Never before has speed-to-market been as critical as it is in today’s economy. The 2010s are the era of rocket-speed business innovation. To compete in our hyper-connected global marketplace, startups can no longer afford a long period of establishing domestically before considering international horizons.
Speaking of rockets, look no further than German company Rocket Internet to calculate the opportunity cost of deferring your international expansion. Founded in 2007 by three entrepreneurial brothers, Rocket Internet has swiftly built a global portfolio of over 75 startups in 50 different countries, using what some would consider a “copycat model” to replicate internet- and tech-companies’ proven ideas in established markets. The startups incubated by Rocket Internet generate over $3 billion and employ more than 25,000 individuals around the world, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
The Berlin-based company’s startups are known for outpacing and supplanting local companies as they aggressively pursue international market share. One such startup, Zalando, a German version of Zappos, moved into 15 countries in just 5 years and doubled sales revenues to $2.5 billion last year.
This rate of growth illustrates the Rocket Internet model in which speed and execution are at the top of the food chain. The three brothers who founded the company understood as early as the 1990s that speed-to-market is critical in determining the fate of a new venture.
This is even more the case in 2014, when global eCommerce products are a mere click away and ideas travel across time zones in a matter of milliseconds.
In addition to moving quickly, Rocket Internet startups are skilled at tweaking their business models to seamlessly fit into emerging market cultures. In this way, the German company provides a blueprint for how to go international — in a swift yet culturally-sensitive way. The startups in Rocket Internet’s portfolio conduct thorough market research and prep work in order to develop a locale-friendly version of their product offerings. Whether it’s adapting to local payment preferences and accepting COD for eCommerce purchases or creating a fleet of delivery trucks in a market where infrastructure is spotty, they find a market differentiator to ensure that their early-bird presence will remain a lasting one.
To compete with companies like Rocket Internet, the best plan for your startup is to get global fast. You already have an advantage over the parrots of the world — your idea or innovation is yours and other companies will need to spend time and money to replicate it before attempting to market it overseas. Leveraging your MVP (minimum viable product) for non-English speakers may require minimum investment at the outset and could position you to fend off the global-hungry copycats of the world.
Mark Scott comments in the aforementioned New York Times article, “Others in the tech industry question whether Rocket Internet can maintain its success rate, as start-ups from Silicon Valley to Singapore look to expand globally as quickly as possible. That could cut the time Rocket Internet has to replicate successful tech ideas in emerging economies and other non-American markets.”
Fast global scalability may be the deciding factor as to whether your startup makes it past Death Valley. The right localization service partner can be an accelerator for your business, enabling you to sim-ship a product or service across multiple markets and speed up your access to early international revenues.
In addition, the earlier you test your product on international audiences, the more complete your build-measure-feedback loop will be and the more globally agile you will become. Immediate global feedback will empower you to create the very best product or service in your sector.
Are you ready to become a global household name? We’ve partnered with some of the brightest and most innovative American startups, extending their influence and revenue streams to the four corners of the globe. If hockey stick-growth is your aim, contact us (yesterday!) to begin formulating your global strategy. You won’t regret it.