Startups, 3 basic steps to succeed in your international development according to your maturity

With French startups, international expansion is attracting more people. And this can be felt at technology fairs: “ The French delegation to CES is growing every yeartestifies to Matthieu Charrière, startup program manager at Business France. In 2019, we supported 100 young French shoots, in 2020, 150. »

Sorare, Qonto, Contentsquare… If France was slow to see unicorns emerge, now their valuations are visible, with two companies (Back Market and Doctolib) exceeding 5 billion dollars in valuation and more than ten to reach or exceed. 2 billion. And as this French ecosystem grows, a new trend is emerging, says the Business France specialist: many new nuggets, in the very beginning, were no longer thought of as French but as “ global », Thus anticipating the future need to develop around the world. In concrete terms, this translates to the recruitment of employees of foreign or bilingual origin, the use of materials in English or even “the simple company name, English-sound “said Matthieu Charrière.

Outside of our borders, these startups will of course look for new sources of growth, as a priority. But this international development also brings positive effects: differences in the markets in which they live can push them to diversify their offerings, and therefore their source of income. In doing so, they also attract talents from a variety of backgrounds and hone their skills.

Beware, however, international expansion is not the answer to all problems. To work, it must be part of a strategy thought upstream. Here are the first three steps recommended by Matthieu Charrière for successful internationalization, based on the four types of entrepreneurs identified.

The risk-all, wanting to cover some countries in record time

  1. Analyze target markets, collecting data and conducting market research.
  2. Give importance. The goal here is to identify three market priorities, at different time periods (short term, medium term and long term).
  3. Focus on a single priority. Clearly, it needs to clearly define its roadmap for expansion into a first country, including how to get its first customers. In particular, it is necessary to weigh the pros and cons and find out whether to better manage the market from France (recommended for neighboring or relatively nearby countries before opening an office when a minimum turnover is reached in said country ) or open an office in the country (recommended for a more distant or more complex market) and start building your sales team there as needed.

“What if I really have to move to the United States too fast to scale?» So we need to first make the United States a top priority, without playing in other fields. “ It requires an investment of at least a million euros before signing your first contract in the United States and it is complicated (very competitive market, need more salespeople than European markets, etc.)warning by Matthieu Charrière. So a trader who says he wants to thrive in this market in addition to others in the same year seems too ambitious to me. »

Moreover, says Matthieu Charrière, “ since the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States is no longer as popular as before, there is a refocusing of strategies on expanding French startups into the European market, and especially in Germany. “.

The simplistic, who wants to export, because his growth is down

  1. Inquiry into his product and functioning of his business. Before committing to internationalization, it is important to understand why his product is not working. Is it really adapted to the French market? Is it due to too high a price or rather a bad marketing strategy?
  2. Identify blocking points in the sale. Once the first answers are obtained, it is necessary to identify the source of the loss of growth or loss of customers, in order to reflect on the weak points of its communication …
  3. Solve or improve these blocking points to re -launch its growth in the French marketbefore even thinking about exporting.

It needs to show its legitimacy on its own basis before being interested in othersassured Matthieu Charrière. If it’s hard for you to convince your own customers in France, how would you like to convince a Spanish or Italian customer? »

What about startups that succeed abroad without a French presence? True, there are, especially in software “, admits Matthieu Charrière,” but it will work for them because this is their approach from the beginning “, He insisted. The international should not be a spare tire in the event of growth failure.

The chill, unwilling to jeopardize his business by expanding around the world

  1. Check yourself by consulting experts For example, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI) or Business France.
  2. See concrete use cases in your sector and see what going international has resulted in these companies. Why not meet people who have already given up and collect their feedback?
  3. Design a route to minimize your risks, with the help of Business France, in particular. In managing the international development of French companies, the structure has programs to support start-ups in their international expansion. To avoid confusion, Business France has just published a white paper (1) intended for start-ups planning to internationalize. It details the financial assistance (Relance Export check, regional aid) and the international acceleration programs that will be taken depending on the maturity of your startup.

“And if France is enough for me? » If so after reflection, no problem. ” But unfortunately, this decision is often due to a lack of knowledge of the benefits and support mechanisms that exist to help them clean up the ground and simplify the apparent complexity. », Regrets Matthieu Charrière.

The neophyte, asking his advisors to recommend markets to cover

  1. Ask about. To be well informed, it is important to store as much documentation as possible and get data on your sector.
  2. Talk to Business France in markets that may be lively.
  3. For organizations to prioritize target markets for its international development.

How to avoid getting lost in a vibrant but suitable market? It’s true that some startups will develop in markets that are sometimes inconsistent or they never imagined, ” that they chose because they realized that, of the ten customers, eight were Indian, for example “, describes Matthieu Charrière. However, we must not neglect to develop a strategy from scratch,” including its data collection, market research and prioritization “, he underlined. This documentation work is very good can lead the startup to move into unexpectedly high potential markets. International development strikes the balance between strategy and opportunity.

Fortunately, with the maturity of the French ecosystem and the proliferation of supporting structures (incubators, accelerators, funds, etc.), neophyte entrepreneurs are gradually becoming more numerous. “, Enthuses the startup program manager.

(1) Key figures on startups, events and programs to accelerate its projection to growth markets, regional assistance, etc. The white paper of Business France can be found here.

Maddyness, media partner of Business France

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