While browsing the news this morning, I ran into an email that Deepinder Goyal – chief at zomato.com – wrote to his sales team recently. Zomato -which offers an array of value added restaurant services – is one of the shining jewels of India’s nascent start-up boom, with a current reported valuation over $1B.
However, Mr. Goyal is not a happy person judging by the email. Growth at Zomato, like at a majority of B2C start-ups, has been fueled by investor money while the start-up remains unprofitable. The main metric used to justify this arrangement is revenue growth, regardless of bottom line. And it sounds like Zomato may not meet its revenue targets presented to investors in the current scenario, jeopardizing the premise of its growth (and existence).
In the email, Mr. Goyal throws everything and the kitchen sink at the sales force to get them to improve. There are tactical suggestions to meet more people and communicate better with the boss and boss’ boss. There are contrite pleas about how not everyone can have stock options. And condescending titbits about how the folks before the current lot really “kicked ass” (unlike the addressees).
Ultimately what he is saying is – “take ownership”. Why won’t you take ownership, Mr. Goyal is asking. I have built this awesome company and it’s in your interest to make it great. Don’t look for help or training or directions from anyone. Go out, “kick-ass” (Mr. Goyal’s favorite juvenile expression), and make Zomato great.
Making your employees take ownership (while over 80% of them have no ACTUAL ownership) is a tricky task – even for companies who have been in business for decades. This is especially pronounced if your staff grew a thousand times in a few years. Although the money was there for the taking, it is impossible to put in the kind of HR time required to hire people with this special trait when you are on a growth spiral like that.
In the end, the shortcoming in India’s B2C start-ups may not be that they were unprofitable, or Ponzi schemes or intentionally misleading. It could just be that they had access to easy money. And therefore didn’t have the motivation to build their most important asset – people who would take ownership. Exhibit “A” in this case: employee(s) who immediately proceeded to leak such an important email from the chief to the press.
Read the email here.