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The International Expansion Podcast with Ramsey Pryor

The International Expansion Podcast with Ramsey Pryor

By Ramsey Pryor
Welcome to the International Expansion podcast. My name is Ramsey Pryor, and I spent the past five years taking one of Silicon Valley's fastest growing startups into new markets all around the world.

Tech companies are able to expand overseas faster than ever before. But there's quite a lot that goes into getting it right, and each new market has its own unique and fascinating set of quirks and challenges.

The best way to prepare is to learn from people who have been there before, so I started this podcast to gather the best practices from tech's most admired startups.
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Episode 9 - Robyn Larsen, International Growth and Marketing at Shopify

The International Expansion Podcast with Ramsey Pryor

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Episode 10 - Rachel Carruthers, Head of Internationalisation & Localisation @ Canva
Rachel is Head of Internationalisation & Localisation at Canva. Canva is an online design and publishing tool with a mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere. Since it was founded in 2013, Canva has grown into a unicorn and one of Australia’s most famous tech companies. Rachel has been at Canva for over 4 and a half years, so she’s overseen an incredible period of international growth as Canva now reaches over 60M MAU in 190 countries and over 100 languages. Rachel is a member of the international mastermind network and a Bay Area native that is now living and working in Australia, so we share a lot of common interests and connections, and I’ve been looking forward to having her as a guest for a long time. Here's what we covered: Rachel's background and decision to leave the Bay Area and live and work abroad. Planning international expansion starting from Australia Localization and Internationalization - what these terms mean to Rachel Rachel's day-to-day role at Canva Going live in 100 countries - what goes into it, and the motivation behind such a big push
52:53
November 15, 2021
Episode 9 - Robyn Larsen, International Growth and Marketing at Shopify
Robyn Larsen is an International Growth and Marketing UX leader at Shopify. She’s a front-end developer, entrepreneur, and speaker, and advises numerous startups across multiple industries and frequently mentors women in tech and STEM. In addition to the work she does at Shopify, she teaches Zero to Launch workshops for entrepreneurs through Embrk. Shopify powers over 1.7 million businesses in more than 175 countries, and in this interview, I had the chance to ask Robyn all about her learnings after spending the last 4+ years localizing Shopify's experience for markets all across the world. Below are the topics we discuss: Shopify's current international presence and state of localization Things a tech founder should know about what it takes to make technology resonate in global markets in a first-class way The capabilities she recommends building in house, and the things that are ok or even better to buy or outsource How to choose where to start, and which regions and languages should be top of the list for localization The companies are doing the best job of localization, and what they do they do differently The mistakes Robyn made, and advice that could save someone else from making the same mistakes Pseudolocalization - what it is, and how it can help your localization team UX experiences that many learn the hard way
56:57
October 19, 2021
Episode 8 - Jeffrey Paine, Managing Partner at Golden Gate Ventures
Jeff Paine is a Co-founder and Managing Partner of Golden Gate Ventures, an early stage technology venture capital fund based in Singapore. Golden Gate Ventures currently has over US$175 million under management and has made investments in over 45 companies since 2012 across Southeast Asia. Jeff also started and manages the Founder Institute incubator in Singapore. Since 2010 the Founder Institute has graduated over 100 companies in Southeast Asia and Japan, and he received the Director Award for “Greatest Ecosystem Impact” Worldwide for his work there. He’s currently an investor and advisor to Redmart, Tradegecko, Coda Payments, and mentor at JFDI Asia, Chinaccelerator and of course at the Founder Institute. Jeff is a Singapore native, but he spent the first eight years of his career in early stage venture and private equity in the US, and he graduated from USC, so he understands how things work in Silicon Valley and in Southeast Asia, and he's is an ideal person to help folks like me understand how to think about the region when taking technology from here to there.  Below are the topics we cover during this hour-long conversation: How the investing and startup environment has evolved over the past 10 years in Southeast Asia, and since the pandemic began How to think about and prioritize the markets that make up Southeast Asia Where this region should fit in a global expansion timeline The types of businesses that are succeeding in the region The best places to find engineering talent, and what to look for The first wave of regional unicorns, and lessons being applied by the second generation of entrepreneurs in SEA Advice for founders and entrepreneurs on how to approach this region, and things to be cautious about
