There might be an ‘accepted’ way of running a business in a country, but there is only one way to build a business anywhere in the world: What we learnt at Zomato
Thanks for all the love for our Lessons from 2015 post a few days ago. There’s one more thing I have to share, and I had it saved for a separate post. It demands that much attention, and would have been lost amongst all the other points in the previous post.
Here’s some context before we dig deeper into this. Almost half of our people are in teams outside of India. We are the market leaders in 18 of the 23 countries we are in, and getting to this point wasn’t easy. I can’t even start counting the number of personal sacrifices our people have had to make to get us there.
We operate in many countries that are culturally very diverse. Lifestyles, motivations, communication – all of these work differently from the perspective of each country. We made sure we were being sensitive to the local work culture, and built Zomato in these markets around such sensitivities. Some of our countries succeeded, some didn’t. Some succeeded because of the product and in spite of the team, and some because of the team and not because of the product. Our most significant markets are the ones where we have a stellar team, and the product has found widespread acceptance.
One thing that stood out for us was that there are some countries that are culturally accustomed to working hard. And then there are some that simply aren’t. We’d also notice a very vibrant startup ecosystem in the former.
People in some countries are very open to candid feedback and confrontational conversations. Not in the others.
People in some countries are very open to constant change. Not in the others.
People in some countries are generally frugal with their lifestyles. Not in the others.
People in some countries push boundaries all the time. Not in the others.
One of our biggest learnings in 2015 is that all of the things I said above are wrong. You can’t generalise anything for any country. If you are an organisation and have built a certain kind of culture, you can always find people in any country who will want to be a part of what you are building. You just have to look hard enough. And look beyond the first few people who will tell you that it simply cannot be done. You have to be a place that’s more than a paycheck for people. We made six-day work weeks possible in the UK, in Australia, and in Europe – all markets where we were told that this cannot be done. It just came down to finding a set of the few passionate people who wantedto make Zomato the biggest priority in their lives, and are happy doing it.
There might be an ‘accepted’ way of running a business in a country, but there is only one way to build a business anywhere in the world – find talented people who aren’t afraid to work hard, and give them a space to live and grow together. When you are still building an organisation – just as we are – don’t be defensive about your culture. Wear it proudly on your sleeve, ignore the naysayers, and find people who have the same DNA as yours. They are everywhere, just hard to find.