When going global, start with solving a small slice of a problem and keep building on top of it, say experts
At the recently concluded Techcircle Startup 2014, home-grown entrepreneurs catering to the global markets discussed how they approach newer geographies in terms of sales, clientele, pricing, etc. The panel, moderated by Sateesh Andra, managing partner, Ventureast Tenet Fund, reflected on how some of the participating startups created value and achieved greater velocity in more mature technology markets.
Pallav Nadhani, co-founder & CEO, FusionCharts
Data visualisation start-up FusionCharts, which has 22,000 customers across 180 countries, was run by me alone for the first three years. We are now a 70-people company with offices in Bangalore and Calcutta with no representatives outside India. We operate mainly through internet distribution, channel partners, e-mails and phones.
With so many customers across the globe, prioritising customer's request to provide them better product and service becomes a great challenge. This, in spite of the fact that you have to constantly juggle to keep your standards of quality, packaging, documentation, customer support and language while competing with the global best.
It is extremely crucial to remember that even though you are building your product from India, don't price it like how Indians do because companies from Bangladesh, Vietnam, etc can make it cheaper than you. Essentially, customers do not buy cheaper products but pay for value. We are 10x more expensive than our European counter parts. Also, if you are charging high, channel partners also make more money and so they are willing to sell more products.
Also, always speak to your customers in their language. If tech jargons is not in 'his' language, avoid using it as there will be a disconnect.
Unfortunately, it is very hard to find a good product architect in India. The good part is that there are guys coming back from US or Amazon, Google and Yahoo who can take you to the next level.
Deobrat Singh, co-founder & CEO, Gazemetrix
Started in 2012, GazeMetrix helps brand marketers in measuring their brands' reach in people's lives by capturing 'visual mentions' in pictures posted on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Our clients include 10 conglomerates. Our learning has been that it is important to make the product in a manner that the usability reflects the beauty of the way it works. Performance and scale are also important. For instance, if you are looking at thousands of customers, you must have a product that scales very well. People in the US actually put performance benchmarks and SLA (service-level agreement) contract. Besides, there are legal constrains like the level of protection offered on their data, etc.
Kevin William David, co Founder & CEO, Walletkit Technologies Pvt Ltd
Walletkit, a platform for companies to integrate with different mobile wallets like Apple Passbook and Google Wallet has presence in the US, South America and Southeast Asia with over 1,000 customers. To me, user experience and localisation are very important while going global. Be more culturally aware and sensitive to the markets that you are selling. Also, we have hired sales engineers so that they understand the product and can sell it easily. Lastly, if you are serving different markets across the globe, providing customer support as per their time zones is crucial.
Kiran Kumar, co-founder & CEO, Adepto Solutions Pvt Ltd
Don't think that passion is a great substitute for knowledge about what the user wants. In terms of the design of the product, whether you need a good design depends on whether the problem you are trying to solve is a need or a pain. If it is a pain, people will not lynch you for making bad designs. But if you have competitors then you have to beat them in terms of design.
Aditya Kulkarni, co-founder, Little Eye Labs
We had to convince our customers to pay $500 per developer per year to buy a product which we believed was world class. We had to position ourselves as the thought leader in this area. Back then, Android performance was not a well thought subject. It was just two years old when we started out and a lot of people were struggling with understanding why the battery drained so much. To target the right market in the midst of several developers, we went after the early adopters who were willing to try even buggy products which really helped us at that beta stage. This helped us sell four licences on the day of the launch as they already knew us. We were solving a very small problem of draining battery while using apps which conglomerates like Facebook were facing. It was a very small slice of a problem that helped us reach here.