“Keep shipping!” – lesson for Zomato CEO from his internship experience!

Deepinder Goyal is the Founder and CEO of Zomato (www.zomato.com) – India’s leading restaurant and nightlife guide. Founded in 2008, Zomato has grown from zero to 4 million users a month in 4 years and has become a poster boy of India’s startup folklore.

Before starting Zomato, Deepinder (a Mathematics and Computing graduate from IIT Delhi) worked with consultancy firm Bain & Company for ~4 years which is where he stumbled upon the idea of Foodiebay ( the erstwhile name for Zomato) when he saw a great demand for restaurant menus among his colleagues!

Deepinder is also one of the first few ‘strangers’ whom I wrote to before starting Internshala asking for advice and was pleasantly surprised to find a prompt and detailed reply from him in my inbox despite it (New Year) being the busiest time of the year. And the mystery to why Zomato is loved and trusted so much by its users was solved!

In this short interview, Deepinder shares his internship experience and what he learned from it along with some of the key lessons from Zomato journey. Read on…


1. Where did you do your internship, what project/assignment did you work on and how was the overall experience (in terms of the work that you did, the mentor, and the work culture)?

My internship experience was different as I did not go the conventional way of doing an internship at a firm. Instead, I spent my summer working on building a collaboration platform for a small set of people (e.g. in Hostels at IIT). The idea was to have a place where people can share ideas and files, have discussions (including posting status updates) around a topic or project. While it was not perfectly shaped, it was a great opportunity to learn about the nuts and bolts of designing an online product for the first time.  

2. Are there any key lessons that you learned during your internship which you remember and apply in your work even today?

Keep shipping things! No matter how much you ideate or plan on how things should turn out eventually, you will never get the real feel of the product unless you make things live and take it forward from there.   

3. You worked for ~4 years with Bain & Company before starting Zomato. Do you think having prior corporate experience helps one in starting up? If yes, in what ways?

Zomato started out as a part-time activity for us in Bain & Company and we grew from there. It definitely helps to have a bit of corporate experience while starting up and the learnings are quite different compared to what you pick up during your four years in college. I learnt a lot on the business side of things during my stint at Bain, which helped in streamlining our concept, focusing on things which were more valuable in the longer term and in general, being to the point and answer first in everything we do.

4. One hears a lot about the young team and fun work culture at Zomato; what is Zomato’s thought process on internships? Is it an integral part of your talent acquisition strategy? If yes, in what ways? And if no, why not?

Yes – a young and energetic team of individuals constitute Zomato’s DNA. So far, we have worked with several people who have interned with us across functions and some of them have also joined us full time now. Internships do form a part of the talent acquisition strategy, however, one thing we have noticed is that internships are most beneficial for both the intern and Zomato if the duration is for a longer period of time. With things moving at an extremely fast pace, it is difficult to define a 2 month role for anyone in a startup. Ideally, we look at a 4 to 6 month duration when it comes to internships. The intern during this time is able to explore and grow as much as possible within his/her domain in Zomato and we are also able to make the best use of the internship.

5. The nearly 5 years journey at Zomato must have been a big roller coaster ride; if there is one principle or individual trait that you believe has stood the test of time and you would like to share with students; it would be?

Focus – it has been the one principle we’ve followed in everything we do right from our product to sales to hiring, focusing on one thing at a time and giving it your best shot.

Image credit: – http://m1.licdn.com/media/p/4/000/15f/1d1/0f9683c.jpg

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