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10 Strategies to Expand Business Globally After the Pandemic — Raymon Pouwels, CEO of GO Sharing

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Moving a small or emerging business to the international front is a complex and dynamic process, let alone after a pandemic upended the global economy. Would you still proceed with your expansion plans despite the economic uncertainty?

No market has been entirely shielded from the pandemic shock waves. This is a challenge but also a potential opportunity. While many of your competitors may be holding back, now may be the right time to push ahead with your global business expansion plans.

You have a choice – Either to innovate and take risks to transform your operations or be stagnant. We spoke to GO Sharing Co-Founder and CEO Raymon Pouwels who has the answers to do it effectively. He shared his story with us and provided tips on how to prepare for international expansion.

What’s Inside?

  1. The Challenges Behind Extending Beyond Your Borders
  2. 10 Strategies to Expand Your Business Global
  3. Lesson Learned
  4. Who is Raymon Pouwels?

The Challenges Behind Extending Beyond Your Borders

New opportunities to grow your business beyond your current market don’t come along every day. Expanding your business by opening an office in a new location is not possible without challenges.

Initial investment costs, hiring a local workforce, reaching the right target audience, and increased marketing expenses are all factors to consider when introducing your brand to a new local market.

There are 4 main challenges that may have a direct impact on the success of your expansion strategy:

●  Risks to your supply chain due to international laws, trade deals, and other complex legislation;

●  Attracting new talent while retaining your and retaining your current team;

●  Getting the attention of new clients who have never heard of you;

●  Understanding your competition in the new market.

10 Strategies to Expand Your Business Global

With proper research of the market, effective planning, and resourceful, many companies can find their success in the foreign market. Some of the strategies we recommend include:

1. Start With One City and Expand

GO Sharing is an app that offers shared electric vehicles as a new, flexible way of transportation. It currently operates in 6 countries and 50 cities and estimates its business to grow.

As Co-Founder and CEO of GO Sharing, Raymon expanded the company into 39 different cities and grew his team by 318%, making shared mobility available to everyone, despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So how did we grow so fast? The company first started in Eindhoven, the place where they proved their strategy worked. Once we saw success in that one place, we applied the same approach in 30 different cities.

When expanding into other markets, we are guided by saying “Every penny you don’t spend, you don’t have to earn”. We focus on lowering costs, not needing much revenue, and being profitable at the same time.

2. You Don’t Need a Huge Marketing Budget to Start

When we started GO Sharing, we didn’t have any marketing budget except to get customers in.

The only thing I wanted to do with our marketing efforts was to create brand awareness and ensure that everyone will use our e-scooter sharing system daily.

This way, we don’t need to spend so much money on marketing to attract customers. We want to ensure that everyone who will see different rental providers on the street will always choose GO Sharing.

Currently, we have a marketing department of seven people who focus on getting loyal customers on board and ensuring they are satisfied. In parallel, we promote our brand on our social media channels to get closer to our customers.

3. Rise Above Challenges

I believe that during COVID everyone learned the importance of being lean-and-mean. We also managed to stay open-minded and ensure we were not stuck on one strategy.

With COVID-19 at its peak, no one went to work. No one was outside, so nobody needed to rent a scooter. However, we managed to launch in 20 different cities during COVID-19.

How did we do this? By hiring people with a winner’s mentality, who own the project no matter the circumstances, and always want to succeed.

4. Accept That You Shouldn’t Do Everything Yourself

Many companies build the software, manage the operations and servers themselves. I believe this is the wrong strategy.

Our experience showed that if we want to scale fast, we shouldn’t do everything ourselves.

Instead, we focused on building strong partnerships and using other companies’ capabilities to scale much faster than others. This approach really worked for us.

5. Create a Company With a Mission to Attract Employees

GO-Sharing is known for the fastest-growing startup in Benelux. Why are they growing at such a fast pace?

We started GO Sharing because we wanted to make a real impact on our environment. So many projects say that they will see an impact in 10 years. We wanted to make an immediate impact in every city we operate in.

