society

Indian startup pioneers share mantra of success

Zomato and Makemytrip founders talk about weathering the storm of failure

Staff Report
15:12 February 12, 2018
Deep Kalra and Deepinder Goyal

Dubai: The founders of two successful startups had a simple message on the second day of the sixth World Government Summit: Don’t give up.

Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO of Zomato, and Deep Kalra, CEO and group chairman of MakeMyTrip, shared their experiences during special sessions titled ‘From India to the World’.

Zomato is an online restaurant search service while MakeMyTrip is India’s leading online travel company. Both companies nearly failed in their early years, but stuck it out to eventually become market leaders.

MakeMyTrip at one point had to reduce salaries to keep the company afloat and moved into smaller premises that Kalra described as “long, narrow and small”. The staff count fell from 42 to about two dozen.

Kalra believes the experience “made his company stronger”.

“When your resources are thin and your survival is at stake, you come up with solutions that you can never come up with when you have money,” he said.

“When you try to do something new, it’s got to be all or nothing.”

Kalra noted that it was normal for today’s tech successes to have gone through hard times in their early years and pointed out that like MakeMyTrip, Zomato too “had some really tough moments.”

Zomato’s Goyal, whose session followed Kalra’s, confirmed that such had been the case, but he too learnt hard lessons from the experience.

“If you start something, just stay at it. Don’t give up. We came close to not having money to pay salaries,” he said.

Asked what governments should do to help startups thrive, Goyal said they should stand back and let companies solve their own problems.