"Our Android program is co-created with Google," says Ishan Gupta, managing director of Udacity India. The company didn't change the content of its courses for India, he says, but it was important to understand the motivations of Indian students. "What is it people look for in education?" asked Gupta. "In the U.S. it might be learning, then jobs. In India it's mostly jobs." And while the Indian economy is growing fast, pricing had to be different in a market where incomes are far lower.
Houzz had to learn that when it comes to home decorating, words can mean different things. "Beach" style in the United States is "coastal" in India. "Traditional" furniture is in traditional Indian style — quite different from the American version. But the "general contractors" label in the United States will be "civil engineers and contractors" on the India site. It turns out many Indian contractors have engineering degrees and are hired based on their academic qualifications.
Both Houzz and Udacity have been attracted to India by the size of the consumer market and its potential. As companies with billion-dollar valuations, they have been able to raise all the money they want in the U.S. market. Udacity has raised $163 million in four venture capital rounds. Ezetap's founders moved to India to launch their company after careers in the United States and have also raised their funding from U.S.-based VCs.
But India has its own expanding venture capital market. Venture Intelligence, which tracks VC investments in India of $20 million or less, reported that Indian VCs made 405 such deals involving $1.4 billion last year, still a small fraction of the $69 billion of VC invested in the United States in 2016.
But as Ezetap's Bose points out, the market in India is relatively young. "Everything is maturing," he says. "Everybody is in their teenage years."
— By Joel Dreyfuss, special to CNBC.com