Twenty years ago, my friends and I achieved our old dream — to create products that would improve the world. In our case, it started with the tech sphere, an outsourcing company. From that moment, we knew we’d keep the ball rolling.
By the time we decided to open the second business, we had development experience, a team of programmers, and an outsourcing business that allowed us to allocate 3-4 people to launch a new product.
The first steps to our products
The first two attempts failed. We created an ERP system for process automatization and a search resource for daily rent, just like Airbnb for the local market.
These projects were unsuccessful because we made the following mistakes:
- the residual principle of development — when there is time, opportunity, and money left, and there are no other urgent projects to finish at the moment;
- no marketing and sales — we thought our job was to develop a product, and customers would start using a good product without promotion.
The next monster project but only for the local market
We learned our lesson and created eSputnik, an omnichannel marketing automation system. But soon, it turned out that it was not enough to create a well-done SEO website and a customer-oriented product to drive sales.
We targeted enterprise customers in the eCommerce industry and started to sell through direct sales to CMOs. At the first meeting, we heard the phrase:
"No one will condemn me for choosing Salesforce or IBM products, but if something goes wrong with the chosen no-name product, then I can be fired."
For us, this meant that enterprise sales require trust and popularity.
To get clients, we:
- started PR activities;
- participated in conferences;
- conducted seminars;
- organized our niche conference.
Step by step, we became the #1 system in Ukraine for large eCommerce, gaining organic popularity among medium-sized businesses in various industries. It sounds like success, but is it?
On the local market, yes.
But to enter other markets, localizing the product and website into English wasn't enough. And earning the trust of people all over the world requires time and personal meetings. The latter is almost impossible for global products.
So, we realized we needed to start with a new product based on an international audience's pain points.
Stripo — a product that shot globally
This is how we built Stripo.
Stripo is an intuitive drag-n-drop email builder founded in 2017 that significantly speeds up email creation and improves overall email marketing effectiveness.
At the end of 2022, our drag-n-drop email builder will have more than 750,000 users worldwide.
From day 1, Stripo was available in 4 languages. In a year, Stripo was available in 8 languages. With Stripo, we aimed at a global market from the very beginning.
Multifunctional systems never compete with small products as editors. Their focus is not on the editor per se but on problems like collecting and storing customer data, segmentation, sending messages, etc. Stripo focuses only on one thing — the editor, but it allows to improve the user experience in email production.
Comparison of the two approaches
Stripo and eSputnik work in the same industry. But their approaches to marketing, sales, and investment in development significantly differ. Both projects have their advantages and disadvantages, so I’d like to take a moment and talk about each of them separately.
Seven significant features of our pocket product
We liked the Stripo experience and that it has its independent path.
This gave us the criteria for products we would like to develop in the future:
- From day one, it should be a product aimed at the global market, localized to the most spoken in your niche languages.
- The primary traffic source should be organic; you can get customers without having an office in every country.
- Easy to launch for a wide audience so you can benefit from the product from day one without spending time and budget on setup.
- The MVP should be developed in three months, proving the product is simple.
- The product must be from the MarTech industry, where we already have extensive experience.
- The Freemium model allows expanding the audience even by small companies that will grow with us.
- A clear exit strategy. For example, in the case with Stripo, we got big players from the Marketing Automation market.
Our experience proves when it comes to specific tools for a wide audience, there is always room for improvement.
Tips on how to make a product that shot globally
With the gained Stripo experience, we understood the basics of global-product strategy.
Think globally, start globally
You should never expect success in the local market only to scale to the global market later. From day one, it should be a product aimed at the global market, localized to the most spoken languages in your niche.
Hire the right people
It would help if you had a team ready to work globally. You need people with experience in the international market at all levels — from development to marketing. And you need people with similar values and a desire to win.
Do simple things but differently
No matter what industry you work in, you have competitors. They are already doing what you are doing, which is no reason to abandon your product. So you should do it differently: better, faster, easier, more reliable, and more convenient.
Track important metrics
Gather as much data about your product as possible. This will help you analyze how your company grows, understand what is essential for consumers, and see ways to improve the product. It is crucial to remember that different metrics are important at different stages of product development. Choose a key metric and ask yourself how it affects your current decisions. If it does not, it's not your go-to metric yet.
Validate your assumptions
Your assumptions work like a business engine. Test your hypotheses about the problem your business is solving. If you don't, you risk closing the doors to success. Wrong assumptions, while they may seem safe, can limit your progress. A set of proven assumptions, even frightening or disappointing, can give you the freedom to look for real opportunities.
Improve your product quality
Quality is no longer discussed when creating a product. Nothing awaits you in the global market if you do not build all the processes thinking about how you can provide the best quality. Remember that you need to review your codes, run all kinds of automated tests, and work on continuous integration and delivery, security verification, documentation, and other important things.
Love what you do
When entering the global market, you will encounter difficulties everywhere. The best way to overcome them is to be the most passionate fan of your business. Completing all the previous steps is impossible without love for what you do.
Lead Image: Guy Tsror