TinyOwl battles Zomato to get its clicks, licks

India’s online food ordering space is emerging as the next battleground between home-grown and foreign entrepreneurs. And, Harshvardhan Mandad, 25, the IIT graduate who co-founded TinyOwl last March, is among those emerging as a prominent face in the game.

Segment watchers say Mandad might turn out to be the biggest rival of Deepinder Goyal, 32, founder and chief executive of Zomato, the online restaurant search and discovery service.

Mumbai-based TinyOwl, less than a year old, has already raised Rs 100 crore in a second round of funding for expanding its food ordering business across 50 cities by year-end and to hit the top 10 cities by the middle of the year. It gets a 10-20 per cent commission from restaurants when an order is placed via their app.

On a similar model, Goyal is expected to launch a food ordering facility in the next two weeks. Zomato will, much like TinyOwl, get a pie from the total order value put via its app.

TinyOwl, so far specialising in food ordering, plans to add reviews, much like Zomato, in the next two weeks.

For Zomato, according to company officials, the food ordering would be an additional revenue stream; it would be TinyOwl’s main source of revenue. In turn, TinyOwl could, after rollout of reviews, see these as an additional revenue source, now the main business of Goyal.

“There is a lot of opportunity to monetise assets in our model,” Mandad had recently told Business Standard. He has about 400 employees and the company is looking to hire further, in line with the plan to scale up its business.

Mandad seems an underdog but the start-up system in the country has thrown up many surprises. Relatively smaller companies have emerged as a threat to established giants. That said, the Goyal-led Zomato is well ahead of TinyOwl in numbers of listings, let alone the acquisitions made outside India. However, Mandad has already made his company’s presence felt in the online food space, though it now operates only in Mumbai.

TinyOwl has a little more than 4,000 restaurants listed on its platform, with about 2,000 daily orders. “There are a lot of big and smaller players, and only the really different and unique platforms will survive. We are scaling up our operations and I am confident we could create something different than the others,” said Mandad.

The company founded by Goyal, who had previously worked at Bain & Co as a consultant, is valued at $ 660 million (nearly Rs 4,100 crore), a parameter where Mandad is way behind. Yet, it is perhaps the potential of Mandad’s idea that prompted Sequoia Capital to be a common investor in both TinyOwl and Zomato. On the back of having the advantage of first mover in the food ordering business, Sequoia participated in the latest round of Rs 100-crore funding in Mandad’s company. Along with Nexus Ventures, in the first round, it pumped $ 3 million (Rs 18.6 crore) late last year into TinyOwl. FoodPanda, the Rocket Internet-backed giant in this space, also recently acquired the Indian unit of Just Eat, making a clear statement that it is warming up to challenge the rivals.

So, the Indian consumer might have a problem of plenty the next time he/she plans to order food online. Who emerges winner remains to be seen.


  • 25-year-old Harshvardhan Mandad (pictured), who co-founded TinyOwl last March, is among those emerging as a face in the online food ordering space
  • Industry watchers say Mandad could turn out the biggest rival of 32-year-old Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO of Zomato
  • Mumbai-based TinyOwl, less than a year old, has raised Rs 100 crore in a second round of funding for expanding its food ordering business across 50 cities by year end and hitting the top-10 cities by the middle of this year