Be Humble and Keep Learning – My Journey on Expanding to New Geos
Working at a startup can be a very humbling experience for anyone and especially for those who moves from the world of the Enterprise. As your startup moves from ninja-like stealth-mode development phase to a company with a proven product and many happy customer, there’s plenty of reasons to celebrate. As a product becomes popular, the classic evolution of a product cycle starts to spread outside of your home geo.
Opening up new geographical regions have complexities all their own: You have to hire local account teams, local distributors, and local resellers etc. One of the most common thing that people overlook is not making sure that the product you build in your home country fits the needs of a new country.
Being first on the ground in new Geos have been a very humbling experience, from not knowing the local languages, to learning the new business cultures. But the most humbling is realizing that you can be told that what you’ve built before, and have sold to many before, isn’t quite what’s needed here.,,,this is where the continuation of the development and innovation phase can continue or kill a company as it stalls.
Listening to constructive feedback can be a great way to learn a lot about a new region’s idea of a minimally viable product. This is where a finely developed product management earns their stripes.
Great companies never rest on their laurels. Finding the perfect mix of product function and time-to-market is key to get your first product out the door, but you should never stop there. By only listening to your happy customers, and friendly neighbors, your innovations will die. Once innovation has ended, often times, so has your company.
Here are a few tips to consider when moving your product and company to the international stage:
- Cast a Wide Net: Don’t only focus on the verticals you’ve had success in at home, take meetings with a wide variety of companies. Don’t pigeonhole yourself in only the verticals you’ve had repetitive success with at home.
- Listen More. Speak Less: You may be very comfortable with your pitch and how it plays at home, but once you start giving it in a different country, you’ll learn far more by letting your potential customers talk about their problems instead of leading them through your products positioning.
- Stay Humble: This is the first part of a message that is scrolled atop a large wall at the Cohesity HQ office, and is the first thing you should do when landing in a new country. Always being humble will often-times disarm potential customers, allowing you to learn valuable insights into the workings of an entirely new business culture.
- Always be Learning: Understand that you don’t always bring the gift of fire to a new world. Often times opening up a new Geo requires you to go back to the drawing board on everything from product positioning, pitching, and even feature-sets.
There’s a reason that Be Humble and Keep Learning is a mantra at Cohesity. We all know that great companies are built on the shoulders of the learned and the ever-humble. Continuing to better yourself, and your product will ensure its life and success across the globe.