Josh Melick is a multifaceted individual who has worked as an engineer, a project manager, and in sales. In addition, Josh served as the Co-Founder and CEO of Broadly.com, a local small business mobile CRM and messaging platform.
Broadly raised approximately $30 million in venture finance. Before joining Broadly, Josh had product leadership positions at different firms, all acquired.
In this interview, Josh shares his experiences about the complexities of taking a business international. He also outlines some key strategies for monetizing in global markets.
What are some of the key challenges involved with taking a company international?
The first thing you have to ask yourself is what problem are you solving in the foreign country? Next, companies need to understand that while taking their business global can be done, not every market will want your product.
I’ve seen many startups set up an office outside of the U.S. without adequately understanding their customer base or the market dynamics. So the first thing you must do is to visit a foreign country and talk with customers. You cannot rely on your gut instinct because it could be very wrong like it was for one company I know that set up an office in Japan. They had a great product, but they weren’t actually solving problems that Japanese businesses had at the time.
What are some of the benefits of going international?
The benefit is that there’s a real opportunity to expand your business and increase revenue. It brings in new customers, allows you to reach new markets, and help grow your company.
How should companies approach their foreign markets? Is it better just to get into one market or be everywhere at once?
When you’re just starting, it’s better to target one or two countries that are most similar to your home country. Then, you can use those countries as a template for building out the rest of the international markets.
Where is mobile CRM headed? What advancements can be expected in the next five years?
One area that’s still being explored is the monetization of mobile CRM. There are companies working on things like location-based advertising, in-app payment for premium services, and geofencing to send messages to customers when they’re nearby.
What advice might you provide to entrepreneurs looking to take their business international?
First, make sure you understand how you’ll monetize it. It’s better to really focus on a few countries and become a household name there, rather than spreading yourself too thin across many markets.
It’s also important to make sure the government supports your business model by allowing you to collect taxes from customers outside of their country. Again, this is something that I didn’t think about early on, and it’s now something that we’re working on.
In closing, Melick said, “I have found that the one thing that Silicon Valley has trouble with is monetization. That’s why it’s so important for entrepreneurs to really understand how they’ll be able to make money in foreign countries before entering them.”