If you are in Delhi area and you haven’t heard already about Foodiebay.com, it is a great place to find, research and review your food choices before you head out to get some grub. Recently we had an opportunity to talk to Deepinder Goyal. Deepinder is one of the founding members of the startup out of IIT Delhi.
Generally I found the site quite pleasing and all the basics are covered. Deepinder says that their biggest USP is the menu for EACH restaurant listed on the site. And I tend to agree. It is really nice to have a glance at the original menu card. Out of the other players in this space, most notable is hungryzone.com, if we discount “everything local” plays like burrp and other community driven local search sites. Foodiebay definitely wants to go where hungryzone is today in terms of features. Hungryzone seems to have larger presence with lot of features like ordering food or make a reservation, done using Zook. What makes foodiebay so interesting is the amount of traffic it is generating as per Alexa in such a short amount of time. Take a look at the following graph. It seems like these guys have caught up to hungryzone already and looking good. I have put burrp & yepme in there to compare the niche play against broader ones.
Generating buzz and staying on people’s mind is everything for sites like Foodiebay. So how do they do it? Deepinder tells us about one such example. “our recent joint campaign with Pankhudi Foundation (an NGO which works with underprivileged children to lift them out of poverty) where we donated Rs 3 to Pankhudi for each new visitor to FoodieBay. This campaign prompted a lot of our existing customers to refer their friends to FoodieBay thus bringing us new eyeballs and loads of funds to Pankhudi.”
I bet junta@foodiebay is working hard on their backlog, but some of the features I would love to see personally are
– mobile integration.
– Reverse IP lookup so that users destination is identified in advance.
– Phone integration so that people can call directly via the site. And it connects the users cell phone with the restaurant for ordering or reservations.
– lot of real or users pictures of the restaurant.
– And a buzzing community of reviewers.
As IIT grads, why did you want to launch a startup?
There is no reason why IIT graduates should not launch a startup. Coming from IIT, we have the minimal risk compared to others because the job market can always absorb us if the startup fails. Also, if you are from IIT, it is relatively easier to generate funds for a startup. Also, the huge student and alumni base provides for a perfect marketing platform to start any venture.
How did you hit upon the idea of FoodieBay?
A food portal was on our minds since quite some time. However, the product you see online is a result of a very extensive study and intelligence on what will potentially work in the Indian market. We are just hoping that we made the right assumptions.
What is your revenue model?
Its mostly advertising based. We are a niche website with a targeted set of ‘hungry’ customers. This is a perfect platform for restaurants to advertise their offerings.
Are you looking at VC funding?
Not immediately. We have some well-wishers (read IIT alumni) who can provide us with fuel for quite some time. Once they lose their patience with us, we will definitely look at VC funding.
What’s your USP vis-à-vis other food services portal?
We are focusing on one city at a time and trying to achieve penetration within that zone rather than being spread too thinly in too many cities. This gives our customers from our target cities the choice of restaurants which no other portal can currently provide. We also provide quantitative ratings to all restaurants which are listed on foodiebay, which help our customers make an informed choice about their next meal buying decision. But, our biggest USP that we have menus for EACH restaurant that is listed on FoodieBay. Our customers love checking out a restaurant’s menu before they go experiment at that place.
Why do you think food services portal is gaining traction in metros?
People working in the service industry in all metros are increasingly becoming net savvy and look up to the internet to provide them with information concerning all their needs. These people are increasingly searching the internet for opinions about new restaurants, menus to order home delivery, contact numbers etc.. this is where FoodieBay answers all their questions.
What are your expansion plans?
We have already kicked off our Mumbai and Pune back-end operations. We should launching these two cities within the next three months. Post that, we have Hyderabad and Bangalore on our hit list. FoodieBay as of now, according to us and our existing customers, is a great product. We have a few other brilliant ideas in mind, but will hold them until our competition wakes up to us.
What was your initial investment for the venture?
Frankly, not much. FoodieBay was more of an experiment so far. With its success, it has become a teenager and is now demanding much more attention and expense. The real investment into FoodieBay will start now
Could you also tell us a little bit about your vision of the site? Today it is a niche local search play focused on food. There are lot of interesting models going forward. Things like Yelp/Burrp or Zagat survey are few examples.
The vision of the website is to be the ultimate food guide for all classes of restaurants. People should be able to narrow down to their choice of restaurants from a multitude of restaurants, get peer recommendations and should be able to leave feedback for restaurants in FoodieBay.
What are the financial challenges? Would you like to share your cost or cash flow etc? Are you profitable? I am very interested in your insights on how startups are funding themselves in these difficult times?
We are a self funded startup. Our biggest cost is marketing and personnel as is the case with most other internet startups. However, we have a bunch of satisfied advertisers (restaurants), who keep us ‘funded’ on an operational basis.
It seems like a site where you are bringing restaurants and customers together. I know you have Menus for customers and I love them. What are various things you are doing to woo more restaurants? Where you getting feeds from? Do you have to pay for it? Any plans of web crawl?
Foodiebay’s core focus is on structured data collection and providing relevant restaurant info to users. Therefore all the data you see online has been collated and digitized by us. Any of this data is not available anywhere else on the web. For keeping the website most up-to-date, we keep an eye open for new restaurant openings on various magazines etc. We also have a field team which keeps approaching unlisted restaurants to bring them online.
Looking at all these players that require users to choose a locality, why not start with users reverse ip lookup? This is a little strange for me. This seems like the must have feature if you want to start thinking mobile?
Currently, we operate only in Delhi. And within Delhi, we cannot accurately use reverse ip lookup. Once we expand into other cities, we will definitely use reverse ip lookup to find out a customer’s city and then redirect him to that section of the website. Same goes for mobile.
You can read more about Foodiebay from our trusted sources here. All the luck to Deepinder and company. Leave them a comments, complains and gripes and they will engage.