Growing Within The European Union: 3 Practical Lessons Learned During Soft-Landing

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The difficulty to scale within Europe is one of the main reasons why China and the US are still ahead when it comes to startups and innovation. However, the EU has already developed a few initiatives to deal with this problem.

Soft-landing, a project under H2020, is a perfect example of that. The project has sent over 290 startups & ecosystem builders to business missions abroad during the last two years. With that, the main goal was to build connections and share knowledge to facilitate the growth of tech companies in different countries within the EU.

In this blog post, the Dutch partners of the project, Crosspring, and uGlobally, share three of the most important lessons learned during the project.

#1 If You’re Asking When You Should Think About International Markets, You’re Already Too Late

Deep inside, we all know that the European countries have relatively small home markets and that it is a must to think international at some point. The main question companies ask themselves is “when is the right time to expand abroad?”.

The most common situation we see in Europe is that companies prefer to conquer their local market first, and only then start looking at new countries. The problem with this approach is that companies are not even aware of what is happening in different markets before reaching their maturity level. This lack of awareness can result in:

  • Your company making the same mistakes that your (international) competitors already did. If you want to accelerate your growth, having this knowledge should be one of your top priorities.
  • International (and stronger) competitors entering your country and taking you out of the market. If you are not aware of who they are, how are you going to compete in case they go to your country?
  • Losing great market opportunities. It’s common to see companies that find a much better market fit in international markets. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Therefore, it doesn’t matter at which stage you are – idea, validation or growth, you must always be aware of what is going on in different markets. It’s not an option anymore – it is a matter of survival!

#2 Validate Like A Startup

If you followed the Lean Startup Methodology to develop your company, you know the importance of validating things before wasting unnecessary resources. Believe me, you don’t want to open an international office and hire 5 people just to learn that your product doesn’t fit the new market.

The beautiful part is that there are a few strategies you can apply to validate new markets and avoid these headaches:

  • Validate the market interest by creating a localized smoking test
  • Immerse yourself in the market for a short period (business mission/soft-landing programs)
  • Hire independent salespersons as a freelancer

These few ideas can already give you great insights into the local market needs, as well as provide you with potential customers with low risk and low costs.

#3 Break Local Barriers With The Support Of Partners

Working with strategic partners is a great call if you want to save time and decrease your risks even more. The ideal partner will really depend on your company and what you are looking for in a new market. A few examples are:

  • Local service providers: marketing & sales agencies, legal and tax advisors, etc.
  • Distributors / Resellers: companies that can incorporate your product/service into their offerings.
  • Accelerators, investors, and other ecosystem builders.

If you are an early-stage company, you will probably benefit more from a partnership with an ecosystem builder who can also support the development of your company.

The Dutch partner of the project – Crosspring, for example, invests in early-stage startups from different countries and help them set up in the Netherlands. Not only that, but the incubator can also support their growth in other markets by opening their network of partners around the world. If you want to get in contact with Crosspring for a partnership or you want to open up the Dutch market for your startup, you can send them a message via www.crosspring.com.

If you are more advanced, on the other hand, you will probably benefit from service providers and strategic partnerships that can ease your way into the new market.

A Platform To Support Your International Growth

uGlobally, one of the organizers of soft-landing and a portfolio company from Crosspring, is currently developing a platform based on all the learnings from soft-landing.

The go-global-platform will be able to create an internationalization analysis of your business after evaluating important information about your company. This analysis will provide you with essential insights to develop and implement your international expansion, such as:

  • International readiness & internal preparation
  • How to choose a new market based on your profile
  • List of validations before entering the new market
  • Insights on how to validate these points
  • Suggestions of lean strategies to enter the market

In addition to this analysis, the platform will also provide trustable local networks that can help you implement your strategy locally.

uGlobally is already running pilots with real users to receive feedback from the market. You can register to be part of their early-users at this link: https://uglobally.com/go-global-platform/.

 

 

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