Since we launched finder.com globally, I’ve realised why networking is so important. It’s part of our launch journey and sets the foundation to success.
Our global journey began two years ago when we launched finder.com in the USA. We now operate in 10 countries: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, USA, Mexico, Canada, Spain and Chile. We’re also launching in more countries next year.
It’s the connections you make that will set you apart and allow you to launch more successfully in a new market.
When my co-founder, Frank Restuccia, and I first started finder about 10 years ago, we networked at free business events for the food because we had no money. We ate so much food that we didn’t need dinner.
But we also got to meet people in the same industry, learnt about the different skills you need to run a business and met some amazingly talented people. These events can be so inspiring. The best part is that your brand becomes known in the industry.
These events are even more important when you’re launching in unfamiliar territory. In fact there are five types of people you need to meet when hitting a new market.
The media can give you an audience and customer base, and leverage your brand and credibility.
Find out the top media publications for that market (a quick Google search can do the trick), and look for journalists who write about the issues and industry you work in.
For us, we’re interested in meeting business journalists so when we launch in a new market we know who to talk to. We are also interested in meeting consumer finance press to help them with comment and research around banking and other industries.
For example, in the early days of our US launch, we planned a trip to our LA office around a Business Chicks event, where Arianna Huffington was the keynote speaker (founder of the Huffington Post and one of the most powerful women in the world). We hustled our way through the crowd and pitched a blog idea – and it worked! It was my first blog in the US and was about some of the challenges we faced with that fragmented market. Check out the blog here.
Finding people to work with is equally the hardest and most important thing to do as a startup. Networking can be a big help in getting in front of the brightest people in your industry.
We invest heavily into professional development and send our crew to conferences to not only learn from experts in the industry, but also to find talented people to join our team. We’ve hired many people from meeting them at events.
So don’t be scared to speak to the speakers and delegates.
Experts can also be found at in accelerator and entrepreneurial programs, and startup bootcamps, which are becoming more prolific in every market. They specialise in growth and launching in new markets.
The experts who run these groups will often know what you need to do to set up – and who to talk to. They will also know what grants are available to apply for and tax incentives too.
I was introduced to an accelerator program when I visited Singapore in mid-2017 and visited a startup bootcamp. These guys really know their stuff and hooked me up with consultants and advisors to help with legal and tax requirements when launching. It was an invaluable experience.
4. Business Leaders
I like to look up my LinkedIn connections, friends and associates who live in or will be in that market when I’m in town and ask them if they want to meet up before I head over. They will give you insight into the challenges they faced when they launched and share their experiences with you. They might also introduce you to their network.
When we were in Singapore, we met with my mate Nick Hungerford, who is the founder of Nutmeg. He just moved to Singapore with his family so it was perfect timing catch up with him and find out what he’s doing there and who can he introduce me to.
Getting our clients on board can be a long and heavy process, and almost every one is the result of 1:1 meetings. When we launch in a new market, we need to connect with our clients and slowly get the products onto our site, one at a time.
Sometimes we have connections to these clients from other providers, and some are through affiliate deals. But very often it’s a matter of searching for people on their company website and Linkedin and meeting them for a coffee.
When you launch your business in a new market, make sure you launch your hustle too.