Since day one, America has been called the land of opportunity, but to find success in international markets, some entrepreneurs find that they have to leave the country. Five small-business owners who did just that share what inspired them to leave and the keys to their global success.
Aljosha Novakovic of Medko Health: Find money by heading south. Aljosha Novakovic left the startup world of Palo Alto, California, to run his company, Medko Health from Santiago, Chile. He participated in Start-Up Chile, a formal program designed to attract startups to Chile. It provides $40,000 in equity-free seed capital and a one-year work visa to participating companies. Novakovic decided to leave America because of the untapped opportunity and decreased level of competition he found in South America. He also believes that a small business has to operate in the market it serves. Interesting fact: Novakovic finds that customers there trust the telephone more than email.
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Stephen Ladek of International Solutions Group: Increase credibility by being present. Stephen Ladek was on a mission to help people in other developing nations. He left the U.S. in 2005 to first live in Jordan, then Hungary and now Costa Rica. He established International Solutions Group, which delivers technical assistance to humanitarian aid organizations. Ladek believes that in order to be successful, his company had to "be there" to gain credibility. Only by being in the country he wanted to help would he get to know the people, the problems and the programs. As a result, his company has done millions in business over the past seven years.
Steven Bazil of Bazil McNulty: Take advantage of different cultural perceptions. Steven Bazil at Bazil McNulty runs a reinsurance law firm. He faced an uphill battle since most law firms that practice this specialty are very large, and he felt customers were unwilling to risk this type of business with a small law firm. As a result, he began traveling to Europe and Latin America and found that other cultures were more willing to judge him by his experience, not the size of his law firm. As a result, he was able to build a business of 90 percent non-U.S. reinsurers.
Eric Baird of MyUs.com: Solve your own problems, since chances are, other people have the same issue. Eric Baird grew up in a military family that constantly moved around the world. During his travels, he observed how U.S. residents living abroad had difficulties shopping with domestic retailers, because many companies simply did not want to ship internationally. As a result, he started MyUS.com, which accepts packages for more than 200,000 customers in 220 countries around the world. It serves as the primary link to international customers for hundreds of U.S. retailers.
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Peter Schmid of Schmid Manufaktur: Sneak away. Peter Schmid wanted to start a handcrafted sneaker company 10 years ago, after he had established a reputation designing for Puma in Germany and working in New York as a design consultant for top designers, including Donna Karan and Alexander McQueen. He decided to set up shop in Asia because of its new market of suppliers, flexibility and lower costs. He began in Hong Kong, but quickly realized that the demand in Europe was greater. Since then, some of Schmid’s designs have appeared in the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco.
Did you leave America to find your success? Share with us if a majority of your business is outside the U.S.
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