I’ve always said if you lose passion for your business, you’ve lost sight of success.
Every entrepreneur knows product alone cannot differentiate your organisation from the competition. In a commercial sense it’s your personality – your mind – that’s the USP.
The three essential ingredients of harvesting victory in the marketplace have never changed: tenacity, passion and disruption. Triangulate these totems always and you stand the greatest opportunity to celebrate winning.
Upstarts and startups
One of the main reasons we’re seeing the creation of so many fledgling enterprises is because disruption has never been in such bountiful supply, inspirations to transform industries so plentiful.
Youth supplies the tenacity. But what for the drive, that beautiful desire to achieve beyond expectations? I had the great fortune this morning to finish the jigsaw and put together the last piece in this most holy of trinities, in a rather unconventional context: over scrambled eggs and chillies.
Filling bellies in Delhi
I’d been looking forward to meeting Pramod Rao for months. I remember several months ago learning of a recommendation engine for places where, with the benefit of a fork, chopstick, or simply your podgy digits, you can shovel pleasing morsels into your face.
Since before the dawn of summer Pramod has been tramping the streets of London with his eager band of epicurean adventurers gathering up menus in the tens of thousands.
Here in Pod, another relatively new addition to the city’s dining scene, I see before me a young business leader embodying that triumvirate of strengths.
As with any CEO of a youthful organisation with lofty ambitions and significant support from venture capitalists, he takes them once step further by peppering the proposition with a spicy cocktail of courage, strength and conviction.
Pramod heads up UK operations for Zomato. He’s the wandering torchbearer for this dynamic creation which has its sights firmly set on helping internet denizens dine out on the very finest eating houses we can muster.
It’s all about the community, baby
Zomato began in Delhi. You’ll recall I alluded to that in an earlier subhead. But then my fingers sped up beyond my brain’s capabilities and before I knew it another <h2> tag had entered the fray.
I’ve spent time in that city. It was my first taste of India. Indexing anything in the subcontinent takes remarkable patience (1) but having the tenacity (2) to persevere and collate the metropolis’ multiplicity of noshing dens would be beyond the computational skills of even the most analytical of data scientists.
But guess what: Zomato has pulled off the impossible. There’ll be the odd one that doesn’t yet feature but we’re talking handfuls out of a restaurant population in the hundreds of thousands. And it’s only been possible through a great deal of expended shoe leather.
Think walking the passages and byways of London is a tough call? At least we’re talking pavements here, in the main, and only sometimes do vehicles choose them over the Tarmac. In fact London must have been a breeze.
We’re apparently pretty good at putting our menus online; it’s quite a rarity, internationally, for hospitality providers to understand the merits of showcasing a good, old-fashioned PDF for us web wanderers to peruse. Here in this home of pie and mash, my last supper, Zomato now offers 80,000 menus and counting, from a resto stock of 90. That’s a capital achievement in any currency.
With outlets spread across the city, Pod has a proposition that is simplicity in itself. Breakfasting brings variations of divine ingredients paired with those lush, creamy eggs, or organic porridge with stuff like raspberry curd, while delicacies like Thai green chicken curry take over when the clock hands finally get a shift on.
I’ll be back, Arnie – even if they don’t do your omelette namesake.
It seemed right that my love affair with Zomato rooted itself in Pod. There can’t be many more brave things to do than move your pots and pans into a market like London.
But thirst for success is infectious. Pod is passion. Pod and Zomato are symbiotic in their proprietors’ snubbing the status quo in a quest for better things.
Food for thought
Your first instinct is to give Zomato a cuddle. How’s this for adversity:
- Tripadvisor has a dedicated restaurant review section
- Google acquired Zagat and interweaves reviews into Maps
- Facebook’s Graph Search brings you restaurant recommendations by your friends
Zomato isn’t going for Chris Anderson’s long tail, here.
But it is thriving and nascent in a way that only brands powered by personality and dynamism can be. In India, thousands upon thousands have Zomato on their go-to list when eating irons are on their mind.
