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Zomato COO on profitability, drone deliveries and how he hires

Zomato COO on profitability, drone deliveries and how he hires

Zomato COO on profitability, drone deliveries and how he hires
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By Malvika Jain  Aug 16, 2020 5:29:28 PM IST (Updated)

We have, including India, nine other international markets that we are focused on.

Last week Zomato, India’s largest food aggregator announced that it will allow menstrual leave for female employees. Zomato COO, Gaurav Gupta spoke to Malvika Jain, Contributor, CNBC-TV18 about the company’s hiring and growth plans.

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While your revenues have doubled during the last fiscal, there are two consecutive years of losses. Is your business model sustainable? 
So anything that you'll build, you have to invest behind growth. One, of course, has to invest in the right areas. And over the last four years, we've invested tremendously in not just guiding user behaviour but also making sure there is a large delivery network out there, which can service hundreds of cities in terms of delivering food. And that's where a lot of investments are going in.
We are happy to share that our burn rate which is revenue minus costs…. the losses are less than a million dollars a month now and very soon we are going to be profitable. We are very focused. We've been very focused on the last two years, around making sure that while we grow, we do it in a fashion where we are able to make a sustainable, as we scale much further. In that journey, we've come a long way over the last two years to come to this point.
We've become quite good about where to invest and how to take it forward. So it is sustainable. It is possible.
Are you going to hire more people in the near future? 
We continue to invest in growth areas. We have clearly de-marketed those areas, for example, in our product and engineering and tech teams, we continue to hire. Wherever we need to do an investment, we will continue to that.
You have a spectacular academic record, but many people don't. When you are making a hiring decision - would you hire somebody who has a spectacular record or who's highly skilled?
I won't choose any of those to decide who I hire. I would hire the person who actually has the right mindset. If I can see that mindset for what that person should be doing for Zomato not necessarily the role then that will be the right person. Because if you have the right mindset, you can build a skill. You will get to where you want to, but if you don't have that, it'll fail you at some point or the other.
Going forward, what is the roadmap looking like for Zomato and for Gaurav Gupta?
The answer is that we continue to remain very focused on food. We have, including India, nine other international markets that we are focused on. And the idea is to see wherever we can bring these use cases to users, either ourselves or through partnership, we do that. For delivery in India, there is still a long way to go. We have people only eating out from restaurants three-four times a month on an average, the 96 still come from home. If you can enable better quality, cost-effective, more accessible meals from restaurants that will go up. So that's an important vector for us.
In dining out also, we are actually doing more with gold and we continue to grow that while we do other things. And Hyper pure is another vector, which is the raw material business. We'd also continue to grow that.
I think those three vectors - delivery, dining out, and Hyper pure are three key vectors for us. And in the short to the medium term, as much as, I can see right now,  those are the focus areas for us. And we have a lot to do to build them up, given the opportunity we have in the front.
Competition is increasing. You have given us a roadmap. How optimistic are you about being successful? Any specific plans?
Food is a very interesting space. We only breathe in a day more times than we actually eat. It's the second, most frequent activity you do in a day. And so I'm not surprised if other people, other companies would be interested in this space because it's a very frequent use case. The second thing I would say is competition is actually good. We actually did so well because we had good competition in the food delivery space and vice versa. So competition, I think is a good thing.
We are very focused on our mission, which is building the food ecosystem for driving better food for more people. And I think the focus is not, not just to win one day versus the other day. The focus is to stay in the game and keep playing it till the end. If you do that, you will always do the right thing. And you'll come out on top. If you worry too much about who won today versus tomorrow, I think you're spending your time and energy on something, which is not that important.
Zomato has also received approval from DGCA to flight test drone deliveries in India. Are drone deliveries likely to start in the near future?
When it comes to drones or other technologies like that, all of us get very fascinated, it's very exciting but there are two realities in that. One is a conceptual reality of whether that tech works and whether that tech can do what it is supposed to do. And I think that, of course, we will keep testing, but the practical reality that we can actually deliver food into your balcony through a drone is a long way away. There is a lot that needs to be done before that can happen. The food delivery ecosystem, not just in India, but globally is, of course, getting ready for it whenever that happens. So it's a matter of when, it's not a matter of if, I think.
(Correction: A previous version of this interview erroneously said Gaurav Gupta was CEO of Zomato, instead of COO. This has been fixed.)
(With inputs from Aditi Parekh, Secretary, FICCI Ladies Organisation, Gujarat Chapter)
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