Business

The European fix for Indian startups

Zomato, GreyOrange, OYO—increasingly, Indian startups are looking at Europe as a market to expand. How do you decide if that market is for you?

The story of Zomato’s tryst in Europe isn’t very well documented. Unlike the Zomato of today, which has hunkered down on India and shut out everything else, the Zomato of the early part of this decade had a sense of global ambition about it. It was determined to become one of the rare business-to-consumer, or B2C, startups coming out of India to scale internationally.

Its Europe debut began with a launch in London in 2013, and almost a year later, the company had acquired six companies, four of which were in Europe. Cibando in Italy, Lunchtime in the Czech Republic, Obedovat in Slovakia and Gastronauci in Poland. Speaking to Quartz, at the time, Deepinder Goyal, Zomato’s founder said, “It is an easy win for us.”

But by 2016, Zomato’s European ambition was coming apart.

Almost every founder who manages to raise a round of funding dreams of going international someday. Starting mainly with South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Middle East—but increasingly, also Europe. Flush with capital and in chase of hyper growth, these markets offer a seemingly easy path to scale. But as Zomato’s ups and downs show, these decisions are all too often taken without serious thought. At the same time, there really is a great deal of opportunity overseas, for some. Let’s see how.

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