Their dining habits are heavily influenced by it, and in a Mechanical Turk combined with Pavlovian will, they reciprocate for their good dining fortune by instinctively returning the favour and swelling the database with yet more trustworthy reviews and ratings.
Spend any time browsing the Indian scores on the doors and you realise how much Zomato shares in common with Wikipedia. Though here we’re talking a commercial venture, Zomato to all intents feels owned by its community.
How that will play out here, thousands of miles from where the sense of community at least in a familial context is so deeply entrenched in the lives of the young, remains to be seen. But if Zomato can harness its learnings and adapt to new cultures and challenges, there’s no reason to believe they can overcome that tendency for self over others for which Britain is increasingly becoming renowned.
In the same way as Foursquare and increasingly Facebook couldn’t live without ubiquitous connectivity, Zomato is betting the farm on mobile.
So much so it has already collected every pocketable OS known to Earth (remarkably that even includes Blackberry – because it was once the platform of choice among the TOWIE types in Zomato’s subcontinental birthplace), and it’s only going to get smarter in that space. So Zomato has the tenacity, the passion, and it’s certainly incumbent on disrupting the restaurant recommendation space: but how’s it gaining traction?
Today was the day Zomato started testing newspaper advertising in London. As I write this, a large scale advertising assault on the London Underground is also underway.
But while advertising is optional, mindshare is mandatory. Nothing smells so sweet as consumer recall. It’s halfway to victory. And to get there you need a strong hook.
A meme. A recurrent episode that generates a wry smile on the face of your prospective punter, that begets long-lasting familiarity. Posting reviews isn’t instinctively part of the dining experience.
But among Zomato’s target audience, sharing photos of the food itself, is. Back to mobile. Zomato thrives on Windows Phone. In my opinion that’s Zomato’s platform of choice thanks to the way it plays so effortlessly and usefully with Live Tiles.
And right now, Nokia – new darling of the Microsoft stable – is looking to build closer ties with app developers to get more traction on the OS. I think the time is right for Zomato to capitalise on this situation. Here’s the storyboard of my first suggestion for a viral ad in the making for Zomato.
1. Zomato and the Nokia 1020/1520
Tagline: food magic
Get someone like Heston Blumenthal, the great culinary alchemist, throwing someone out the Fat Duck for taking photos of his dishes.
Then someone with a Nokia 1020 walks in while Heston’s sorting out the pantry. Segue to the food coming to life in the photo – maybe the fish would start swimming, or whatever; and the end result is a perfect photo. So much so that Heston starts experimenting with food photography himself, maybe at a greasy spoon cafe to make the bacon turn into a pig, or something.
Remember I mentioned the whole community thing? Here on Zomato I get the sense there’s a special bond among established users. You want to maximise that loyalty and those close ties. People love to belong. There’s another potential viral ad waiting to burst on to the scene.
2. Zomato goes mouth to mouth
The idea of taking a hundred people with you from resto to resto until you find the perfect place for you is a compelling one.
Hire 100 students from Imperial or whatever, and shoot them following a guy looking for a resto in the city, going up to him each time he gets to one and *whispering* stuff that the viewer can also hear.
Eventually he reaches a fab resto and everyone starts clapping and whooping. The guy goes in and has the meal of his life. Mouth to mouth is catchy, and it’s unusually positioned. Which is just the way my mind works.
You say tomato, I say Zomato
I think Zomato has enough edge to make it big in the food recommendation sector.
Its success is entirely dependent on innovation, and whether the team has enough smarts to disrupt the establishment who are also desperate to lead the way in this profitable sector.
What’s more, it already has a foot in Manchester’s door. Leeds, too. And Scotland can’t be far away. All this while America is untapped.
America, last to the party for internet disruption. It’s poetry, almost. With a sprinkling of passion, disruption and tenacity. That’s why I’m predicting sweet future for you and your Zomato crew, Pramod.