Throughout the last several months, I spoke with another five key personalities behind notable Brno-based companies (some of them their founders) that succeeded internationally in doing business from our city. Some answers did not make it into the interviews but it would be a pity were you to miss them – so we made this compilation.
The question was: What would your advice be to Brno companies seeking success abroad? What would you do differently if you could go back to the beginning?
Here are the 5 answers:
Tomáš Kratochvíl (RWS Moravia)
You should talk to someone who expanded internationally and globally and ask them to be your business coach. Being an expert on your product is different from being an expert on international expansion. There are best practices and there are DOs and DONTs. You want to know what they are in order not to waste money and time when reaching your xenorevenues growth.
When recruiting talents I would put a higher priority on their approach, attitude and character of people and especially for their eagerness to learn, rather than focusing on their experience and even their skills. The biggest value – when building a high performing team – is trust among the key members of management and the organization. For some critical hires, I was slow in recognizing that. When you have talent with the perfect attitude, approach, the right character and the eagerness to learn, experience and skills will develop fast. But vice-versa, it doesn’t always work so.
Read the whole interview with Tomáš and RWS Moravia here.
Jiří Tobola (Flowmon)
Know your market and keep a balance between your technology and go-to-market (sales and marketing) investment. A poor product with great marketing or a great product with poor marketing will most likely end in the same way.
Read the whole interview with Jiří and Flowmon here.
Roman Hladík (2K Czech)
The game industry is and has always been a global business. As such, we always had to compare ourselves with other game studios around the world and compete on that scale. Of course it may be easier to do so with a digital product but I believe it applies in all other industries as well. You have to deliver quality and compare your products with the others on the market.
On top of that, the game industry develops quickly so you always have to be up to date with its trends and technology. You have to learn all the time and never be satisfied with your current achievements. And you must love what you do. That is what gives you an advantage over your competitors.
What I would do differently if I could? Nothing. Obviously, we made a lot of mistakes but mistakes are what you learn from. Thanks to them you gain your mastery. You just have to keep going and learning.
Read the whole interview with Roman and 2KCzech here.
Petr Janošík (Smartlook)
When working on software development, don’t hesitate to start globally from the first day. Have English as the primary language and target foreign markets. Do not be afraid to go large, have big ambitions. Do not lose time – focus on spreading the product and only then on earning money.
Be clear about your strategy and the target groups. It does not matter to start with small clients and later chase the bigger ones, but you should know why doing so and regularly communicate it to your team.
Read the whole interview with Petr and Smartlook here.
Jiří Kovář (UNIS)
Bill Gates once said that cooperation with IBM in his beginnings was key for him. He called it riding a bear. We do it in a similar way. For every new business area or territory, we always try to find not only a customer, but also a partner we can grow with. We call it a lift. The first one was Austrian Honeywell in 1990 (it did not have an office in Czechoslovakia at that time). ABB, Motorola and others followed later.
Build a cooperating team, including a visionary defining the product & goals. A group that is able to realize the product (the visionary can do it only sometimes) and a salesman. We have good technical skills in Brno, so do not be afraid of competing with bigger established firms. Speed and flexibility make for a big advantage for smaller firms. Learn from others and also from your own mistakes – you can never avoid those anyway. Choose your foreign partners carefully. There is a lot of consultants and agencies promising anything under the skies, but they often bring cost with no added value in the end.
Every decision we made depended on the conditions and time of when it was being made. Not only that, but you’re also affected by your assumptions of future development. From today’s perspective, I would speed up the decision of becoming the competitor of my customers (the switch from subcontractor to the main supplier). It’s always a sensitive moment when approaching customers of your customer – you logically lose some of your current customers. Anyway, it means the crucial step in the company development bringing more grey hair onto your head.
Read the whole interview with Jiří and UNIS here.