Two years after starting GO Sharing, we have saved 2000 tons of CO2. People believe that shared mobility is the future to protect the environment and make an impact, therefore many people aspire to work for them.

It’s interesting to see how many car trips we saved and how much CO2 we spare from every trip, how many people don’t need to buy a vehicle, and so on.

We hope that in 10 years, kids won’t ask their parents for a car because shared mobility will be the new normal. This is a massive mission to pursue since only 0.1% of all vehicles are shared. We have a long way to go!

6. Hire the First 50 People Yourself

WOM is one of the most trusted forms of WOM as most customers trust their friends or relatives over advertisements or media.

One of our most successful campaigns was showing our e-scooters on the streets and saying nothing about it. For example, in Brussels, 500 green e-scooters just appeared in one day. This intrigued people to discover what the scooters were about and how they appeared so suddenly. We got a lot of traffic on the website because people were curious about it.

Another marketing tactic we use is a friend’s discount. If you invite someone to use our scooters, you both get additional driving minutes. We are just using the power of mouth-to-mouth marketing.

7. Invest in Mouth-To-Mouth Marketing

Every decision we make is data-driven. Therefore the first step is to identify issues or opportunities and decide what step to take next.

For example, to plan our next marketing campaign, we track how many people used the app, made rentals, how many of those people invited new people, etc. This allows us to see the full customer lifecycle. From the first investment to one year later, how many people are still using our service? Everything we do in marketing we want to measure. We don’t do anything offline because that’s not measurable.

We don’t need 20 or 30 different KPIs – just one or two to measure if we are doing a good job or not. We mainly focus on customer acquisition and customer retention.

8. Use Data to Identify Your Next Steps

Every decision we make is data-driven. Therefore the first step is to identify issues or opportunities and decide what step to take next.

For example, to plan our next marketing campaign, we track how many people used the app, made rentals, how many of those people invited new people, etc. This allows us to see the full customer lifecycle. From the first investment to one year later, how many people are still using our service? Everything we do in marketing we want to measure. We don’t do anything offline because that’s not measurable.

We don’t need 20 or 30 different KPIs – just one or two to measure if we are doing a good job or not. We mainly focus on customer acquisition and customer retention.

9. Utilise the Power of Your CRM

Since we have over a million customers in our system, we use a vast CRM tool to achieve our marketing and sales goals.

When users download the app, they do it because they want to use the service, but they still may not be sure how they want to use it – for work, to visit a friend’s place, to explore a new city, etc.

As we get deeper into the funnel, we can categorise each customer and apply these insights to create personalised emails, which speak directly to what they’re trying to accomplish with our app.

If we see customers using the app daily, we try to activate them for membership with a discount. If they use the vehicles only to get to work, we invite them to try the business options with a monthly overview of the rides, which are easier for companies to use.

10. Apply the Power of Artificial Intelligence in Your Daily Operations

We use AI in our daily operations to help us see where we need to swap vehicles, when we need to change batteries, and when people are driving. We can easily find patterns to help us predict behavior – Whether the demand for e-scooters is higher or lower based on factors like whether the university is open, if the weather is good, etc.

We connect many data points to help us know when we need vehicles and where they should be placed. For example, if a vehicle has been standing in the same place for an extended period, you can get a higher discount for using it.

During COVID, data was tough to use. But now, when everything is going back to normal, data is helping us provide a better service.

With data, we are aware of the number of people we need for the operations, where the vehicles need to be, how we can help more customers with the same number of vehicles, etc. The customer should always have a vehicle whenever they need it.

Lessons Learned 

  • You don’t need a big marketing budget to promote your brand. Just be creative with your campaigns and think out of the box to ensure that customers will always choose you.
  • Hire the first 50 people by yourself, because they will be the foundation of your company. You will have less work to do if you choose the right people.
  • Apply the power of data and Artificial Intelligence to work more efficiently by predicting what resources you will need for upcoming operations.

Who is Raymon Pouwels?

 

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