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We are often approached by companies and startup entrepreneurs seeking to launch their products or services into a new international market. Expanding your business into new markets is a complex undertaking and requires a substantial amount of investigation and analysis before deciding to move forward. And, there is no single best answer about “the right way” to it. But, there is a useful framework that you can use to determine the best path forward if you are looking to grow your business into new markets. We typically start by asking the leadership team three questions.


Question #1 - Is your product a good fit for the target market?


The first question we always seek to answer is whether the product will be a good fit for the new market. The answer to this question usually requires a detailed analysis of the proposed new market to understand key elements such as:

  • The problem to be solved

  • Competitive products

  • Substitute solutions

  • Price points and willingness to pay

  • Service, support, and warranty expectations


Culture and language can also play an important role in determining whether a product will be a good fit in the new market. This is particularly important in software products. Market success depends on getting the answer to this question correct.


Question #2 - Does your product meet the regulatory requirements of the target market?


This is usually a complex question that will require the analysis of the company’s technical staff before moving forward into the new market. This analysis needs to be completed early in the process as it can be time-consuming, and may require expertise in the new market as well. Furthermore, some markets will require compliance testing in certified labs (such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) in the USA). Such testing is costly and time-consuming. It is also important to understand any licensing requirements that may impact your ability to sell in the new market. Getting these regulatory issues identified and sorted early in the process is extremely important to the overall new market process. We have seen numerous cases where the company missed an important element in the regulatory requirements that caused them to undergo expensive product redesigns, or prevented movement into the new market entirely!


Question #3 - Does your company have the business capabilities to sell and support the product in the new market?


How will you market and sell your product in the new market? Do you have brand recognition in the market to support sales? Will you sell direct, or through a distributor model? Developing direct, in-market capabilities can be costly. But, using intermediaries such as distributors carries risks as well. The right answer to these questions will vary depending on the product and the company.


IIP Can Help


For more than 15 years, the team at IIP has helped Indian companies and entrepreneurs to launch new products and find new markets for existing products. IIP understands the intricacies of moving into new markets and has the experience to help you get it done right the first time. From market and regulatory analysis/compliance to market partner evaluation and selection, IIP can guide you every step of the way.


Contact us today to see how we can help you grow your markets.


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Happy new year, everyone! I hope 2021 will be a happy, and better year for us all!


I’d like to start off the new year by making you aware of an upcoming event that might be of value to you. As you may know, I’ve been actively working with Indian startups over the past 15 years.* So, if you are interested in startups, read on!


India has one of the world’s most rapidly developing startup ecosystems. They boast four major startup hubs (Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, and Bengaluru), and currently rank 3rd in the world for unicorns (startups valued at $1 billion+). If you are following the global startup scene, India is probably your watch list.


Startup India, a national startup program sponsored by the Government of India, is approaching its 5th anniversary in January. To commemorate this milestone, Startup India is hosting a global virtual conference on 15-16 January. Attendees to the conference will have access to a wide range of thinkers, movers, and shakers in the Indian startup ecosystem. This conference will be a great opportunity to learn more about their ecosystem and how to best engage with it.


If you are an investor, entrepreneurship educator, or startup enthusiast, with an interest in India’s startup scene, I encourage you to check out the Startup India International Summit.

Admission is free. Event and registration are located here:



I’ll see you there.


Best...Len



*(FYI: I’ve been engaged with Indian startups for the past 15 years through my associations with the IC2 Institute (University of Texas at Austin) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Note: FICCI is a partner in this event.)


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What will the world look like post-COVID - and how do we continue to innovate?

A Storm Has Struck


The global COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world’s economy like a typhoon slamming into a seaport. Docks and structures are wrecked. Some boats are damaged but still afloat. Other boats sank in the storm. And some boats just vanished, blown away, never to be seen again.


The pandemic has literally affected every human life on Earth and will continue to do so for some time to come. And if you are a business owner, entrepreneur, or innovator, you’re facing enormous uncertainty about what happens next.


