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3 common reasons why tech startups struggle when expanding into new markets

A few years ago, I was leading a team for a top investment bank that had projects on four continents.

We had one goal:

How to reimagine our products and services so the local consumers would actually use it?

For example,

➡ Make it available in their native language

➡ Make it accessible on their smartphone

➡ Make it compliant with the local laws

Before this, I had led complex projects in North America, Europe, and Asia, but I had never led a project in Latin America.

But we had a problem:

We were scheduling meetings to troubleshoot the product before it went to market.

We were scheduling those meetings on Fridays.

Nobody showed up.

This happened 3 weeks in a row.

I was so confused.

I scheduled a meeting with the local project manager and asked, “Why isn’t anyone showing up to the meetings? Don’t you want this thing to go live?”

He shared something eye opening;

On Fridays, people in Argentina and Brazil are on the soccer field. Not in the office. And certainly not at meetings.

🎯 Aha. We were so focused on launching the business line, that we didn’t research the culture. The people.

So I started hosting our team meetings on Mondays with a view to go live with the product on a Friday.

We successfully launched the product that allowed the local consumer to have access to their bank accounts 24x7. It would work even without high quality internet connection. AND it was in their language.

We earned the highest ever Customer Satisfaction Score worldwide as a result of this project.

📌 Today, when I am working with a tech startup that has a minimum revenue of $10MM and raising a Series A/B round, here is what I see is similar to my project in Latin America:

1. The culture between the leadership and the country they are entering is different

2. The leadership doesn’t have intimate knowledge of the local regulations that impact transactions

3. We had to partner with known banking brands already on the ground in order to sell ours

🌎 What has been the hardest thing for you to grasp when you travel to a new country?


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