There is a lot to consider when launching a startup — typically first comes the idea and then excitement ensues and a rush to get it up and running. Deciding whether or not to launch your product/idea in more than just your native country sometimes doesn’t even come up. But here’s why it should.
Launching your startup globally from the start is a difficult but very rewarding task. There’s a great big world out there, startups, so take advantage. As a startup based out of Miami, we decided to launch our social media app in six languages from the start. One reason for this was to reach the 101 million Internet users in Japan, of which 17 million are on Facebook and may find out social media solution helpful. It turns out they did and we found a lot of new and loyal customers.. Of course, it’s not that easy. Here are four tips to setting your company up to go global from the start.
1. Hire Appropriately – Think Global.
When searching for people to join your startup, don’t just look for team building skills – look at language as well. Having a bilingual person on your team is worth a fortune for international business. Our team is fully bilingual in English and Spanish, plus almost everyone speaks (or at least communicates in) a third language. If you can’t find speakers, at least try to hire someone who has worked internationally and understands the target market outside of your home country. It will truly help in the long run.
What did we do: We never hired someone without a second language. Even our PR team is bilingual. We also have freelancers that help us with Japanese language in order to better communicate with one of our biggest market.
2. Research the markets.
While the US is a very profitable market, there are other factors to consider. For example, did you know that Brazil has the second largest number of Facebook users in the world? If your startup relies on Facebook as part of the platform, then definitely consider finding a Portuguese speaker. You must find where your product makes the most sense and understand how to do business in that area.
What did we do: As mentioned, our product is most successful in Japan! While we of course focus on the US market, we reached out to other areas to see where Everypost would be a good fit. Using tools like App Annie or Search Man, we knew our users better and learned from our competitors. This helped with SEO and to improve our product.
3. Look at your Competition (and Where they are Lacking).
Your competition may have missed a particularly lucrative opportunity by not launching in the appropriate area or language, so capitalize on their mistake! Maybe your competition is #1 in the US, but nowhere else, so you have the opportunity to be #1 in India or China. Going global from the start is not the norm quite yet and your competition probably isn’t everywhere, so get there first.
What did we do: Our main competitors aren’t in different languages, so we launched immediately in six to have a global reach. We also plan to expand the product to more languages including Chinese, a big challenge since they also have different social networks.
4. Evaluate your Product.
Lastly you must take a good hard look at your product with the knowledge of each market. Your offering may have to shift and change as you launch in different countries – simply based on what that population wants and needs. Think about McDonalds – their menus in each country shift according to social norms. While you’re not offering a variety of Big Macs, you should think along the same lines.
What will we do: We will be localizing social networks in different countries; for example in China, where Facebook and Twitter are not allowed, we’ll be targeting other popular social networks in the country.
The problem with not going global from the beginning is that you may end up missing out on a huge opportunity. Don’t count yourselves out just because your startup didn’t take off in the US – there is a big world out there, so some other country may really appreciate what you have to offer.
Ezequiel Aceto is he CTO and Senior Developer of Everypost, an app that allows you to post on multiple social networks simultaneously. He is an embedded systems developer and runs his own technology blog, Ezequiel Aceto. In addition, he speaks English, Spanish, and German.
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