ZOOTOUT: A food guide that does serve its purpose
It is normal for a person to get hungry all of a sudden. But when it happens in a place you don't know much about, You will be in a fix. You start asking people about the closest restaurant and even then you may have your own doubts. ("Is it good enough? Which food is the best there? ...") Giving you answers for these questions is what ZOOTOUT aims for. It is a site with a difference. Instead of just thrusting all the data they can into your hands they make an attempt to give you some meaningful data as per your needs. ZOOTOUT's co-founder Mr. Subrat Kar gets chatting with CE.
CE: Hello Subrat, could you tell us a bit about yourself and the team? How did you guys get together?
Subrat Kar: We are three Co-Founders: Sukrat Ray, Manish Vaswani and Subrat Kar. We all have prior Startup experience, and are quite enthusiastic for the adventure- Entrepreneurship. Sukrat is an Engineering Graduate and had worked in TCS for 3 years. He had started a food guide Khaopiyo.com before starting ZOOTOUT. Manish is an MBA and was running a consumer driven discount card startup in Indore before founding ZOOTOUT. I am an Engineering Graduate, and have also worked earlier on a project of an SMS based search engine, and an Egg Specialty Restaurant in Indore before starting ZOOTOUT.COM.
Apart from us Mohit and Chirag are the IT hands of ZOOTOUT. Both of them have good experience in early stage technology startups. They did their MS from Georgia Tech and Clemson University, U.S.
CE: All of you were so sure that entrepreneurship was the way forward for you. What made you take a plunge into Entrepreneurship?
Subrat Kar: Yes, we all were quite sure that we wanted to pursue entrepreneurship, not only for pursuing our animal instincts, but also to contribute in some manner for the upliftment of our economy. Of course this journey is full of risks, but we love to pursue it.
CE: Brief us about your venture? What is Zootout all about?
Subrat Kar: ZOOTOUT.COM is a local Lifestyle Recommendation Engine (Not just search). It is a platform which provides visitors our explored recommendation for there several day-to-day queries, which further helps them to choose the best option for them.
We have currently started with food and nightlife, and soon we will come up with other segments like- beauty, apparels, sale, events, shopping etc.
ZOOTOUT helps the consumers discover the foods and restaurants around the city, also it helps them what to eat out now in their respective cities. Instead of providing menus, we provide the specialty of restaurants. By specialty we mean, what are the famous and tasty dishes in that particular restaurant. Suppose you have decided to have a Butter Paneer for your dinner around the City, we will filter the best search results to you where is the best butter paneer available around the city. We also let the users to put the specialty or famous dishes of restaurants in ZOOTOUT and after verifying it we finally put it on the website.
CE: What do you think makes Zootout stand out from the crowd?
Subrat Kar: The U.S.P. of Zootout.com lies in providing not just information, but also on providing- Specialty. It is all about recommending visitors on- ‘What is good at a particular place?’ The answer could be- ambience, chef, dish, service or any unique thing that that place has. We at Zootout believe that Scanned Menus and Ambiguous Reviews act more to confuse visitors, rather than providing those useful solutions. And so, we are focussed only on providing them information that they actually need, i.e. - “What is special in the restaurant they are visiting to?” We are quite successful in implementing this through our feature Guide. And we must say, we are getting quite positive response from website visitors.
Zootout.com believes that even one new restaurant can have one amazingly tasty dish. We encourage Zooters (we call our visitors as- Zooters) to share only food they like and love. No dislike or comment option is available on Zootout.com. So, we also differentiate Zootout.com by staying Positive!
Zootout.com believes that there is no boundary for good food; moreover, people were never more interested than today to explore global food options, and to discover new taste and dishes of more than a few places. As they say about this century- ‘The World is flat’.
We therefore since very beginning are very clear on our direction few years down the line, i.e. to have Zootout.com in various cities and nations. We aim to encourage exploration, and enable you to discover new foods, locally, through-ZOOTOUT.COM.
CE: All of you had a prior experience in entrepreneurship. Can you tell us any lesson you learnt from the past experience that helped you when you started zootout?
Subrat Kar: In our previous avatar we all 3 founders learnt a lot. The learning experiences are coming from Marketing, Sales, Building a good team for Startup, Building a good product for customers what they actually need. So combination of all these things put on a single table of ZOOTOUT.
CE: What does Zootout give for its customers?
Subrat Kar: Also users can either search for their preferred restaurant/cuisine in a specific place using the search box or browse through place listings across various categories like restaurant, bars, cafe, lounge, pub; various cuisines like North Indian, Chinese, desserts, fast food, continental; or browse places on the basis of service offerings like dine-in, air-conditioned, home delivery, take away and others.
As a Zooter you can use Zootout.com for variety of reasons-
•Discover the place where you’ll get your desired Dish.
•Find out the Specialty Dish that you’ll get at place you are about to visit.
•Share / Love / Like food or drink, and make your contribution in making suggestion/recommendation of Zootout.com, better.
•Follow Food Experts / Personalities / Friends, to discover what people like where, and what are they talking about.
•Most importantly, Guide. It helps Zooters to get most useful, relevant and updated recommendations.
In near future we are coming with some cool products and services for our users.
CE: Which has been your greatest driving force in the venture?
Subrat Kar: The product and the concept are two things which help us to reach at the peak point. And also user’s feedback and their suggestion help us a lot.
CE: What can we expect from Zootout in the future?
Subrat Kar: We are launching our services in Beauty and Fitness, Shopping, Deals and Discounts, Events and Sale. We will launch all these services one by one. It will take us a couple of months to come up with all these services. In the deals and discount section, we will not sell any deals or coupons; we will only show the real time deals and discounts around the city to the consumers.
Also we are coming with cool Mobile apps, which again will be a great product for us. We are working on some coolest technologies like QR codes, NFC technologies in our mobile domain.
CE: Have you adapted any particular marketing strategy so as to make your mark in an industry that is already crowded?
Subrat Kar: We believe one thing, if your product is good and worth to users then people will love to use it. And yes in our case users not only like our product but they just love to use it. We are getting a good response on it.
Right now we haven’t spent any money on marketing; all the marketing and promotions are being done with batter and through viral.
CE: What was the biggest challenge you faced along your journey?
Subrat Kar: Challenges are many in an early stage startup. Building a best team for a Startup is the biggest challenge and also we are facing the same thing. As right now Indore is our product development center, so most of techies from outside of Indore don’t take much interest to relocate here.
CE: Can you list out the top three tips you’ll give for a budding entrepreneur?
•First tip: If you are going for starting up after churning out
from College and not sitting for Placement, first make a
sustainable model in your business where you can get at least some
money out of it. Because there are so many people behind you who will
always poke you “what’s going on in your startup", even you have to
answer this question to your Mom and Dad always. Just sustain yourself
during starting up.
•Second tip: Follow your dream and passion. Some
engineering students in college days are confused whether they should
go for job for some years or go for an MBA. My advice to these
confused buddies are " Go for starting up if you have plans to start
company in future, start yourself by borrowing money or follow the
"Jugaad" strategy, don't wait to earn some money or after MBA to start
company. Don't do this mistake. It is the right time for starting up"
•Third Tip: Always listen the "Gyaan" from public, but never implement
these things. Do all the things by your own, discuss with your team
and your mentors.
I think being an engineer enables you to think about the world around you in ways which others can't, and that gives you an advantage in solving problems and building things which can help make the world better.Shiladitya MukhopadhyayaRasilant Technologies