When our startup Agent Anything, a job marketplace for students, was selected as one of 10 companies to be a part of ANZ Innovyz Start, an accelerator in Adelaide, Australia, we were excited. Not only is ANZ Innovyz Start a member of the Global Accelerator Network which includes other top accelerators like TechStars and Excelerate Labs, but it also provided an opportunity for us to scale our company internationally -- something we wanted to do from the get-go.
But why Adelaide, South Australia? The city was in our original expansion plans, as it included a high student population and had good public transportation, which made it seem like a perfect international test market.
Plus ANZ Innovyz Start has world-class mentors, like managing director Dr. Jana Matthews, a growth expert and a senior member of the founding team for the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. These leaders knew what it took to make global companies, and I don't feel we would've received the same insight in the U.S. so early on.
While it was a great learning experience, traveling thousands of miles to join an accelerator way not easy.
In some ways, it was almost like launching a company from scratch -- everything from considering time zone differences on our website to currency and payment processors needed to be revisited.
Also when going overseas, companies need to look at all sorts of local issues, such as legal and regulatory environments and different cultural norms.
That said, I am glad I took advantage of this opportunity. Thinking about being an accelerator globetrotter? Here is why I recommend it:
Allows you to test scalability. If you want to see how your business would do in a new location, you should get your hands dirty by testing the target demographic.
We went to university campuses around Adelaide and signed up hundreds of students in just days. This helped us see if our idea was something we could bring to other countries and determine the most efficient way to do it, so it becomes easier next time around.
Get a global perspective early on for your startup. There's so many issues and requirements other countries may have on businesses, like taxes and registrations, that a startup needs to know about. Plus cultural differences are a whole other ball of wax.
It isn't as simple as thinking what worked in the U.S. will work overseas. When you understand how you must adjust your business, you can optimize it for global expansion.
Meet people with worldly experiences. Going to Australia meant we worked with people who introduced us to new ideas we hadn't ever considered before and fresh perspectives on our business, like how to be competitive in new markets. By learning about new viewpoints, your business may be adapt quicker to new enviroments.
Opens your eyes. Going to an overseas accelerator immerses yourself in different ways business can be run and helps you with future proofing your business. For example, it gives you the perspective of the things you will encounter as you grow and think internationally.
What experiences have you had at international accelerators? Let us know in the comments below.