We constantly ask when India will produce the next Google, Facebook or Uber. Many reasons are given but I believe it starts with the thinking. You must, right at the start, think and believe that your product, your company, is global.
Google didn’t say it wants to index all information in Mountain View, or California, or the United States. No. It said it wants to index all the information in the world — global from Day One. Similarly, Uber didn’t say it is the private driver for everyone in the United States. It said ‘Everyone’s private driver.’ Global from Day One.
Sometimes people feel that problems are unique. In some cases, that may be so, but I find that for the most part people around the world have similar problems that can be solved by similar solutions. Just as so many ideas that originated in the US or other markets have been applicable and successful in India as well, so why do we assume that India’s problems are India’s alone? Why deprive the rest of humanity of your phenomenal innovation?
So think that you will be global from Day One. This should be one of the core goals of the company — something you should actively work on, fiercely protect and always uphold, whether against existing or new investors, your team, competitive distractions or whatever else that comes. Make this part of your culture so everyone is thinking and benchmarking themselves globally.
When we launched in Singapore in 2012, many told us that it was foolish to do so. We were ourselves a bit sceptical about whether an advanced market like Singapore would have need for our product. Around the same time, I was at an event in Germany. When I reached the Practo booth I remember thinking that Germany probably has products years ahead of this so it will be good learning for us in Practo. But to our surprise, both in Singapore and in Germany, we found doctors blown away by what we had done. They loved the product and wanted to try it out right there and then. So I learned that the same problem existed, and was solved by the same product. Equally important, going global improves your product.
No matter how great you think your product is, it will always improve significantly if you go beyond India to tap other markets and find other users who will try it. In Singapore, we learnt a lot about how healthcare is practiced in a developed country, how responsive and scalable our infrastructure needs to be. We took a lot of these learnings and put them back into our product so that the next version was 10x better. What we also did was to not build a ‘Singapore version’ – we decided that if we go to a country and learn something that is better, we will upgrade our product globally to reflect that, not do isolated versions for each country. This has many benefits. Apart from simplifying and eliminating product variations, it has a far more important benefit — it helps the industry itself cross leverage best practices from regions they would otherwise not go to for discovering insights.
So building global is good for your product, it is good for the business, it is good for the country. Most important, it is good for consumers who will continuously get high quality products that will improve their lives.
Is it easy? Of course not. But then very few things worth doing really are. The world is waiting to be delighted by you. Show them what you can do. Build Global. Do Great.