Minimum Viable Localization (MVL) and 4 steps to product localization in any new market

“Never venture, never win!” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

It’s about time to bring some science into localization. In this post I’ll present 4 steps you need to follow when bringing your tech product into any new market. It’s based on an interview I gave at China Business Cast, and it does reference China a lot, but it’s true to any tech company going into any new market (from B2C in Brazil to B2B in England).

I spend the last 3 years as Asia Pacific CEO for my company Leverate, taking it into several markets in the region, with focus on China. This is written with the benefit of hindsight. I’d be lying if I said that we were organized about going global. In fact, we made every possible mistake in the book- including most of those I will warn against. But in time, we learned to be more systematic. Over the last 3 years I became obsessed with the concept of taking your company global. I saw first-hand that it can create game-changing revenue streams, and how subtle it can be. I took every opportunity to speak with founders who were involved in similar journeys.

This post can be helpful for all your management, but especially to The Champion of your geo-expansion. Who is The Champion? The person who leads the expansion. In some companies it’s a regional CEO (me), in some companies it’s the founder/CEO, in some companies it’s the VP Sales who needs to crack a market before the company sets foot there. But there should always be a Champion.

Here are the steps of taking your company to a new market (say, China):

Step 0: make sure the market is right for you

There’s a good amount of homework to do before you expand into a new market, but I won’t cover it in this post. Why this is step 0 should be obvious: new regions are hard to enter and there is a big opportunity cost in choosing your next frontier. If (like us) you’re less rich than Uber, and live in a complex industry, you can only be serious about expanding to 1-2 markets in a given moment. So choose your frontiers wisely.

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Minimum Viable Localization (MVL) and 4 steps to product localization in any new market