GetYourGuide’s expansion in Eastern Europe

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GetYourGuide’s expansion in Eastern Europe

Or in other words, the story of how you start from one place, and build a global presence.

GetYourGuide is one marvelous application, that became quite a must in the age of Internet and Apps. In other words, one can use it whenever travelling abroad. With its help, you can find the best activities to do in a certain city of a certain country. For instance, if you are in New York, one search and you find out what you should do. And even better, you can book tickets. No paper needed. But, before going into GetYourGuide‘s expansion, let’s see how it started.

The Starting Days of GetYourGuide

Born in Switzerland in 2009 as a peer-to-peer local business. Students could log in and offer their services as locals, to travelers. Their job would have been to show foreigners everything that would be interesting around. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way, so Johannes Reck, the CEO, thought that maybe they should change the perspective a little . So, they did.

In an interview, Johannes Reck makes a short description of GetYourGuide. He talks about how he changed the primary idea. He didn’t change the peer-to-peer thing, only the perspective, making it much more professional. Therefore, he thought about the amazing places in that city that were indexed only in travel books. And how real-time offers weren’t known. So, he thought about a booking service.

Of course, you need to remember that this happened in 2009. Back then, fewer businesses were on the internet. It wasn’t really necessary. And yes, GetYourGuide didn’t have an amazing success from the beginning. It took a while. At Techsylvania’s last year conference, Johannes Reck mentions the booking fail. You can find the video here.

Semi-bootstrapping and the beginning of success

Like in every startup story, GetYourGuide has quite the same beginning. The founders and the team used to work in a very small room, similar to a garage, and everyone was doing everything: everyone was coding, everyone was doing the PR, or like a Romanian would say, they were doing everything yet nothing. But, that didn’t stop them believing in themselves and going on with the “all-by-ourselves” mentality. They even had their own website host!

Yes, they kinda bootstrapped, but as Johannes Reck mentioned, it was more semi, because they received funds from investors and even from a bank!

Their success wasn’t as slow as one would expect it to be. In the same interview, he mentions that in the beginning, after the website was made, there were different other websites that took content from them and split the fee.

GetYourGuide starts growing

After two years since the official launch, (around 2013), GetYourGuide collected a massive database of guided tours and activities in 1680 destinations. And made a couple of partnerships with travel giants like TripAdvisor and Kayak. They also raised $14 million in a  financing round led by Spark Capital and Highland Capital, or in other words “one of the biggest Series A funding rounds in Europe”. At least at that moment.

Going mobile

Years passed and things slightly changed. For instance, we do not need a PC or a laptop in order to make a research. We are going remote style. In other words, while the need for smartphones grew so much, GetYourGuide went mobile, in November 2013. Both for iOS and Android. Of course, needless to say that this saved a lot of time for the consumer and that their revenue increased significantly.

Going Overseas

A month later, with 210,000 active users since the launch (European users, to be more precise), GetYourGuide pushed a little more further from home and made the iOS and Android applications available for the United States as well. Of course, the website was already available in the U.S., and the apps were just the next step.

This also involved creating dedicated guides for the US.

European Expansion: going French, Italian and Spanish

Even if they went overseas, it seems that Europe still remained important. Three years after launching the website and becoming one of the most important online Guides, GetYourGuide expanded into the French, Italian and Spanish markets with bespoke language websites.

“This marks a major step towards further developing GetYourGuide’s position as a leader in the European tours and activities market. To support GetYourGuide’s international growth, Frederick “Fritz” Demopoulos, one of the most successful Internet and media entrepreneurs in China, has been appointed to its Board of Directors.” the press release quotes.

Of course, since then, the expansion continued. Nowadays we can find bespoke websites in: Danish, German, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish. Outside of Europe, GetYourGuide made platforms in Chinese, Turkish, Brazil Portuguese.

$4.5M Funding, then $25M Funding – all of this last year to fuel their expansion and grab the market for themselves

Last year, GetYourGuide had benefited from a “strategic expansion funding” of $4.5 million, led by Kees Koolen (former CEO of booking.com), who is now part of the board, and also a nordic-based VC firm, Sunstone Capital, participated in the capital increase. If you want to read more about this expansion, this article is what you need.

That happened in January 2014. In July 2014, they raised their Series B, an investment round of $25 Million from Highland Capital and Spark Capital.

They said all of this was necessary to start a “Landgrab” of new markets.

GetYourGuide in Eastern Europe

Whew, it was quite a journey to go through these milestones of this amazing company, wasn’t it? Well, now we can finally talk about the main issue I wanted to bring up since the beginning of the article. GetYourGuide exists in Europe, in the Eastern side too, but it doesn’t have so many activities for each city.

For instance, if you search Cluj or Bucharest or Brașov, you will find a bunch of activities you and your friends can do. But, unfortunately, not all the deals and options that you have are present. And you may wonder why? Well, first of all, mainly because they haven’t reached every single marketer. And, besides that, we all know that foreigners are much more interested in Dracula than anything else. Though, this is not the biggest problem.

As you might have noticed, there aren’t bespoken language websites in Eastern European. Not Romanian, or Bulgarian or anything. Only Polish, but Poland is economically much more open to the West than the East. So, what can we do? Nothing, at the moment.

The problem is this side is slightly under-developed overall. But, that’s not a problem. With so many tech events coming, maybe the big guys, will notice us too… as soon as possible :).

It will be very interesting to see how they plan to expand in this region over the following years. It’s an interesting story to see how they approached the global market and all the steps they had to do, in order to position themselves as the Top Players in this industry.

Last year, Johannes Reck, their CEO was one of the keynote speakers here at Techsylvania and the audience loved to hear their story. This year we’ll also have Pascal von Rickenbach, one of the top people from GetYourGuide joining Techsylvania as speakers.

More than that, we’re having GetYourGuide as partners for this edition. Considering they are starting to be so involved in this region, we’re hope their plans include expanding to the EE area as well. But don’t take it from us. Ask them yourselves at Techsylvania 2015. Make sure you get your tickets in time.

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