Editor's note: This article came about on a trip to Murcia, Spain sponsored by INFO Murcia. Find out more tomorrow.
The promise of the internet revolution was that your company instantly has access to every market. While that's true in many respects, there is still friction, uncertainty, and perhaps some boots-on-the-ground time needed before a successful launch in a new country. Just over a week ago I was in Murcia Spain with some Finnish ICT entrepreneurs, where I got a chance to talk to them at this point right as some of them were making their first business footing broad.
It was interesting watching these entrepereneurs ask questions about the best places to hire talent, where to get office space, who to partner with locally, and so on. There are obstacles to overcome - if you're actually setting up a foregin office you have to learn a lot of things from scratch again.
It made me realize how expanding to the U.S. is fairly straightforward - considering the Nordic countries speak perfect English and have a lifetime of American TV under their belt to get some understanding of culture. However, it seems that the majority of entrepreneurs consider the non-English speaking markets an afterthought, which is strange considering how fast growing and how hungry the rest of the world is for startup innovations.
Matti Lamminsalo, the founder and CEO of Sankarimedia Oy is developing Yossa, a nightlife radar app and web app. His company is interested in the Spanish market thanks to their 65% smartphone penetration rate and the 2.7 million application downloads every day. "The Spanish people seem to really like downloading free applications and at the same time they are party people," says Lamminsalo.
When asked what concerns he had about entering the Spanish market Lamminsalo responded he had a few, but it was the reason they put a consulting company, Norest Co, between them. "For example we don't know the good people to hire here, but they have spent over 5 years living in Spain so they've made some really good connections."
And rather than having to invest €100k to enter the Spanish Markets, they've arranged a revenue share deal, which helps with their budget and gives them confidence that their partner has a stake in successfully promoting their app.
Tommi Harju of Norest Co and the startup Planify was also present on the trip and says that it's important to realize that every product that sells well in Finland or Sweden isn't going to automatically be a hit in Spain. "It has to be something that fits to this culture and market," he says.
The Nordic and Baltic countries have to think internationally from day one, considering that we have tiny home markets. But if companies aren't expanding they're stagnating - a fate worse than death. What's your expansion goals for 2013?