EXCLUSIVE: Zomato’s Founder Deepinder Goyal Reveals The Secrets Behind Their Success

Posted on September 23, 2014 in Entrepreneurship, Interviews

By Mayank Jain:

Zomato is one refreshing startup which is succeeding because of its innovative marketing, services and a brilliant focus on ease of use of the whole ecosystem from the app to the website. It is a company making people happy with their offerings and even on social media, Zomato’s pictures and albums go viral within no time. It’s the magic of the same zing that Zomato has embraced as its brand identity.

We spoke to Deepinder Goyal, who is the Founder and CEO at Zomato, to discuss the secrets behind success of Zomato. His insights reveal how their focus from the starting-up stage was on building a team of talented individuals from their own networks at first.

“When we started, we were bringing people on board whose work we’d heard about in our social circles and network. At the time we were tapping into our own networks and looking for people to join our team in New Delhi. Some of our first hires set the perfect tone while we were making subsequent hires as we grew our team. Gunjan, our CTO who joined us in 2008 for instance, made for a great example of the kind of people we wanted as part of our team. He was focused on being part of a growth story and more importantly on creating a product with the intent for it to do well globally,” he says.

Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO Zomato

Zomato’s success lies in the quality of the talent it hires. The company looks for people with attitude towards doing the unconventional and doing it right. This passion in people is what fuels the whole company and Zomato has benefited heavily from the talent it has chosen to hire.

“Today, we have some of the smartest people on board. We look for culture fits – for people who think ahead, have an attitude to hustle and take ownership of their work. Each person in the organization has a fire in them to get things done. We look for culture fits more than a glossy CV. What we do differently is that we consider ourselves to be a global start-up and that’s what helps us scale greater heights. For us, however much we achieve, we’re 1% done. Our destination is a moving target. This helps bring perspective to our work.”

Looking for the talent is not an easy task by any measure and Zomato has always gone the extra mile to ensure their hiring strategies are the best of the lot. From code-weeks to leadership programs that reach out to talented cream in the industry, Zomato has become the creative gold mine.

“We do everything from campus hiring to networking, and internal referrals to hiring programs to find the best talent for tech, sales, marketing, content, and operations roles.

“Finding technically and culturally compatible talent isn’t always easy, but we keep innovating on our hiring techniques in order to counter the problems we face. Through the Trial Week and the Leadership Program we have in fact connected with some seriously talented people. Trial Week was launched to solve the problem of recruiting engineers. Techies work for a week with our tech team in Delhi on projects that are part of our development roadmap. At the end of the week, those we see fitting in are offered a position in the team.”, he adds.

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Startups are mostly cash strapped and high on appetite for talent but Zomato has walked the tightrope better than most in the industry. It is one of the most sought after places by job applicants and the fast expansion of the company’s operation to multiple continents and countries is a testimony that apart from other things, they cracked hiring and retaining like none other.

“The Leadership Program has helped us connect with people who have been entrepreneurs in the past. These are people who have built businesses from scratch. Having such people on board has helped us scale so much faster. Taking Sahil Ludhani for example, while at college he harbored the dream of owning a restaurant someday. After graduating he joined McKinsey & Co as a Business Analyst and even while he was working there, the idea of owning his own restaurant kept gnawing at him. He quit his job and opened his Sports Bar in the capital. He then joined the Zomato operations team. Armed with the skills of having run his own restaurant — hiring, business development, costing — he launched Zomato’s operations in New Zealand.”

The perks of working at Zomato include good food, amenities, flexible working spaces and a flat organization which doesn’t discriminate but there’s more to retaining talent in an organization than just facilities. Deepinder knows this only too well and has focused on transparency, growth opportunities and ownership of divisions as the key pillars of human resources at Zomato.

Talking about retaining talent, Deepinder says, “We have an extremely flat organisation – a transparent one – a place where if someone wants to know something, they can simply ask. That’s the kind of culture we’re building. We’re living in a world – online and offline where people have a different understanding of a sense of ownership and responsibility. For us, we’re most focused on instilling that sense of ownership – it is one of the most important aspects of retaining talent. There is a lot of flexibility in terms of roles. That’s what most people thrive on when they are shaping their careers. There’s immense room for people to grow and learn, it’s your choice to take.”

Already at 800+ people, Zomato continues to expand and grow rapidly. The team will also be beefed up and hiring shall continue. However, of all the things that makes one want to work at Zomato, love for doing great work shall always top the list.

“As we plan to strengthen our team to 1300 people from our current 800-plus member team this year, we’re focused on hiring people ready to go the distance to get things done. From the time we made our first hire, we’ve made sure that we don’t compromise on the kind of people we bring on board,” Deepinder added.

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