It’s 9 am, and we’re ushered into a meeting room. Ashish, our friendly recruiter, informs us that ‘Deepi’ will take our first session. This is unprecedented, he says.
Enters Deepi. Crowd goes wild. At least my brain cells do. I gear up for an impassioned speech by one of India’s most prolific founders.
Much misinformed, I am. This session isn’t about him. It’s about us, the seven mint-fresh business school graduates, our passions, motivations and… our hidden talents (more on that later).
Deepi, now joined by Steve, asks us what we wish to do at Zomato. I go first. “umm…I want to do sales or marketing…”, I muster in absolute vagueness. Thinking through answers hasn’t been my strong suite. But I am extremely passionate about branding. To that end, I went back to school to make a ‘switch’ from finance.
Anyway, one thing leads to another, and 5 minutes later, I am now projecting my fledgling web-comics Instagram handle on a gigantic LED screen. Standing beside the now almost life-size, poorly drawn stick-figures, I awkwardly explain my ‘art’ and my juvenile sense of humour. It’s not as awkward as I’d like to believe.
The next thing I know, I am sitting with Gaurav (GV), the cola veteran, trying to come up with Zomato’s next viral campaign. Is this a dream? I can’t tell (yet). My B-school buddies too have been mapped to their interests, starting their careers (2.0, because ISB) in the functions of choice. Deepi himself hand-picked projects for each one of us.
I’ve been here a month now. While it’s (really) too early to make large, sweeping conclusions about Zomato, I’ve witnessed some rather remarkable things that have helped shape a very positive first impression. It’s not the norm for a company’s founder to chit-chat this freely with new recruits, let alone have them pick projects or host them at home!
I’ve worked in start-ups before, but Zomato’s “vibe” is unique. And the vibe attracts its tribe. Between the oh-so-dramatic agency pitches and internal ideation sessions, I’ve seen some of the most creative minds at work. Not just marketers, but also the product folks, the payments team, (surprise, surprise!) the HR… – there’s a bunch of motivated ideators wherever I look.
As a recent MBA, I had almost begun finding comfort in Excels and PowerPoints, until I joined Zomato. Here, it’s about big ideas and execution. About capturing aha-moments on pen and paper. On keeping it real and walking the talk. In that, Zomato is as startup-y as it gets. There’s extreme ownership of work (not surprising that multiple copies of a book by the same name are housed in the office library). Oh yes, there’s a library – a mini-Zen room – in the middle of the office. With a curated list of some of the most inspiring books of recent times.
We are encouraged to read, to talk to folks and gain perspective. This is certainly unlike the ruthless “real world” our professors at B-school warned us about. A utopian finishing school to my terminal degree – I’d say. Only a month in, but I feel a sense of belonging to this place.
Well begun, but only 1% done.