One afternoon, in the last week of November 2010, Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah went for lunch at a cafe in the Ambience Mall in Gurgaon, a satellite town outside Delhi. The visit changed the way the two gentlemen thought of their business.
It had been three years since Goyal and Chaddah had set up Foodiebay.com - a website that posted hundreds of restaurant menus, reviews of eating joints and recommendations.
As the two walked the mall, they realised that most of the people visiting the mall did not even know about the eating joints that dotted the mall's fourth floor. Wouldn't it be great if restaurant names and their menus were available to people on the move? The co-founders discussed as they dug into their lunch.
After they returned to work, they summoned their chief technology officer and asked him to build a restaurant application that people could access on their smartphones.
Over the next month and a half, two things happened - Foodiebay metamorphosed into Zomato, and a Zomato application became available for Google's Android operating system. (If you are wondering what the name Zomato means, it's just a word that rhymes with tomato!)
The app was launched around the time the smartphone wave was picking up in India. Since then, about eight and a half lakh Zomato applications, or apps, have been downloaded on Android phones, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and the iPhones. The app currently has 35,000 menus.
Right now, the smartphone app does not make any money for the company but is a novel way to increase stickiness amongst users. "We are looking at it as a marketing tool, but three years from now we will figure out a way to monetize it," says Goyal, CEO of Zomato.
Zomato makes Rs 60 lakh a month in revenue and most of that comes from the website property. The firm's revenues double every quarter, according to the company.