Enlighten Designs Chief Executive and Founder Damon Kelly provides insights and tips for entrepreneurs who are looking to take a product or service overseas.

A tech startup can face many challenges when considering developing a software solution to either reach new customers or improve the experience for existing users.

Two of the biggest pitfalls for that can lead to early failure are: 

  1. Building something you think their users want.
  2. Forgetting to factor in change management and training that will be required, especially for internal users. 

To be successful, here is what you need to consider:

What do you want to achieve?

Be clear on the outcome you want to achieve. What are you trying to build and why? Starting with the end in mind is important for success and for this, you need to know who your target audience is.

Who are your customers and where are they?

When developing a tech solution, your approach should depend on who your customers are. 

Research your market, especially if you are going international, and then work out your niche in that market and the customer segments you should focus on. For example, if you compare New Zealand to a market like the U.S., your niche could potentially be millions of people. Hence, get very specific on who is your product or service for and the problem you are hoping to solve. 

Getting user experience researchers to interview customers for feedback about your solution is the best way to build the right product no matter the market you are in. Keep in mind that if you’re hoping to charge for your solution, you also need to validate that users will actually pay for it, such as with a non-binding intent to buy letter. Then, even during development, you should regularly check in with your target audience users to get feedback and make sure you are on the right track. 

At Enlighten, we use the same strategy and conduct a large amount of user interviews with our Discovery & Design team. These are used to build prototypes to validate the solution with the users before cutting code and implementing features, and then during the build as well. 

Inhouse vs outhouse

The next step would be deciding whether to develop the product inhouse or outsource it.

Inhouse can be your go-to for projects that require specialised knowledge, especially for optimising software or if you’re unclear on the outcome, as it allows you flexibility. 

But there are many good reasons to outsource. For example, internal teams may find it harder to work full-time on a project. Also, have clarity around you team’s capabilities. For example, if your business isn’t big enough to afford a dedicated inhouse team, or they simply don’t have the skills and technology set you’re looking for, it can be cheaper to outsource. 

Outsourced teams also tend to have a wider range of experience they can apply to your project. Businesses like Enlighten that are highly specialised and geared around software, can end up costing about the same as an inhouse team. A deciding factor can be how closely the developers need to work with the customers.

Often, a blend of internal and external teams working on a project can be the best option, especially if it is unfamiliar territory for your team.  So, understand which part of the tech rollout your team is capable of handling and which part can be outsourced. 

Developing a marketing strategy for your global rollout

While you develop your product or service, it is important to have your go-to-market strategy ready as well. 

Develop a value proposition for each player in the marketing chain. Answer questions like: ‘Which persona are we targeting? What are their pain points? What are they looking for?’ These will help you to articulate the product’s features and selling points in the right language for the right people.

Content marketing is an excellent strategy. It’s a way of framing your business as a leader in that market, that can educate and give value to your customers, as well as highlighting your products and services. A good example is the content you are reading right now. Enlighten ‘sells’ software development teams to entrepreneurs and businesses in New Zealand, so we often write articles that provide valuable advice and show our capabilities at the same time.

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