Discovery service Zomato makes headway in New Zealand

Zomato is one of the world’s fastest growing, and New Zealand’s largest, online restaurant search service, with exhaustive information on every restaurant in the cities it’s present in.

The company launched in India in 2008, and then progressively made its way to 40 cities across 10 countries.

In July 2013, New Zealand became Zomato’s 11th country. Within just over half a year, the service has added over 5,500 restaurants in Auckland, Wellington, and Hamilton to its database, complete with in-depth and updated restaurant information, like menus, photos, contact details, business hours, user ratings, and reviews.

Diners appreciate the service because it gives them all the information they want in one place – whether they are looking for business dining options, a perfect spot for a dinner date, or places to catch up with friends at a cafe, get beer, or just have food home-delivered.

Users have a large selection to choose from. As at the time of this writing, 209,000 restaurants and 15 million diners world-wide were using the service.

Restaurants benefit too, getting valuable feedback from user reviews and ratings. “Our hyper-local advertising model also allows restaurants to target customers in their catchment area,” said Sahil Ludhani, Country Manager for New Zealand. “Zomato gives restaurateurs the ability to claim their listing, and connect with customers by responding to reviews and taking constructive feedback from their customers. With over 15 million monthly users globally, Zomato is a highly targeted platform for restaurant owners to market their product to customers.”

“We knew that the smartphone and internet penetration rate in the country was very high,” Sahil said, “and with a variety of competitors in the country, we saw an opportunity to provide fresher restaurant information to users.”

Zomato’s more distinguished competitors would be Posse, by Australian entrepreneur Rebekah Campbell, and Foursquare, the once popular “discovery” app.

According to Sahil, New Zealand was a comparatively straightforward and painless market to break into. Over 90% of targetable Kiwis are active online, which is excellent for an online startup.

“While we have our eyes on expanding into surrounding countries as well, New Zealand is most conducive because of its high internet penetration, and how receptive restaurant owners and users were to a platform like ours,” Sahil said.

The Indian entrepreneur also discovered the truth behind the statement that our country is the 2nd easiest place in the world to start a business.

“The regulatory work has been fairly simple in New Zealand. We realized that New Zealand is one of the most business-friendly nations in the world.

“We have faced difficulties in incorporation and getting business up and running in many South East Asian countries, but it was fairly straight forward in New Zealand.”

In fact, the biggest difficulty Zomato has faced is one that plagues a lot of our tech startups – hiring. New Zealand’s experienced tech workforce is fairly small right now, and big companies like Xero and Powershop are having to spend thousands recruiting overseas to get the skills they need.

“We keep innovating in the ways we hire, and try to bring people on board who are cultural fits, take ownership of their work, and are willing to go the extra mile to get things done. With the right team in place, however, you get the confidence you need to go from a two-person company working out of a living room to having 21 offices across 11 countries in a five-year span.”

Over the next two years, Zomato will continue its aggressive international expansion phase to extend its services to an additional 22 countries.

Sahil did not say if and when other cities in New Zealand will be covered by the service.

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