01:02:54
October 5, 2021
Episode 7 - Robbie O'Connor, GM EMEA at Notion
This episode is a crash course on entering Europe from Robbie O'Connor. Robbie had led the local charge for Google, Dropbox, Asana, and now Notion, and in this interview, he reflects on the best practices he's learned first hand, from setting up the team, segmenting the continent, and localizing the go to market approach. We also discuss how each of these things have evolved, and what's coming next. Below is the full list of topics we cover: What Notion does, and the responsibilities placed on the GM of Europe Benchmarking Notion's presence internationally users, geos, and headcount as of June 2021 How to prioritize geographies when a company has clear product market fit and plans to be everywhere eventually The pre-req's and milestones your company should achieve before expanding internationally The advantages of setting up a European hub in Ireland - talent, tax, and regulatory benefits The current funding environment in Europe, and other talent hubs on the continent Ways to segment Europe into sales territories - initially and as your team grows The amount of localization that's currently required to succeed as a SaaS company in Europe Whether a single sales methodology works in all markets around the world, and the right way to adapt the sales approach for each market The pros and cons of starting with a functional leader such as a sales leader versus a general manager when entering a region The challenges and soft art of being a regional leader Best practices and tactics for staying aligned with HQ and building bi-directional communication What companies can do to set their regional leaders up for success Knowing what good looks like when you are getting started in Europe The importance and impact of data privacy laws in Europe, and what companies should know before entering The mentors and opportunities that helped Robbie build his international leadership skills Expectation setting and preparing for the bumpy road when going into new markets
58:40
July 6, 2021
Episode 6 - Ron Schneidermann, CEO at AllTrails
Ron Schneidermann is the CEO of AllTrails, and has been building technology that helps people enjoy the outdoors for over 15 years. He's an accomplished entrepreneur and a hands-on leader who devours data and isn't afraid to veer from the standard startup playbook. Many of the folks listening know AllTrails as the outdoor app that helps you find the perfect activity for your preferences, and once you’re there, you can take advantage all sorts of detailed maps to keep you on the trail, even when you’re out of cell service. AllTrails has been around since 2010, and now hosts over 200,000 trail guides in 190 countries across all 7 continents, and has over 1M premium subscribers worldwide. This isn’t Ron’s first expedition as an outdoor technology leader. He co-founded Liftopia and built and ran the world’s leading ski lift ticket booking tool for 8 years, backed by all-star investors like Marc Benioff, Chris Sacca, and First Round Capital. He also led Growth at Yelp before taking over the reins at AllTrails. In our talk, Ron shares his approach to covering the globe, lessons he's learned the hard way, and the questions he's still chewing on. Here's what we cover: Ron's experience taking AllTrails from 6 people to 100 people, and through a really tough transition period. Carving a non-conventional path as a startup. Going for profitability early, and deciding the early adopters were not the profile to build around. The inflection point that led to the focus on becoming a global company. The pros and the cons of using acquisitions to fuel growth. The pandemic experience - the explosion of hiking, helping people stay healthy, and growing the team during lockdown. How AllTrails approaches international expansion and coverage across all 7 continents. Translation vs. localization, and things that broke when going from one market to the next (even from the US to the UK). Machine translation - when to use it, when to avoid it. How to support one billion end users around the world, and the trade-offs between centralized vs. de-centralized teams. Ron's advice and hindsight for companies going global and maximizing momentum. Hindsight on acquisitions, and things NOT to do to avoid making users really angry and avoid bleeding eyes :). How best to structure your team to get the most out of each market, and to diagnose problems when markets aren't performing as hoped. The aspects of international expansion that are still up for debate at AllTrails, and most likely at many other growing companies.