But one thing is clear—you are going to have to pivot!


A Different Kind of Normal


No one really knows what the world or the economy will look like as we come out of this COVID storm. But one thing should be clear...


It won’t be the same as before!


Our definition of ‘normal’ will be changed as a result of the pandemic. Day by day, we are transitioning to a different kind of normal. Different in ways that will forever alter assumptions that our businesses and economic structures have been built upon for years.


So, if you are hanging on, waiting for the storm to pass and for things to get back to the old version of ‘normal,’ you may find yourself cruising into a very bad situation.


Innovating in a Post-COVID World


Every crisis brings an opportunity to those who are keenly watching for it, and the COVID pandemic is no exception. And if we are smart, we will use this time as an opportunity to clean up and reshape our businesses to succeed in the different normal that will emerge over the next few months. We can use this time to sharpen our focus and to do some spring cleaning in our businesses.


I believe that the next five years could be a time of amazing innovation!


That is, assuming that we approach it properly. Like almost everything else, this new version normal will require us to think in new ways. Therefore, I’d like for you to consider three ways to approach innovation differently in the Post-COVID world:


#1 Opportunities will abound – The pandemic has uncovered an enormous number of opportunities to change, remake, and improve the structures our lives were previously built upon. The opportunities can be found in diverse areas such as healthcare delivery, telemedicine, supply chains, digital bandwidth, business virtualization, and a thousand other areas. The list is actually endless. And in each case, the new solutions may look different than they would have pre-COVID. Be on the lookout for these new, post-COVID opportunities.


#2 Focus on problems – Now is the time to focus your business or innovation strategy on the problems we are surrounded by. Are you a talented mobile app designer? Then apply yourself to solving issues in telemedicine or rural drug distribution rather than building one more Tik-Tok clone. Are you a restaurateur? Perhaps you can focus on developing the new dining concept that will make it safe and economical for customers to enjoy a wonderful meal in a post-COVID world. Are you an engineer? Perhaps you could develop a new seating approach that will allow airlines to profitably and safely restart international air travel.


You get the idea. Look for problems that you can solve. Then, solve them. There will come a time when we can once again turn our creativity to meeting our desires instead of solving our problems. But that time is in the future. For now, focus on the problems.


#3 Need less – We are moving into a period of economic austerity. Innovation and entrepreneurship will have to change in this different normal in order to succeed. Innovators will need to devise leaner approaches where they need less from outside investors in order to succeed.


Traditional assumptions about access to capital are now obsolete, at least for the time being. In our post-COVID world, access to venture capital and other forms of outside funding will be harder to get than ever before. Therefore, proceed as if they aren’t available to you.


To succeed in this difficult environment, innovators and entrepreneurs will need to structure their projects and processes to be leaner and more focused. That will mean things like:


– Smaller teams doing more work cross-functionally

– Leveraging partnering opportunities to share and spread costs

– More focus on the definition and validation of customer needs prior to prototype builds, leading to fewer, more precise pivots

– Smaller, more focused MVPs (minimum viable products) with correspondingly smaller development budgets

– Minimizing and delaying outside investments until product viability can be proven


But, there is good news, even in a world of restrained capital like we are entering into. The good news is that there will always be investors willing to invest in projects that solve real problems with a solid economic outcome. Keep that in mind as you design your startup or new product launch to succeed in this new, different kind of normal.


As the sun rises on our post-COVID world, we will need more and better innovation than ever before. To succeed in this new environment, innovators and entrepreneurs will need to combine leaner and more economical innovation processes with a keen focus on solving the problems of our new normal. The winners will be rewarded!



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I write for small business owners and startup entrepreneurs who are trying to change the world with their new products and services. But before anyone can change the world, they have to get someone to buy their product. My personal mission is to help innovators win. I do that by helping them succeed in getting to market. How can we work together?


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