First and foremost; it's not about the idea, but how effectively you can execute it. Even if you already have a product in the market, you can always do more to make it better. Once you are determined to do something, the other thing to take care of is that you need to find good people to work with. People who are as committed to the job as you are. Do not think about money and raising funds upfront, but create a valuable product that people would like to use. Also, Murphy's Law is one of the fundamentals you need to come to terms with before starting up â€“ "If something can go wrong, it will."
When we started building Zomato, we realised we could build a business out of scanned menus when we started receiving positive feedback from our co-workers at Bain. As we went along, the effort consistently seemed to pay off, and we knew our idea was scalable enough to take us global. We started out of a living room and now we have multiple offices across the world and are always looking for opportunities to take a step further. We cherish the whole journey till now.
But in the journey the people are always the most important stakeholders. Hiring the right people has always been a major challenge for Zomato. Not everyone fits in perfectly, and unfortunately that's something we discover over time. We learned and re-learned the importance of hiring the right people as they are the ones who drive the company forward. We keep innovating the way we hire, and try our best to ensure that people are cultural fits â€“ skill alone does not cut it for us. In fact, more than anything, a wrong hire is a major low for us as a company as well as a team.
As a company we are always looking to innovate but we have also had a few highs and lows. One thing that we could have done differently is our events section, which we launched in 2012. Soon after we started it we figured that there wasn't much juice in the market, except in movie tickets â€“ which is something BookMyShow already dominates. So we made the critical decision to shut it down. However, the mistakes we made in the past were essential to our learning curve. Some things are learnt only when you experience them first-hand; so even if we went back and did things differently, we would have made the same mistakes at a later point in time.
Getting investment and getting the right kind of investor on board is very critical. When we were looking for funds for the first time, we realised that most people were incredibly risk averse. However, we overcame this difficulty when we found two investors in India who believed that our business model would succeed. Having a solid content platform and a great revenue model to leverage it are essential to convince investors.
Overall, the growth we have seen over the past 15 months is definitely a high point for us. Before launching our first international operations in Dubai, we were in 12 cities in India and never thought we'd grow as quickly as we have. We're in 35 cities across 11 countries today, with more on the way.
If not Zomato what else?
I am asked the question often, had I not been building Zomato I would still be working on some or the other entrepreneurial venture. Though I was working with leading management consulting firm Bain & Company for four years prior to starting Zomato, I have always had an entrepreneurial streak and would have kept tinkering with some or the other business idea.
(Deepinder Goyal is the co-founder and CEO of restaurant listing site Zomato. As told to Techcircle.in's Sonam Gulati)