01:02:08
June 18, 2021
Episode 5 - Nataly Kelly, VP of Localization at Hubspot
Nataly Kelly is currently the VP of Localization at Hubspot. As most are aware, Hubspot is one of the foremost CRM platforms out there in market, and for context on their global presence, they have over 4500 employees across 11 global offices, and serve over 113,000 customers in over 120 countries. Nataly has been doing amazing work in international business for over 20 years, from localization and translation, to research, consulting and advising some of the largest companies in the world on their international strategy. She is also an author of two books on translation, a frequent contributor to publications including The Huffington Post and the Harvard Business Review, and she has a fantastic blog called Born to Be Global which I read regularly and highly recommend checking out. Below are the topics we cover, and links to the resources discussed: Nataly's journey from rural Illinois to Ecuador and the influences that led to a career in translation and international business Defining translation, and how that concept and the field has evolved over the past 2 decades The story of the $71 million dollar word - a cautionary tale about translation vs. interpretation The best definitions of the following terms I've ever heard - translation, localization, internationalization, and globalization The ideal first hire on your localization team (it's not what you might expect) Machine versus human translation, and the best use cases for each The role of translation agencies - pros and cons, and when to leverage them Where companies waste money localizing content How to achieve consistency in your marketing tone and brand voice all around the world Cultivating Content Design - by Beth Dunn How to hire people you can trust to convey your brand voice in different languages and cultures The hallmarks of operating as a world class global-minded company What’s coming next in terms of innovation within localization - velocity, differentiated workflows, continuous delivery, and the metrics that matter most Nataly's mentors and role models
01:04:13
June 4, 2021
Episode 4 - Abe Smith, Head of International at Zoom
In this Episode, my guest is Abe Smith. Abe is currently Head of International at Zoom, where he oversees the business, AKA spreading happiness, globally in EMEA, APAC, Japan and Latin America. Over the past few years and throughout the pandemic, Abe has overseen an unprecedented amount of growth and challenge, as Zoom has become a verb and as the technology has taken a central role in the daily lives of businesses, governments, schools, and individuals all around the world. Prior to taking on this role, Abe was President of EMIA at Cision, and has held senior leadership roles focused on emerging markets at Oracle, Badgeville, Mindjet, Cisco and Webex. Abe has established a tremendously successful track record as an international commercial leader and operator, scaling up teams in emerging markets for well over 15 years. See below for the topics we covered during this conversation. How and why Zoom became the verb for videoconferencing despite all the competition in this space The mindset and commitment needed within Zoom to keep the platform and operations running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Responding to huge spikes in demand and never before imagined user scenarios Benchmarking where Zoom was before the pandemic, and how much the company has scaled since then Tactical questions on international expansion - when is it the right time for companies to begin, and what are the pre-reqs? The value of starting with lower complexity markets The role of the pioneer, and setting the foundations for a continental strategy Factors to consider when to move into more complex but large or strategically important markets The level of localization needed to begin selling internationally in the early days, and over time as the sales organization matures The extra-challenging expectations often placed on remote sales teams Ways to create transparency and visibility for remote teams, and to help the organization think from the perspective of those outside of HQ Ways to embrace regional tribes within the company while reinforcing values globally The most important values inside of Zoom, and what it has been like to find and onboard the right people during this period of hyper-growth Speed of Trust - required reading at Zoom Beyond advertising - the importance of product and PR when building a brand like Zoom Advice for a founder or CEO before going into their first international market What it's meant to Abe to be part of Zoom during the pandemic, professionally and personally
01:00:21
May 20, 2021
Episode 3 - Ana Sofia Guzman - Co-founder of International Mastermind, fmr International Strategy and Operations at Squarespace
