Several startups have concepts that are relevant across the world. In fact, some of these concepts may have better market opportunities in countries other than the home country of the startup.
Given its size, scale and the dynamics, India indeed is a large market for many startups across the world. Likewise, several startups from India will have market opportunities in different parts of the world.
Yet, it is hard for startups to tap these opportunities independently and without assistance. (In fact, even large, established companies need the assistance of trade bodies and consultants who help them navigate international markets).
I have met several startups from US, Canada,and Europe whose concepts would have large markets in India, yet the thought of India as a market had not even crossed their minds. Why? Because it just did not. There was either little or no understanding of the potential of the market in India, or they had no idea on how and where to even begin in exploring India as a market.
Startup ecosystem enablers – incubators, accelerators, VC funds, and entrepreneurship development organisations like TiE – have a huge role in interconnecting the startups ecosystem with the objective of making it easier for startups to recognise and access opportunities in overseas markets.
To help startups explore and expand into global markets, startup eco-system enablers will need to do two things:
- Familiarise startups about opportunities, challenges, and dynamics of other markets
- Create collaborative cross-border partnerships to facilitate access to new markets
Familiarising startups with new markets is essential because with familiarity with the place and people of a new destination, the challenges seem surmountable and you get the confidence to explore the opportunities meaningfully. Think about it. If a startup from Israel had a good market in India, would it not be relatively easier for the founders to think of expand operations in India if they knew a few people here and had a trusted relationship with a few accelerators or investors?
In fact, if they make friends with a few other founders who can provide them insights about the market, the journey would become so much easier.
India is a large market, and it is very diverse in its dynamics in different parts of the country – right from consumer preferences, to attitudes to purchasing power to regulatory environment, India is many countries in one country. And it is always useful to have someone with a solid understanding of India to assist a company enter the Indian market.
Likewise for Indian startups with global opportunities. The journey would become far more manageable and easier if they had someone they could talk to in that market.
How Incubators, Accelerators Can Facilitate Cross-Border Partnerships
- Create mutually beneficial partnerships with relevant ecosystem enablers in other countries wherein your portfolio companies can reach out to someone designated to help them with insights and assistance.
- Establish a ‘buddy system’ wherein startups with an interest in new markets are paired with founders of a startup in that country, with the objective of helping with insights.
- Establish regular engagement forums – webinars, AMA, open discussions, etc. – this will help build and strengthen relationships between participants.
- Invite participants from your partner organizations to pitch at demo days in your country, and vice versa.
- Share your mentor pool.
A good starting point for ecosystem enablers to establish partnerships are conferences like The Junction, which are designed to facilitate cross-border collaboration between ecosystem enablers in different countries.
Once these relationships are established between ecosystem enablers, startups will start getting familiar with markets that their partners operate in. Once that happens, there will be several mutually beneficial ways to assist startups in exploring global markets
I hope that we can make a good beginning at The Junction where the sessions are designed to facilitate cross-border partnerships. See you at The Junction.