Why Zomato's Unicorn Journey is a Case Study in Startup Fundraising?

From navigating competitive landscapes to seizing market opportunities, Zomato's story exemplifies the dynamic nature of startup fundraising. It is a testament to resilience, vision, and the relentless pursuit of growth in the face of adversity.

Shubham Gaurwal
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Zomato Case

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'Never have a bad meal' – that's the promise Zomato makes to its customers. While this tagline reflects their dedication to quality dining experiences, it also mirrors the meticulous planning and strategic vision ingrained in every aspect of Zomato's business model. Beyond mere slogans, Zomato's journey serves as a blueprint for startups and entrepreneurs seeking growth. Our journey through LinkedIn led us to a compelling analysis by Prabhakar Singh, Co-founder of Tremis Capital, whose insights we frequently reference on TICE

But before delving into Singh's observations and Zomato's fundraising case study, let's rewind to the origin story. In 2008, Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah found themselves amidst a lunchtime queue, contemplating the inefficiencies of traditional food ordering. The solution? Posting the cafeteria's menu online, catalyzing a seismic shift in how meals were procured. Thus, Foodiebay was born, a humble precursor to the behemoth known today as Zomato.

How Zomato Soared to Unicorn Status Through Strategic Funding

In the world of startups, the journey from humble beginnings to unicorn status—those rare companies valued at over a billion dollars—is often marked by a series of funding rounds aimed at fueling growth and expansion. Zomato, a prominent player in India's startup ecosystem, provides a compelling startup funding case study in this regard.

The Seed Stage: A Modest Beginning

Zomato's story began in August 2010 when it secured its first round of funding, a modest sum of Rs 4.7 Crore (approximately $1 million at the time) from Info Edge Ventures. Like many startups at this stage, Zomato's future was uncertain, and investors took a leap of faith, unsure whether the company would thrive or falter.

Rapid Growth and Scaling Up

Despite the uncertainty, Zomato experienced rapid growth. Over the next eight years, it embarked on a fundraising journey that saw it attract capital ten times, requiring fresh injections of venture capital every 9 to 12 months to sustain its expansion. Investors were drawn to Zomato's potential and the booming market it operated in, fueling its growth trajectory.


Becoming a Unicorn: The Measure of Success

Zomato's breakthrough came in February 2018 when it attained unicorn status, reaching a valuation of $1 billion in its Series H funding round. This achievement marked a significant milestone in Zomato's journey, signaling its transformation into a major player in the industry.

Evaluating Success: The Value-Capital Multiple (VCM)

One metric often used by venture capitalists to assess the success and growth trajectory of late-stage startups is the Value-Capital Multiple (VCM). This metric, pioneered by Bessemer Venture Partners, compares the latest valuation of a company to the total capital it has raised to date.

Analyzing Zomato's VCM

When Zomato raised $200 million from Ant Group in February 2018, its valuation stood at $1.1 billion. At that time, Zomato had raised approximately $443 million in total capital.

VCM = Latest Valuation / Total Capital Raised to Date

VCM = $1.1 billion / $443 million = 2.48

Within just eight months, Zomato's valuation nearly doubled to $2.01 billion following another funding round with Ant Group. At this point, Zomato had raised a total of $653 million.

VCM = $2.01 billion / $653 million = 3.08

A Success Story in Startup Fundraising

Zomato's journey from a modest seed round to unicorn status exemplifies the potential for growth and success in the startup ecosystem. By consistently attracting investment and rapidly expanding its market presence, Zomato has established itself as a formidable player in the industry. Its story serves as inspiration for aspiring founders and investors alike, illustrating the rewards that await those who dare to innovate and disrupt established markets.

Pushkar Singh

Disclaimer & Note: This case study has been reproduced from a LinkedIn post by Prabhakar Singh, Co-founder of Tremis Capital, and a renowned expert in Debt and Equity Financing, Early-Stage Investments, Secondary Sales, and M&A. Events mentioned are based on historical data as of the specified timeline. If you're a first-time founder looking to navigate the complex world of fundraising, consider joining his upcoming workshop designed specifically for entrepreneurs.