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Coronavirus has dealt a severe blow to the travel and gastronomy industry

Startups after Covid 19: Who made money and who suffered millions in losses?

05.Jun 2020
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Startupy po koronaviru

The coronavirus crisis has dealt severe blows, but also created stellar opportunities. And several startups were able to make very good use of it, while elsewhere, they're counting their losses, or even fighting for survival. We bring you an overview of winners and losers among Czech startups.

Quarantine and other safety measures due to the spread of coronavirus are gradually being lifted and startups are counting their losses. It is already more than obvious that startups from the areas of travel, gastronomy and investment got hit the hardest. In contrast, the areas of food and drug sales, logistics and gaming are enjoying a massive increase in demand. We chose the winners and the losers of the coronavirus spree.

The winners: Who benefits from the crisis


The show the online supermarket Rohlík was putting on during the coronavirus crisis is beyond belief. And without a doubt, it has earned its place in business textbooks. After the announcement of quarantine in the Czech Republic, the interest in home deliveries of food and toiletries multiplied and Rohlík had to significantly increase the capacity of their warehouses and distribution within a mere couple of days. They also handled the onslaught of people very well - their website almost never went down. Everything worked out great, and thanks to that, sales skyrocketed several times.

A few days later, founder Tomáš Čupr also launched a completely new e-shop "Suchý Rohlík", which delivered durable goods throughout the Czech Republic. And he even used the coronavirus to accelerate expansion abroad. In short, if anyone seized the opportunity, it was Rohlík. And because they excelled in times of crisis, they're now in a very good position to ask investors for billions for further expansion.

Luxusní byt Praha 2 - 107m
Luxusní byt Praha 2 - 107m, Praha 2


In the case of the startup DoDo, the key was a good estimate and timing. Until recently, the virtually unknown company, which provides the so-called "last mile delivery", experienced an incredible development during the quarantine period. It offered its capacities across the market - sellers such as Rohlík, Tesco, Nespresso or Rituals were all using them. And thanks to that, the startup grew by 300 percent year-on-year.

Now it will be interesting to see how well DoDo will do in the coming months and whether they won't face a sharp decline once all the measures have been lifted. So far, however, it seems that more and more people are getting used not only to having things delivered from online stores, but also to using these services to transport things. And that's a chance for the startup to expand further. A great opportunity for investors!

Other winners: Twisto (payment application), Košík (online supermarket), Beat Games (game studio), Liftago (taxi platform), Dáme jídlo (food delivery)

Luxusní byt na pronájem - Praha 1 - Josefov
Luxusní byt na pronájem - Praha 1 - Josefov, Praha 1

Losers: Huge downturns


Not only over Europe, but practically over the entire world, air traffic has been restricted dramatically. States have limited travel options, airlines have canceled flights, and Prague Airport, for example, saw only a few thousand passengers in April. That wasn't an easy landing for the startup Kiwi, which based their business on finding and selling plane tickets. Last year, the company was an absolute star, received a record investment and its value was estimated at billions. But then the big shock came and Kiwi lost virtually all its incomes in a few days.

The founder of the startup, Oliver Dlouhý, admits that it will take several years for the market to recover. According to him, dozens of airlines will go bankrupt and at this point, no one can be sure how fast people will return to traveling by plane. So far, it looks like Kiwi will survive, but its rapid development will slow down and investors will be counting billions in losses. This startup is definitely one of the most affected.


This new, ambitious startup was founded only recently and focused on labour mediation in gastronomy. It was supposed to be a kind of marketplace for waiters, chefs and other workers, from whom restaurants or pubs could choose, if they had a spot to fill. This year was supposed to be a turning point for Grason, and a big expansion was expected. But the complete closure of restaurants dealt the founders an almost deadly blow.

Therefore, Grason completely changed their strategy during the coronavirus and began to recruit workers not only for restaurants, but also for shops, warehouses and many other businesses practically overnight. But the question is whether that will be enough. If this startup trampled by the coronavirus recovers, it can be a very attractive opportunity for risk investors.

Luxusní byt k pronájmu - Praha 1 - Nové Město
Luxusní byt k pronájmu - Praha 1 - Nové Město, Praha 1

Other losers: Mews (supplier of hotel systems), Slevomat (travel and discount portal), Explorio (portal for family travel)

Global extreme: Airbnb

For Airbnb, this was a hit in the bullseye that the company definitely didn't expect. In recent years, the startup has already been struggling with the tightning short-term apartment rental conditions in several cities, and then came a time when travel stopped overnight. Although Airbnb never publicly acknowledged it, the drop in revenue must be huge. What's even worse, it's not yet certain when travel will be at least partially resumed and how strong this season will be.

It is almost certain that Airbnb will survive the crisis, but it will be facing difficult times. After all, the company has already announced that it would lay off 1,900 employees, which is a quarter of their total workforce. In March, they also completely cut off all marketing activities (which go into hundreds of millions of dollars) and the founders will not receive any salary in the next six months.

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