Going international

When a company is considering going international, a plethora of issues come looking: from the mundane, such as visa issues, time zones and contracts, to the more abstract – cultural differences, language barriers, ways of doing business. Thus for a startup looking at taking the plunge, every bit of advice and assistance comes in handy.

Successful scaling from the Netherlands

One Dutch startup to have scaled successfully with DutchBasecamp’s help is CMNTY, who now have an operation in New York City working together with their Dutch base, with revenue split evenly between them. After having been contacted by US clients repeatedly, they took the first step towards scaling in 2013. According to Maxim Schram, CMNTY’s founder and CEO, it was a warm welcome: “People here are full of enthusiasm about the Netherlands and Europe. Particularly the Netherlands has the image of being innovative and of delivering high-quality products.”

Intercultural communication

Schram has some advice for doing international business. The most important bit: take the time to get to know the new country’s culture, especially nuances in conversation and business talks. If you’re not familiar with those, “you risk seeming overly brusque to others, and not understanding where the other is getting at, either.” On a more bureaucratic level, “make sure your contracts and paperwork are clear and in good order.” A company looking to scale internationally should also ensure they have a financial cushion. “Have a buffer. My current coach is André Grift of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, who’s also a coach at DutchBasecamp. He’s got a business in the US and keeps me from making beginners’ mistakes, and he says it too: you’ve got to have money to burn. You need a buffer.” Schram’s last bit of advice: don’t overestimate yourself. “Our website was in English, and, you know, in the Netherlands we all think our English is really good, but when you get here it turns out to be somewhat less good than we thought. Thankfully, our clients thought the text on our site was cute.”

DutchBasecamp’s coaching

In short, proper preparation goes a long way when it comes to international scaling. Startups harbouring international ambitions can contact DutchBasecamp for advice regarding finding out which country might be a good fit for their service or product, how to make an action plan for achieving international success and seeing if they would qualify for the international strategy coaching by DutchBasecamp. The coaching includes individual sessions with experienced tech entrepreneurs from the Dutch startup ecosystem.

Maxim Schram was interviewed by Menno van Dam, coach coordinator at DutchBasecamp. Original interview in Dutch