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Startup Generation Global Fellowship (Cambridge University Judge Business School) – Entrepreneurship without Borders

#Blog & News#Cambridge University#Global Entrepreneurship#Startup Generation Global Fellowship

Following the module on Entrepreneurship without Borders, I feel to write about our personal experience related to this topic and describe how we are trying to overcome challenges and obtain achievements in what seems a borderless global entrepreneurship playground.
I want to look at one very specific and concrete example that is related to the challenges and outcomes of being entrepreneurs without borders.
The example relates to our on-going market entry in Russia. Our value proposition for this market is to bring basic and advanced topics on innovation engineering and management to Russian companies and providing our startup products and services to the many incubators and accelerators in the country.
The challenges that we found are also my arguments on what are strong borders to global entrepreneurship and that in my opinion all entrepreneurs should try to overcome:
1) Culture: there is a huge difference in culture between Europe and Russia. This reflects also on how the two cultures think about entrepreneurship and about doing business. What might seem common business practice in Europe, can be seen in a completely different light in Russia.
2) Language: The language of a country is strongly rooted to its culture. Not knowing, understanding, speaking the language creates a barrier between the two parts. Understanding your customers/users and your local stakeholders is essential for being successful.
3) National focus: As in many countries in Europe there is a tendency to do business with local or national players, due to a stronger cultural fit. Even if you are providing some cutting edge consulting products, still the cultural misfit might crush you, when pitching or negotiating with your prospective clients.
4) Politics: Politics is very much involved in business and vice versa. Not having political connections might slow down the market entry and the setup of strong business connections in the country.
These are a few of the reasons, why for us markets like Russia are still “with borders”. Although we had the experience that if you bring in passion, a strong product and a talented team, everything is possible. When providing your products to global markets, I believe there are certain rules and operational steps to undertake, in order to ease the market entry:
1) Think on a Global and Local approach (or Glocal):
When entering markets think about a local setup of your entrepreneurial activity using your globally deployable products and services.
– Hire local people that are rooted to the local culture, politics, business networks.
– Setup local partnerships to enable local market penetration.
– Use both a bottom up and top down approach.
2) Enter the markets with interesting economics and in which you have a lower “psychic distance” first.
3) Sometimes cultural misfit might benefit your prospective client. Thinking about our Russian market entry, by providing know how and intelligence from a more western world, it helped us in the first steps in accessing this market. You can then leverage the first projects and references to expand your local deal flow.
In our digitalized world, especially startups providing global products and services seem to overlook the complexity of different cultures, behaviours, habits and ethical standpoints and see an infinite opportunity of scalability. In our opinion this is much harder than it seems on paper and we think the best approach is a Glocal approach.
written by Frank M. Saviane (CEO)