International expansion is an inevitable ambition for ambitious tech companies, but the route abroad is fraught with dangers, from legal risks to cultural hazards. Even video-streaming juggernaut Netflix had a bumpy road overseas. The company launched its service into more than 130 new countries in January 2016, but its stock soon slipped as a result. A lack of local content, language barriers, underdeveloped payment processing and broadband infrastructure and pricing that wasn’t significantly altered to match the local economy were named as major barriers by Wall Street analysts Jefferies. Netflix sailed into the largest quarter of net additions in its history within a year, but continues to lose money from its overseas expansion for now. For smaller companies these pitfalls could have already proven fatal. Different international markets all have their own potential potholes around investment, trade, accountancy, logistics, legal and marketing issues. GTM Global in association with techUK brought experts from each of these fields together to give their advice on international expansion in one-to-one sessions for mid-market technology startups.
Techworld was on hand to pick the brains of the mentors at the inaugural three-hour workshops at techUK's central London headquarters.
The workshop begins
There are ten tables arranged along the walls of a large meeting room, where around a dozen different mentors and tech company bosses stand in the middle.They already know each other on paper. Before the meeting, the organisers drafted a briefing document for each company based on an analysis of the business makeup and key objectives of their overseas expansion plan. This is then shared with the mentors, whose details in turn are given to the companies. To ease the personal introductions, everybody present briefly introduces their company and their individual role and goal.