Spotlight on Internationalisation - CELIS
In Interview with: Charles H. Gayot, CTO at StepUp Horse ApS
First step towards internationalisation. Young start-ups struggle in establishing an internationalisation strategy, based on the available resources. What would be your tip to them, to maximise the impact of their actions?
Start networking abroad early. This takes time, and you will uncover opportunities along the way. It’s never too early to start. Work towards a prestigious collaboration or finding the perfect country manager that will give you a stronghold in your next market.
Hand-on experience. Could you please summarise the internationalisation activities of your company in few sentences?
Because our team has always been international, all key team members are listening to opportunities in their home countries. Just yesterday, thanks to our Lithuanian team member, we agreed on a partnership with Lithuania regarding fundraising. We have a subsidiary in France to fully take advantage of this market, have partnerships in many European countries: Portugal, Great Britain, France and Lithuania and work directly
with companies in Belarus, India, Spain, Hungary and Germany. We aim for finding the best people to work with, no one is really far in Europe! This is also encouraged by many European grants that force cross-border collaboration. And it is for the best of the company. We are currently recipients of three such grants (and had another 3 in the past) and they are wonderful opportunities to accelerate your business, and open doors to other markets. An example: a few weeks ago, our Spanish partner referred us to a Hungarian company that
was looking for a speaker for an event held in Czech Republic. Result: free visibility in a market we do not know anyone. Before that, a EIT Health program brought us to Lisboa where we met the doctors who became the main partners in our project. What made the difference? One of our teammate was talking Portuguese.
In summary, based on your experience what is the ‘secret sauce’ for successful internationalisation?
When resources are limited, and you know that it is a question of survival for your company: look for the perfect team member to take care of it. Find someone that can do exactly what you need in your target market and is good networker. You need to onboard him or her fully so that he knows everything about the company. After all, he/she’ll try to do the same aboard.