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On your way to global domination: 4 steps to take your startup international

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 | By Elsita Meyer-Brandt

In today’s global marketplace, taking your startup international is imperative to maximise impact and success.


In fact, most startups by their very nature are born global, but establish themselves first by building a local base.


Expanding your reach to other markets gives you access to millions more customers and can lead to stellar growth and profits.


But going global is a daunting task for big and small companies alike. When Eventbrite expands into new markets, there are four key steps that we take to give us the best shot at getting it right.


Of course, each market is different, and we take a test, iterate and optimise approach, but there is a long journey before we even get to the test phase.


Step One: Research

The first stage is all about researching what opportunities are out there for you. Seeking the best opportunity includes evaluating where you see traction, and where customers have a need for your product or service.


But what if you have traction in many markets? While Eventbrite sells tickets in 190 countries, we’ve chosen to concentrate on a small fraction of those. This allows us to focus on what matters in these markets, and be smart about our expansion.


To decide which markets will deliver the best opportunities, it is important to look beyond the current size of the market and consider past development and more importantly, future potential. By analysing macroeconomic data such as population, GDP, ecommerce and technology penetration, you can glean valuable insights into the prospective growth of a market.


Remember: you’re not simply picking the biggest market, you’re picking the one with the most opportunity for growth.


Step Two: Prioritising


When you’ve chosen the key markets you want to expand to, you need to prioritise.


International expansion is far more than just creating a local website – if you want to be successful, you need to invest a substantial amount of time and resources.


This type of investment means you can’t enter all the markets you’ve identified at the same time, so pace yourself. Your first few international launches will be a kind of “trial”, so it’s wise to pick markets that are big enough to give relevant results and impact, but small enough to leave room for mistakes.


Step Three: Preparation


Now you’ve picked your next market, it’s down to the nitty-gritty of planning the market launch.There are a number of key things that you need to have covered to ensure this is a success.


1. Analyse the data

Look over all the data you collected during your research and analyse it for key insights. This will help you get a better understanding of the market and what the key factor for success will be.


2. Ensure product-market fit

Identify the needs of the market and determine what you’ll need to do deliver a minimum viable product (MVP). You might need to do some minor tweaking to your current product or you might need to do quite a lot, so this is where you need to weigh your priorities against the resources needed to achieve MVP.


3. Localise, localise, localise

International expansion is more than just creating a local website in the local language and currency. Your entire offering needs to meet the expectations of your market. For example, do you offer all the preferred payment options? Again you will need to weigh up speed, accuracy and cost.


4. Get your admin in order

Before you start selling your product, you need to make sure you are complying with all the rules and regulations of the country and have all the administrative requirements in place for things like taxes and accounting.


5. Create a market entry strategy

Make sure you have a clear market entry strategy and outlined what you need to execute it. It is especially important to think about how many staff you’ll need, which positions and when. Talented people are important but expensive, and the hiring process can take a while, so try to leverage resources and knowledge across different markets and teams. You’ll also need a marketing strategy that will allow you to get the word out quickly and start making sales.


Step Four: Realisation


Finally it’s time to make it happen. Be sure to set your new team up for success by finding a suitable office, securing access to the infrastructure they need and recruiting where and when support is needed. Once you’re on the ground, it’s time to hustle.


Be scrappy – don’t be afraid to make mistakes, just make sure you document them and learn from them. Take your learnings from each market and apply it to the next. That way you become more efficient and continue to evolve your international strategy as you grow.


Elsita Meyer-Brandt is International Expansion Manager for Eventbrite.