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Author: Sam Volkering

Please note, we do not provide investment advice.

My wife and I recently moved our family to Portugal. We left the UK to try and get a bit more of our former “Australian lifestyle” back (I’m Aussie by birth), but without being too far away from work in the UK.

In short that means a place with a lot more sun, close-by beaches, and a much more outdoor-focused lifestyle. Portugal ticks all those boxes.

In the short time we’ve been living here, there’s a few adjustments we’ve needed to make. Little things like figuring out the banking situation, where and how to get around, local public transportation, utilities, and services to connect with, all the things that you need to get familiar with, quickly, to ensure you settle into life in a new country.

For example, I was looking to get a cab the other day (I needed to drop my car off for a service) and I used an app called Bolt. I’ve never come across it before, not in the UK at least. In London, Uber and Gett are the dominate players. Bolt, however, is an Estonian company that’s apparently popular over here in Europe as a rival to Uber. I used it, it was great, easy, quick, everything you want from a ride hailing application.

Then I looked a little deeper into the company. Bolt was founded in 2013, on a shoestring budget by a 19-year-old Estonian named, Markus Villig. After a funding round in early 2022, Bolt carried a valuation of US$8.4 billion . Not bad for a company now only just 10 years old.

I’ve seen a lot of busses about with “Flixbus” on the side of them. You can’t miss them, big green, bright buses. Again, I’d never come across these in the UK. Megabus is everywhere in the UK, but not Flixbus.

However, I’ve come to discover as I looked a little deeper, that Flixbus (a German founded company) now owns Megabus in continental Europe. And Flixbus – a discount bus travel company – itself is only about 12 years old and huge across Europe.

After a funding round in 2021, FlixBus (FlixMobility actually, which is the parent company) carried a valuation of over US$3 billion . It might not necessarily be that high today. But for a 12-year-old company that too is quite a speedy rise to “unicorn” status.

Bolt and FlixBus are just two examples of many that demonstrate the EU is a powerhouse of opportunity for the right kinds of companies to launch, flourish and grow into giants of industry.

In fact, there’s a strong argument the EU is the perfect place for early-stage investment, better than the US and possibly anywhere else on the planet. The reasons for this come with the unique makeup of the EU. It is a melting pot of diverse cultures, a massive population of over 448 million, and a GDP that exceeded €14.5 trillion in 2021

While the GDP might not quite be as large as the US (US$23.3 trillion / €21.7 trillion) it’s still a lot of money to go around, plus there’s a lot more people, meaning a much larger market to serve.

With 27 member states, each with its own unique consumer preferences and demographics, the EU allows small, agile businesses to scale quickly and find the perfect market fit.

Another example of a company that harnessed the EU’s market potential at a rapid clip is Zalando, a German e-commerce giant specializing in fashion. Founded in 2008, Zalando expanded rapidly across Europe and became one of the continent’s leading online fashion retailers. They now serve over 50 million active customers generating over €10.3 billion in revenue.

For a company only started in 2008, even after their stock price took a significant hit in 2022, the company is still worth over €6.7 billion and is a prime example of how fast companies can scale.

Another hugely successful EU unicorn is Adyen. Adyen is one of those companies that is everywhere, but most people have never heard of.

Adyen is a Dutch payment processing company, a true FinTech. Founded in 2006, Adyen has grown to become one of the world’s largest payment service providers, processing transactions for global giants like Airbnb, Netflix, and Uber.

The stock of late has been in the trenches, seeing its stock price crunched over weaker earnings than market expectations. Even still, having also just secured a banking licence in the UK, and still carrying a market valuation of over €23 billion, for a company that’s only 17 years old it’s another prime example of innovation in the EU and huge market potential.

Bolt, FlixBus, Zalando, Adyen are a few of the hugely successful stories out of Europe. But we could list hundreds more…Spotify,, N26, Klarna, Vinted, ManoMano and Ledger are just a handful more.

A massive population, strong GDP, thriving tech ecosystem, crowdfunding platforms, cultural diversity (plus the examples listed above) all prove the potential for growth and opportunity out of the European market, and for investors looking for that extra edge to their portfolios.

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