First steps to foreign market entries – learnings from the SmartUp Accelerator teams

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Back in the late summer of 2018, we opened a call for startups to join the SmartUp Accelerator program. After a bootcamp and four months of intensive work, the first acceleration round with smart home startups is now finished!

We first met our seven selected startups Volts, rdot, Fourdeg, AiRobot, Istabai, Ecolife and Homebeat.Live during our Gothenburg bootcamp in November. Here, startups had the opportunity to discuss their solutions and how they might enter a new market around the Baltic Sea with support from local partners. After some research and planning on what a strategy for entering their selected market might look like, the startups returned back home and started their work. Through regular contact, startups had the chance to raise questions or problems during the acceleration phase.

So what was achieved during the acceleration?

Quite a lot, actually. Both in the middle and at the end of the acceleration phase, we arranged online meetings for all partners and startups to share insights on both success factors and challenges. Successful strategies during the acceleration phase included:

  • Finding potential partners with the help of the consortium and visiting the target markets
  • Targeted efforts towards improving websites and social media activities to work in the target market
  • Mapping relevant international customers and making direct contact online or attending fairs
  • Getting mentions in newspapers both in their own and their target markets

These are some of the activities that have led to connections with the potential of turning into actual market entries. But the teams have faced some challenges as well. Some have learned that legal regulations can be unexpectedly complex or more strict than European law. Other learnings include that understanding the new market and consumer behavior and attitudes is very important. During the acceleration some startups also learnt the importance of having a local connection in the target market to cross language and cultural barriers.

The way forward

We carry with us the experiences from good outcomes and positive feedback. The team working with the project learned many hands-on things that we can do to make sure consumer cleantech companies can get even better tailored support. We will get to apply this knowledge very soon, as we will support our next group of smartups with smart mobility solutions during 2019. Other comments worth raising are of course that people have, through this journey, also opened up both for keeping in touch and getting into contact if passing through and in need of a temporary desk or just friendly tips. And so, a SmartUp community is slowly taking its form.

Are you a startup that wants to be a part of this? The application phase for the next acceleration phase is less than one month away, so stay tuned!