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The date of July 14, 2021 will remain special in the history of the Indian startup ecosystem. Food delivery platform Zomato has opened for subscription its initial public offering (IPO) of INR 9,375 crore, believed to be India’s largest since March 2020.
The online food delivery platform is spearheading a series of announcements like Delhivery, Paytm and Nykaa which are expected to hit the markets soon. While some criticized Zomato’s IPO for being overpriced, most startup enthusiasts took to social media with praise for Unicorn food delivery.
Zomato’s success story, underpinned by an asset-light scalable model and first-mover advantage in food delivery and accelerated by Covid-19, is a case study for many startup founders and investors today. From its beginnings as an online discovery platform offering digitized restaurant menu cards to achieving coveted Unicorn status and becoming the first-ever Indian food tech brand to go public, Zomato has come a long way.
Here’s a look at Zomato’s 12-plus-year-old journey:
2008: Deepinder Goyal co-founded a restaurant discovery platform called Foodiebay with his IIT-Delhi teammate Pankaj Chaddah. The duo collected menu cards from different restaurants in Delhi, scanned them and uploaded them to a website. “There were blue HTML links; there was no search, but you could use a browser’s search bar to find a restaurant. And as soon as you clicked on one, you get his phone number upstairs, and a bunch of menu cards,” Goyal recalled in a previous interview with Entrepreneur India.
2009: By now, many restaurants had approached them to advertise on the site. The founders made enough income to pay their rents and include restaurants in other cities.
2010: Foodiebay received its first round of funding from Info Edge, a publicly traded holding company with a portfolio of companies including Naukri.com and 99acres.com, among others. Info Edge gave the startup a $1 million seed round. The company was rebranded as Zomato to avoid any potential branding issues with another internet company.
2011: The startup secured another $3 million round of funding from Info Edge.
2012: It was a pivotal year for the startup, not only because it received its third round of funding of $2.3 million from Info Edge, but also when it expanded to other countries, to starting with the United Arab Emirates, then Sri Lanka, South Africa, Qatar, the Philippines and the United Kingdom.
2013: It made inroads in Turkey, Brazil, New Zealand, Portugal and many other markets and also raised a $10 million seed round from Info Edge, followed by a seed round of $37 million by Info Edge and Sequoia Capital.
2014 : This was the year the food delivery platform began its wave of acquisitions, starting with the acquisition of Menu Mania in New Zealand, followed by Lunchtime in the Czech Republic, Obedovat in Slovakia, Gastroauci in Poland and Cibando in Italy. Later that year, it received a sixth round of $60 million in funding from Vy Capital alongside Info Edge and Sequoia Capital.
2015 : This year, Zomato made headlines for acquiring Urbanspoon, a leading restaurant discovery startup in the United States. Additionally, Mekanist, NextTable, and Maple POS have also become part of Zomato. The capital injection also continued with Info Edge leading the seventh round of $50 million and Temasek a round of $60 million with existing investor Vy Capital. Simultaneously, the company also started working on reducing the burn rate and layoffs were a big part of that.
2016: This was the year the company had a few setbacks. HSBC released a report that slashed valuations of startup Unicorn from $1 billion to $50 million. This led Zomato to shut down its operations in various countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Chile, Sri Lanka, Canada, Italy, Slovakia, and Ireland.
2017: The company suffered another setback due to a cyberattack. The records of 17 million users were breached from the company’s database.
2018: It was a pretty good year for the company. It acquired Bengaluru-based TongueStun Food for $18 million in cash and stock and a Lucknow-based startup TechEagle Innovations to foster drone food delivery in India. It also raised $210 million from Alibaba’s Ant Financial, which received a more than 10% stake in the company as part of the round. This valued Zomato at around $2 billion.
2019: This year, Zomato had another problem when restaurants listed on the platform called out the company through the #logout campaign to eat their profit margins thanks to its features like Infinity Dining and Zomato Gold that offered strong discounts to customers. However, despite this hurdle, Zomato saw a 177% increase in restaurant partners and onboarded 73,000 additional restaurants.
2020: Fueled by the pandemic, Zomato saw a 225% increase in revenue in the very first half of fiscal 2020. It reported revenue of $205 million from $63 million (in the first half) l last year, according to the company’s half-year report. The company also raised $660 million in the Series J funding round led by Kora, Tiger Global Management, which brought Zomato’s valuation to $3.9 billion.
2021: It’s been a remarkable year so far, starting with a $500m fundraise from existing investors with Ant Group and Sunlight Fund, reaching a valuation of $5.4bn in February, raising funding of 250 million dollars from Kora, Fidelity, Tiger Global Management and finally the IPO. It is also in the final stages of acquiring a roughly 9.3% stake in online grocer Grofers.