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Zomato was a company that we were tracking closely from the outside. At the time of our initial conversation we were already leaning strongly towards the space as well as the company. Just four days after we first met Deepinder, we decided that this was a company Sequoia should invest in. At the time however Deepinder did not know us as well enough and we had to convince him that Sequoia was the right partner for Zomato.

Deepinder and Mohit tell the story of how the partnership came about.

Deepinder Goyal
Zomato

When we got the first email from Sequoia expressing interest we already had a term sheet from an investor and weren't really looking for another investor. When Mohit asked if we could meet the next day, I gave him a 7 am time slot hoping it would deter him. It didn’t. I liked his bias for action, but wasn't sold just yet. Painfully enough, we met at 7 am the next morning at our office. I grabbed coffee for everyone on my way to the office :-)

Mohit Bhatnagar
Sequoia

We were introduced to Zomato by Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder at Naukri where Sequoia had been an investor. When I met Deepinder I found myself on the defensive at first because this was an entrepreneur who had a competitive offer on hand. Also, since he didn’t know Sequoia well, he was skeptical about our ability to be nimble and agile to close the investment quickly given he was already in advanced conversations with the others.

Deepinder Goyal

Given the stage of the conversation we were at with the other investor, Mohit was the one who had to pitch Sequoia to us, not the other way around. I wasn't initially convinced that they would meet us halfway. There was also a negative external perception of Sequoia at the time, given a lot of 'biased' stories I had heard from other entrepreneurs. I remember telling Mohit candidly that, as far as I was concerned, Sequoia would have to move up from my current rating of ‘1’ on a ten-point scale in a very short period of time to make the round happen.

Mohit Bhatnagar

Deepinder is an ambitious, quick thinking and quick acting founder who always speaks his mind (love him for this)! He had heard some one-sided viewpoints about Sequoia and its working style. And while I candidly tried to allay his fears I also felt it was important to gain his trust by our actions. One way of building that trust was for Sequoia to execute really fast to show him that we are a like-minded partner. We even put a scorecard in place to check his rating of us on a daily basis. Eventually, the rating became a bit of a joke, but he only ever gave us a highest score of 8 out of 10. Well, that just means there is always scope to do better for ourselves and our investments.

Deepinder Goyal

Prior to meeting with the team at Sequoia, I had heard of certain experiences that other founders had with them, however I hadn't heard Sequoia's side of those encounters. Mohit took the time to explain Sequoia’s position in each of those cases and it made sense. I was given to understand that Sequoia wouldn't interfere in a company unless something was going wrong or if someone does something unethical. As long as the team is working to a plan and being consistent, Sequoia would get you what you want and not mess with stuff. My biggest take away from early conversations with Mohit was that there are always two sides to any story - what you believe in is totally your choice and conviction.

Mohit Bhatnagar

Following this we camped out at the Zomato office – going through the rigorous pre-investment process with a large team to complete all legal, finance and business diligence. It was all done in about ten days.

Deepinder Goyal

Yes, they moved very fast. To give you an example - we were in the process of launching our online ordering business in India and were working on a very strict timeline. A lot of our people were already engaged in our current businesses and were stretched for bandwidth. I called Mohit and said, “We need people; how many good people can you spare for Zomato and for how long?”. He immediately sent out an email across Sequoia asking people if they could chip in to help us outside of handling their regular work. A few people volunteered immediately and came over to our offices where they camped it out with us for the next few weeks to give our online ordering business an amazing standing start.


In general, I think the team and the people at Sequoia are their biggest strength.

Zomato
Zomato aims to help consumers discover great places to eat across the globe.
Milestones
  • Founded 2010
  • Partnered 2013
Founders
  • Deepinder Goyal
  • Pankaj Chaddah