In this episode, Ana Guzman shares her journey starting from El Salvador, moving to the US for university, driving Squarespace's early international expansion team, and then founding International Mastermind and a bilingual education company. She goes deep into the cross-functional effort and pre-work that her team at Squarespace undertook to properly localize their product and message for the German market, and shares lots of valuable learnings and hindsight from this experience. See below for the topics we covered during this conversation. Ana's journey from El Salvador to the US and into international expansion as a career How international expansion started at Squarespace, and the foundational pre-work that went in before expansion began Signals and data used to help prioritize markets Entering Germany - why this market was chosen first at Squarespace Localization - what was required beyond translation and currency to succeed in the German market The cross functional teams needed to make this happen - which departments were involved, and how to lobby for constrained resources Getting buy-in and executive support behind the international initiative The process and work that went into building a brand in a new market The resources that helped inform Squarespace's expansion strategy The importance and benefits of spending time on the ground before entry What it means to be market-ready versus what it means to launch the business in a new market KPIs used to measure success post-launch Setting expectations and benchmarks, and communicating progress internally Key learnings, and applying the lessons learned in the first market to countries that came later on Keying into cultural nuances - why this matters, and an example of what resonates with German consumers vs. American consumers. Product requirements and effort needed to set up a localization layer within the product. International Mastermind - what this group is, and the vision that led Ana and her co-founders to start this group Helpful resources that Ana reads regularly - Ben Thomspon, and Nataly Kelly's Born to be Global blog Ana's advice for people who want to pursue International Expansion as a role
46:27
May 11, 2021
Episode 2 - Talia Baruch, Global-Ready Product Growth at Google, LinkedIn, SurveyMonkey, founder of GlobalSaké
In this episode, Talia Baruch provides a masterclass on how to properly localize a company's Vision, Mission, Value Prop, and product experience, and why it's so important to take on a global-ready mindset from the start. She goes into dozens of real world examples of how companies including LinkedIn, Evernote, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola adapted their approach in order to succeed overseas. Below is a chronological list of topics we cover with links to external resources. Enjoy! The ParlamINT - Talia's GlobalSaké monthly series covering the holistic, cross-functional areas for building a global-ready and geo-fit product strategy, integrating the right regional and cultural factors to win local new markets on a global scale. Yewsdene and Talia's Influencers. How far Localization has come in the past 20 years How to set up your company to be global ready from the start, and the re-work needed if you don't Learnings from companies that nailed the local approach in Japan and China - Evernote and LinkedIn Localizing your brand and lightweight entry strategy for China Localizing the entire user journey - way beyond language How should you build your international team, and where this function should live within the organization What's the right first hire, what other skills do you need on your international team Internationalization vs. Localization and what most companies overlook. The spectrum between straight translation, localization, transcreation and local content origination. Setting up your platform infrastructure architecture the right way to prevent code re-factoring and rework later Vision, mission and value proposition - how these concepts intersect, and what should be adapted to fit your priority new markets How Starbucks and Wix had to adapt their brands to not offend customers in the Middle East and Germany. Here's a video of Wix turning an awkward brand name mishap into marketing gold (hint: Google 'Wix in German'). Is anyone big enough to not need to localize? Germany and Japan - why these markets are so different from the rest and what they have in common Localizing your Marketing approach for Europe and Asia The pitfalls of localizing for Asia but without local content The importance of "guanxi", reciprocity, and trust in Asia Fun ones - Talia's biggest cultural learning, favorite hotel, tips for jetlag, and biggest influence
01:16:59
April 30, 2021
Episode 1 - Tariq Mahmoud, Head of International at Reddit
Hello and a very warm welcome to this inaugural episode of the International Expansion Podcast!  On this podcast, we talk with the people responsible for taking their companies into new international markets. They share their best practices, what they got right and wrong, and valuable hindsight so that we can all learn from their experience. In this episode, Tariq Mahmoud describes what it takes and means for Reddit to enter new markets. He also shares some of his learnings from taking on similar roles at Roku and Verizon Media. Here's what we cover: The international team at Reddit - size, reporting, growth; Reddit's DAU and international growth; How the product is localized for new markets; How markets are prioritized; Keeping stakeholders on the same page (literally) using Decision Documents (love this!); Managing across timezones and languages; Implementing matrix management; Getting into the role of International GM - what it takes, how it happens; Resources on expansion and and the CAGE Distance Framework; The hardest markets to enter - Japan and China; Biggest surprise learning, and getting C-suite buy-in
58:32
April 21, 2021