International expansion of your start-up — how?
By Olga Grinina
Going global in tech might be of a great challenge. Going global with a blockchain start-up in the day and age of crypto over-hype might be an even greater endeavour. But if we look closer at some recent cases of blockchain-powered start-ups international expansion, we realize that universal rules of going global with a business are in full effect there too.
First and foremost — you should have a precisely defined strategy. When determining the roadmap for international expansion, a successful company would ask a series of questions and come up with metrics to prioritize. As business coaches would advise, only when 25 percent or more of your business is coming from international markets, it’s time to scale outside your home country. But in crypto-world start-ups are internationally-oriented from the moment the crowdsale is launched. So here we would rather be speaking about determining which markets are most attractive and how to prioritize them. A good way to get a baseline understanding is to look at GDP (gross domestic product) per capita compared to overall Internet population by country. At Revain we took up this general idea of tackling countries with a large number of target customers and high levels of disposable income and came up with the U.K., the US, Asia and European region as our target markets. We opened our headquarters in Moscow a couple of months before the crowdsale and — if things will keep shaping up in our favor we may be looking into opening the first international location overseas. Yes, some might say that one can get a lot done remotely, but at some point you also have to be there. Meet your local lawyers and potential employees face to face, and share your company’s mission and vision with your new team and network, of course. One of the option could be London: it is known to be a blockchain-mecca now, with major professionals in the field based there. And also a great number of hackathons held almost every week — Revain is also aspiring to take part in one of them as soon as we are ready. Networking and getting exposed in crypto-community should definitely be one of the highlights of the strategy.
Okay, you got this — the first office overseas is in the plan for opening. The tricky thing here is to structure global operations and coordinate engineering, product sales, support and marketing. The answer here varies depending on a go-to-market plan in each region. B2B software companies typically need direct sales and support teams in close proximity to local customers. For companies with a direct sales model, you’ll also likely need a sales engineer or two and a marketing partner to help generate leads for the sales engine.
Turning to tech-giants examples that can be a good role-model we might probably pay attention to the stories of Groupon, Fab and Airbnb (in its first iteration). Airbnb learned from its initial overexpansion and slow down in 2013 — it has since executed with centralized operations and a more localized product-driven approach. Twitter’s go-to-market model included two unique strategies, both targeting Japan. First, through a joint venture in Tokio they created an entirely different service specifically targeted for the Japanese market. It even started charging for premium services in early 2010, years ahead of any business model in the U.S.
‘Think globally, act locally’ perfectly fits when choosing a strategy for a blockchain start-up and Revain is a working-model example. With a core local team and a small number of outsourced contributors, we aspire to be relevant internationally — gradually moving along our roadmap and bringing the disruptive vision to the global review market.