The world is your oyster

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The world is your oyster

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Start local, think global. There’s much evidence to show that this mantra works. Facebook did it. Netflix did it. Most companies that have been successful expanding internationally did it.  Even the likes of Himalayan Java and CloudFactory, here in Nepal, have been able to do it. This ubiquitous framework for growth has been the much raved about philosophical foundation for building a brand that succeeds across borders.

But with the advancement of technology, the idea of crossing of boundaries— implied in that aphorism—has become almost a moot point: for the old realities have been distorted by the emergence of the virtual world. The earlier framework asked entrepreneurs to first think of a local solution to a problem they were providing solutions for before they went global. It’s not that the framework does not hold true today, but we have arrived at a new reality where entrepreneurs can now go beyond that framework and think about going global right from the get-go. The world is literally your oyster.

Even so, even in such a reality, we still hear much talk about how Nepali tech startups cannot attain the standards of the global market because we are still a developing country, and about how we are not technologically advanced enough to be able to compete in the global market. Such talk can sow seeds of doubt in our tech entrepreneurs about whether they have what it takes to go global right away. But although going global might be challenging, it is not impossible.

 

There is potential

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If you look closely at the Nepali tech sector, you’ll find it speaks of the potential Nepali startups have for entering the global market. The plethora of tech companies that have been producing quality software that can compete in the global market should be proof enough. For instance, Grepsr, an online web-scraping tool that extracts B2B data from the web to create business value for companies, started in the global market right away and has served close to a thousand clients, including giant companies such as Target, The Boston Consulting Group, GE Capital, Twitter and Groupon. And all that within just four years. MachPay, which has based its core office in the US, is an online software solution developed in Nepal for secured money transfer operation throughout the globe. Vidinterest, an online video curation site, boasts 10,000 daily visitors from all around the world.

Some Nepali apps built for the global market are also doing pretty well. Crazy Circle Run, a game developed by Karuwa Apps, was featured in Google’s Top New Free Games chart, while Picovico, an app that “automatically creates beautiful video slideshows from user photos, text, video clips & music with pre-designed professional video styles” got featured in the Top 20 startups of TheNextWeb (TNW) Conference Europe 2016, in which more than 200 other startups participated.

“I think Nepal has the potential to do well in the global market. For example, I know a student from Pulchowk Campus who got a patent on airplane navigation, and a famous airplane company is apparently approaching him,” says Gopal Chitaure, cofounder of Karuwa Apps. He is referring to Ruchit Kumar Regmi, a graduate of Pulchowk Campus and a scientist who was awarded a patent for the invention of a ‘Pilotless Aircraft for Commercial and Military Use’ by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

 

What it takes

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While these cases might inspire entrepreneurs to think about playing the global market, entrepreneurs must first internalise the fact that the fundamentals of global markets are different from that of the local ones, and that you must make the extra effort to minimise the room for errors. “First, you have to build a global product,” says Amit Chaudhary, cofounder of Grepsr. That’s a given. You cannot expect to get into the global market if your product or service will not provide a global solution. “When we started, we wanted to cater our services to companies across the globe,” adds Chaudhary.

And you must be ready to outperform the best companies out there. “When you decide to go global, you are competing with everyone else in the world. So attention to detail becomes crucial,” says Chaudhary. That care should be applied in every aspect of how you do business: how you build the product, how you market and sell it and how you provide customer satisfaction. The major focus should always be on quality, and entrepreneurs cannot compromise in this regard. “Most of our developers release their products without testing them properly and that leads to bad customer response,” says Chitaure. “If you want to make products that will work in the global market, make a quality

product.”

You Cannot Expect To Get Into The Global Market If Your Product Or Service Will Not Provide A Global Solution.

 

International connections, partnerships

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To thrive successfully in the global market, building connections and partnerships internationally becomes ever so important. “In the case of Karuwa Apps, we had mentors from Austria,” says Chitaure. By learning from their mentors’ experience and by making use of the networking options brought to the table by the mentors, Karuwa were able to understand the global market, and in turn, map their product accordingly.

For local startups that want to learn how to go global, attending networking events with a global focus is almost imperative. Global startup-related events such as Tech Crunch, Tech in Asia, The Next Web and so on present such opportunities. These are the places where networks and partnerships are built. “Finding a good regional partner will help promote the product/service globally,” says Nirajan Bom Malla, founder of Vidinterest, who has experience with various partnerships, including with youtubedownloader.com and Rackspace, which has helped accelerate the growth of Vidinterest.

Going global is a challenge. But the infrastructure in place now for doing so has made the task less daunting. Owing to the internet, even the earlier boundaries that would have prevented you from teaming up with professionals in other places have been removed, and communication has become much easier too. Because the tech world does not necessarily need a physical product, it has also become easier for tech entrepreneurs to move their products in the global market. “If you select the right market at the right time and create a solid product/service that targets the global audience, going global is possible,” says Malla.

*First published on M&S VMAG

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