WGS 2018: Two Technology Entrepreneurs from India Share their Stories of Perseverance and Success

  • MakeMyTrip and Zomato are major players now, but only after overcoming hurdles that their founders say made them more resilient

Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO of Zomato, the online restaurant search service, and Deep Kalra, CEO and Group Chairman of MakeMyTrip, India’s leading online travel company, spoke today about their experiences during special ‘From India to the World’ sessions that put the spotlight on this year’s guest country on day one of the sixth World Government Summit (WGS 2018).

Their simple message to the summit’s receptive audience – Don’t give up. Both companies nearly failed in their early years but by sticking it out were able to become market leaders.

MakeMyTrip at one point had to reduce salaries for several workers and moved into smaller premises that Kalra described as “long, narrow and small”. The staff count fell from 42 to about two dozen because of the slashed salaries that were necessary for the company to survive.

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

He 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.

Both Zomato and MakeMyTrip had simple beginnings.

Goyal quit his job as a management consultant with Bain & Company in New Delhi in 2008 after noticing a demand for delivery menus among his colleagues. Kalra, for his part, was inspired to start MakeMyTrip after difficulties in booking a hotel room in Phuket, Thailand.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the World Government Summit 2018 runs from February 11 to 13 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event convenes more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 16 international organizations.

Hosting more than 130 speakers across 120 interactive sessions, WGS 2018 features six distinct forums that examine the challenges of vital sectors for the future with a view to finding the best resolutions for the greater global good. Furthermore, over 20 specialized global reports spanning key sectors and topics of the summit are being launched during the event.