It is indeed true that learning never ceases for a young, entrepreneurial spirit; but what’s more crucial is that most of the learning essentially happens during a startup’s early years. This entrepreneurial journey only accelerates its pace when encountered by real-world crises. Undoubtedly, traits that defined an intelligent startup in the beginning of the year, have grown to dynamically evolve today.
Although the essence of a startup lies in the kind of problem it is solving, it is also dependent on the resources it has access to. This includes resources beyond funding — strategic introductions and collaborations, regulatory assistance, and relevant mentorship.
While numerous startups have incepted and developed in India, the rate of its entrepreneurial growth will slow down, if technical expertise is not upgraded consistently. A study by the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics said, about 77% of venture capitalists believe that most emerging start-ups don’t have unique business models. Statistically, only 10% of Indian startups build themselves up for success that continues beyond their early stages of growth. What do these ventures do differently?
The most successful enterprises are those who recognized that it is important to cross geographic boundaries and access global opportunities.
What access to an international market, can do for a startup
Shakespeare’s thought of, “All the world’s a stage”, applies to Indian startups in its own ingenious way. Today, one needs to explore the international stage; debut and evaluate a product across markets to get better feedback on how it is being received.
The access of an international market can resolve multiple pain-points for start-ups. It allows them to observe, gauge, and adopt (not merely clone) technologies of the west much earlier in their growth phase and hence, stay ahead of the curve in the following ways —
A. Competitive head start coupled with relevant expertise
Startups that can access global markets in their pre-launch phases are benefited with a competitive beginning, and knowledge of broader market segments. This enables them to understand how countries across the world are combating new challenges. It opens up significant doors for a business both in terms of learning and results, almost immediately.
B. Multi-variant consumer group
Access to broader markets helps one to increase productivity and profitability or both, while experimenting with newer consumer groups. While being successfully based in India, businesses can still explore overseas market segments that might be more adept for their products. For example — Chennai-born Freshworks with 12 global offices and a California-based headquarters in less than a decade, expanded with an aim to provide the best innovative customer engagement software. Another example of a local company going global is India’s most valuable edtech startup Byju’s. With the ongoing pandemic and e-learning becoming the new normal, Byju’s is reaping the benefits with over 57 million students on its platform and eyeing overseas expansion in six new countries — UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Germany with White Hat Jr to provide quality education across the globe.
C. Diversifying risks
Cross-border networking can prove to be immensely beneficial for global startup growth.
Businesses that venture into newer and developed markets are more capable of surviving and thriving through risky winds of crisis. This helps them to spread risks while bringing in the extra dollar value of currency into their income.
D. Rising above silos
Although the pandemic has seen controlled investments towards budding ventures, there is still a lot of anticipation in the global startup ecosystem for ideas that are the right mix of strategy, resilience, creativity, and innovation. By expanding visions, startups allow themselves to grow beyond isolated barriers, and comprehend more sustainable business models.
E. Pilot testing abilities
Cross-cultural synergies provide a nurturing ecosystem for pilot testing business ideas in those markets, which are already advanced in terms of implementation and execution. This ensures that business operations are in alignment with global technology and thereby, adoption is more feasible. Consequently, consumers can too, benefit from products that are technologically updated, and can make life easy for them.
In the long run, early access to evolved markets helps startups to tide over complexities associated with closed geographies and economic factors.
“For instance, the insurance industry in the United States is already well-automated and mature, while in India, it is still picking up and there is still a lot of work to be done. Therefore, for an insurtech startup, international expertise can bring a monumental difference in addition to providing it with the much-needed capital.”
The important question
But to explore unknown seas, there is a need for more integrated platforms that can assist businesses to develop strong local partnerships. This paves way for the required guidance and mentorship which is otherwise missing. Such platforms also grant them credibility that then, ushers startups to reach global marketplaces effectively. Further, having the right access to a network of investors and mentors, helps one to understand the regulatory aspects of the market.
We are transitioning through times wherein technical innovation needs to supersede boundaries to witness success. Digitization, social media advancements, and global e-commerce platforms have already brought us a lot closer to transformations that seemed miles away only a few months ago. Collaborations in the new normal need to be strategized and designed with increased awareness of global tech-transformations. Moreover, accessing international markets also drives India as a country, further ahead into global innovation and recognizes its entrepreneurial potential.
About the author: With over 20 years of experience in product development, business planning, and relationship management, Tanul Mishra founded the Bangalore based, Afthonia Lab Pvt Ltd in 2018 as an incubator that focuses specifically on the fintech industry.