It had blue HTML links; there was no search, but you could use a browser search bar to look for a restaurant. And as soon as you clicked on one, you used to get its phone number on top, and a bunch of JPEG files [the scanned menu cards]. So that was the first version of what we were called back then, which was Foodiebay, and that was the first version- people used to love it!”
Goyal laughs at this point, and it’s easy to see why, when you look at the sleek, and, quite simply, beautiful interface that Zomato has today. But back then, Foodiebay’s look didn’t really matter: it may have not been easy on the eyes, but the online enterprise was solving a genuine problem in India then, and people flocked to use it. Restaurants began to sit up and take notice as well- they began contacting the Foodiebay team to advertise on the site, and that’s how the revenue stream began. Goyal and his team bootstrapped for the first two years, and after seeing how their offering was received in Delhi, they began to include other cities in Foodiebay as well.
According to data from The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones VentureSource, Zomato is valued at $1 billion.