Founded by Deepinder Goyal in 2007 and headquartered in New Dehli, Zomato is a relatively young restaurant search and discovery program setting its sights to grow into a company on par with larger brands such as Yelp. As of today, the company boasts a collection of 10,000 cities in over 20 countries. Such expansion, though, has brought about the necessity for many mergers.
Zomato is very much the Facebook of food. You can connect with different social media accounts, perform quick searches in a search bar along the top of the screen. The main page contains three columns with the latest posts and pictures taking up the middle. The left allows for customization of your feed and the right displays trends and suggestions. The main difference between this and Facebook is that you don’t need an account to sift through the eateries.
All of the restaurants link to their own company page complete with basic bits of information, including phone number, address, a Google map, highlights and the estimated price based on a rating system using dollar signs. The menu is listed front and center if there is one to be had and is followed by photos and then reviews. Reviewers can have followers, ‘like’ other reviews and leave comments. Arguably the most helpful feature is the green ‘positive’ box or red ‘negative’ box that appears directly before each review so that visitors have a quick way to sift through what others are saying about it. Even so, there are quite a few “positive” reviews that are far from.
The only other section is the blog. In there, the rating system and other aspects of the program are gone over in detail by the Zomato staff. Some focus on business information for restaurants and a few even target the Zomato staff specifically. It’s more of a hodgepodge of information that it is a blog dedicated to one aspect of dining.
Becoming a Yelp contender has been anything but easy. In order to expand outside of its native country, it has had to purchase programs in other countries that were very similar to it. In January 2015, that meant the purchase of Seattle’s Urbanspoon for $60 million. This then opened the American, Canadian and Australian market and officially made them a competitor of Yelp.
While clearly a strong move in the business sense, the absorption of Urbanspoon has been met with some controversy, with many against it decrying Zomato for building a monopoly. Even so, the creators of Urbanspoon don’t seem to mind their big payoff.
If you rely on opinion sites rating local stores, Zomato is worth checking out. Because it is designed like Facebook, using it is incredibly easy to pick up. Unlike its competitors, however, it still lacks a lot of the finesse and coverage provided by sites like Zagat. And, some already say “it’s no Urbanspoon” and are missing Urbansopon already.