Can the lifestyle recommendation engine, Zootout be the Oink of India?

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Zootout is a local lifestyle recommendation engine (not just search) that focuses on recommending ‘specialties’.  For instance, apart from answering queries like ‘south Indian restaurants in koramangala, bangalore’, Zootout can also answer queries like ‘best place to have ‘masala dosa’ in Koramangala, bangalore]

The Indore based startup has currently started with food category, but will soon launch in other segments like- beauty, apparels, sale, events, shopping etc.

If you are still wondering how is Zootout different from Zomato and Burrp, it’s mainly the focus on specialties. 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.zootout

“We at Zootout believe that Scanned Menu’s & Ambiguous Reviews act more to confuse visitors, rather than providing them useful solutions. And so, we are focusing severely 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.

-Oink Oink-

Few days, back there was an interesting discussion thread on Pluggd.in forum : Does restaurant rating really help in making decision to what to eat? and a general reaction was that while services like Burrp/Zomato provide the much needed business information (location/address/feedback), there still is an opportunity to build an oink like service (Kevin Rose’s latest project) for India.

This is what I shared in the discussion thread:

Overall restaurant rating doesn’t really matter a lot – unless its on the extreme and 90% of the time, 90% of the restaurants will fall somewhere in-between 2-4 (in a scale of 1-5),
The typical qn – ‘yahaan ka kya famous hai‘ – i.e. review of menus is what makes it very interesting.
And what you are talking about is what Kevin Rose’ Oink app is precisely solving this issue – i.e. rate discoveries. Do not rate places, rate things inside them.

As far as Zootout is concerned, the team has started on a good note, but here are a few areas that they need to look into:

– Right from the homepage, its not clear whether the service wants you to ‘search’ or navigate. As of now, the experience is more towards search and that’s where they will be compared with Burrp and Zomato. If you look at Oink, they took a radically different approach and stayed away from the turf of Yelp.

– Guides, i.e. a list of restaurants/listings under a certain parameter. But, as a first time user- what is 1 feature that you want me to see? Right now, there are two options – search vs navigate and in between these two, the key value prop (i.e. specialty) seems to be lost.

What is done right?

– Categorization of restaurants (including Road side shop, Mithai & Farsan Shop).

– Overall search experience – I tried some of the popular localities and was quite satisfied with the result, it matches what would one expect in a local search site. Of course, data is a never ending game and one would expect the team to go much deeper in the game.

Brand colors: Unlike several other startups who focus on getting just the product out, Zootout team has done a good job of getting the brand colors out.

Data: The team is collecting good amount of data for each and every listing (how many times the page was viewed, how many times the ‘contact business’ link was clicked etc) which will help them in monetization later.

As far as business model is concerned, it’s a combination of banner ads and services like deals/coupons etc.

Do give Zootout a spin (the service is available in 11 cities) and share your feedback with the team. They are surely onto something interesting, but always remember that the other players aren’t sitting idle – Zootout’s USP could be just a feature for Burrp/Zomato and that’s where the team has to accelerate the brand building process.

Tell us: can Zootout become a destination site for your foodie needs?

Recommended Read: Facts & Myths in Indian Local Search Space [Insights from an Insider]

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