Launching a business globally is often the end goal for many entrepreneurs, but it can be a tricky transition if startups aren’t well prepared. While launching (or wanting to launch) a start-up is not requirement to be part of the Global Entrepreneurship Program (other career opportunities can include taking over a family business or pursuing a corporate business development initiative for example), it provides international training for future entrepreneurs and is the perfect launch pad for a career as a global entrepreneur.
Students have the opportunity to launch their own startup during their studies, and Lea Von Bidder launched her first venture, L’inouï, while studying on the Global Entrepreneurship Program. She says that her number one piece of advice to current students would be to do the same: “First off, start your company during the Global Entrepreneurship Program. You are only doing a one-year Masters after all.” Make the most of your time!
Going global: the international advantage
Students of the Global Entrepreneurship Program study gain entrepreneurial experience in three different countries across three different continents. This international experience offers them a truly global perspective, and the skills to take their startup international.
Alumna Lea Von Bidder’s current business, Ava – a women’s digital health startup, was founded in Switzerland. Three months after founding the company she went to San Francisco with a view to opening an office there, and at the same time started to work with a team in Belgrade. A genuinely global organization!
International experience is vital in today’s landscape. As Lea states: “All of Ava’s co-founders have international experience which I think is crucial nowadays. We decided very quickly that we couldn’t launch in Switzerland only. We had to think international from day one”.
It’s the classic piece of advice: think global from day one. Having an international outlook from the beginning will really generate payoffs for your growth strategy. In order for fledgling startups to survive, the team (and especially the entrepreneurs behind the business) need grit, stamina, and a positive attitude towards the entrepreneurial try-fail process. But most important of all is a strong ambition from day one to drive the startup to success.
Key lessons to guide your expansion
1-Stay true to your core vision
Having a clear concept of where you want go and what you want to do will push your business forward, but you must also stay mindful of your current situation. Zubin Bhettay, VP at DoubleDutch writes about going global in Entrepreneur. He explains: “We needed to ensure that we maintained focus on the core of the business, and that moving overseas did not become a distraction from immediate business growth”. Or, as Darrell Jones puts it in We Work, “keep your home fires burning”.
2-Do your homework
As digital technology and better infrastructure change the business landscape, the ‘rules’ of going global have also changed – or at least become more flexible. As an entrepreneur, you need to have the foresight to consider different approaches, and decide what your strategy should be. From picking the right location, anticipating all costs involved, doing your due diligence on country-specific regulation, and keeping your team (and new recruits) happy, there is much to consider before you expand internationally.
3-Create a supportive network
You’ll need to make local business connections and hire new team members, and it will take time to find the right fit for your startup. As TechCrunch explains: you need to “preserve and export the company culture and ensure brand consistency around the world”. David Becker, co-founder of Zkipster writes about going global in the Guardian, he says “corporate culture cannot be taught, it needs to be experienced.” Spending time face to face with your team to build the culture and stay in touch with what’s happening is vital.
The curricula and content of the Global Entrepreneurship Program along with the melting pot of the diverse experience and cultures of the students, ideally prepare the future graduates with a truly global viewpoint – a key requirement for prosperity in today’s connected world. Additionally, the Global Entrepreneurship Program equips students with the business know-how and necessary soft skills to successfully take their startup international.