This post was first published at Boost Turku’s blog as an encouragement for startup founders having difficulties in taking steps towards the international market. The title was: Take a risk and do something. It was advertised with the words “first step of a startup going international: buy a plane ticket!”
Hope you enjoy!
Where does the process of a startup becoming international start? It could start by talking about it, planning, creating strategies or whatever. But most definitely it starts by doing something concrete.
I decided to take one step towards understanding what’s going on in the bigger market, booked tickets to NYC to check out how the services with similarities to Doerz work over there. Decided to actually book the experiences – mealshares, meetups and others – with the locals. Go and talk to them, ask how they see it and why they’re doing what they do. See how the systems work, what’s good and what’s not. And of course tell them about Doerz. That’s one way of starting the process.
It was one of the Startup Sauna coaches a month ago who said to me: “Tomi, you can pilot it here all you want but the real market is out there, go to some big city and see what it is they’re doing there. Maybe NYC?”. This had me thinking. I sometimes act fast if the idea is good. And that surely was a good one, so there was no point waiting: less than a day later I had my flights and Airbnbs booked.
How was it then?
Well, an excellent experience and I learned a lot. I did some meetups, had for example a dinner in Brooklyn with 14 locals through EatWith, booked a photo tour with a local from one of the sharing marketplaces for travellers. Made some connections, had some more official meetings such as Chamber of Commerce and Finnish Consulate, talked to some investors and met Finnish startups there. I also checked out some co-working offices. It’s good to remind yourself every now and then that Finland is not the centre of the Universe.
Here’s 3 tips for someone looking to do something similar:
1) Go alone. For me the best way to travel in business is to go alone: it forces you to do heavy networking. Normally time spent with the locals is the way to go.
2) Use contacts. Ask your friends, colleagues and network for who they know who can hook you up with someone there. Good people are always willing to help out.
3) Plan enough. While having enough spare time to give the universe a chance to help you out, you also need a solid structure and enough pre-planned activities to keep you sharp. Do the tourist tours later.
founder of Doerz