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Restaurant Reservation Platform DineOut Isn’t Very Happy With Zomato Founder’s ‘First In The Market’ Remarks

deepinder goyal / zomato
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Startup battles aren’t new, and specially not new to India. While their rivalries obviously are primarily in their domains, a lot of that happens on Twitter as well (remember the whole Housing Rahul Yadav fiasco ?). Well, a similar battle is now taking place in the restaurant reservations domain, and this time, its Zomato which has been put out on target.

Zomato, as you’d remember, quite recently unveiled its own table reservation platform named ‘Zomato Book’. And post launching that, CEO and Founder Deepinder Goyal supposedly told Indian Express, that “we want to ensure that we are the first in the market”.

Now that particular statement seems to have irked up DineOut, a startup which has been in the restaurant reservation business since 2012, and claims that they have been the first one in this segment, and are perhaps the ‘largest table reservation service in India’.

And it just doesn’t end there, the startup has posted an entire letter of sorts on its twitter handle, addressing Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal, and detailing how it is wrong in “assuming” that Zomato is the first one to enter this segment. We’ll talk about who assumed what later.

I have my full own perspective on this incident, and will let you know that in a while. But first, do go through this crafty letter :


Now, here’s my take : It is a publicity stunt, a PR practice which has become a fodder for a lot of startups these days. And I’m writing this article not to really highlight one of those many useless ‘Twitter battles’, but to highlight the fact as to how a select group of Indian startups have started to resorting to such PR practices.

Considering that team DineOut has been around in this market for more than 3 years (1300 days before Zomato Book as they say), it is absolutely non-sensical to hype such a statement, given to a media house, which could have had at least 10 different meanings (and definitely not the one taken by DineOut).

Such statements are like insanely common, not just in present times, but ever since we had that big industrial revolution. Companies, all the time, proclaim themselves to be the first in something or becoming the leader in something. And if you are a rival, taking such statements seriously, then you’ve got some serious introspections to do about your confidence into your own model.

Now, since I really like the way Zomato has progressed to become one of the very few, globalised Indian startups and since DineOut is talking about statistics, lets get to that.

Operational since February 2012 (as per DineOut), the company has a presence in 8 Indian cities as of now. Now looking at how rapidly Indian startups have progressed on geographical fronts, I seriously do not deem that number to be hugely impressive, even if you are claiming to be ‘India’s biggest table reservation platform’. DineOut says it has some 2,000 restaurant partners with some 18K listed for discovery. Now compare that, with the 1 Million plus listings Zomato has.

zomato-Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 11.59.38 am

As for coming late to the party, with release of features and M&As across the globe, Zomato’s expansion strategy has been pretty clear. The service first built a massive restaurant listing platform with an even more massive userbase, and is now cashing on that gargantuan amount of data to roll out a slew of services. I have seen restaurants, still not on Zomato, hiring interns to build just the perfect profile for listing on Zomato. And I seriously don’t think it would take Zomato much of time to zoom past Dineout or any other similar service for that matter — if of course the company continues to progress at its current rate.

Now I don’t call this as coming late to the party, its more like coming as that best-dressed late entrant to the party, who has the “potential” to either spoil it or make it an even bigger one.

I’ll wrap this up here with one advise for all of India’s smallest to biggest startups — don’t waste time, energy and talent on writing open letters and indulging in useless PR stunts, lets rather bring in more innovation to our ecosystem — there continues to be a hell lot of scope.

Oh, forgot to mention how Satyan Gajwani jumped in (Times Internet acquired DineOut earlier). I won’t go into explaining his tweet. You can take a look and decide (oh Mr. Satyan, a better language would have been nice):

Disclaimer : The writer is not related to either of the companies involved. Views expressed are not to be linked with The Tech Portal.