Mistakes to avoid when going global, from local: In Conversation with Venkatesan, Founder Flatpebble

CIE brings to our Deeptech community,
Fire Up Founder Insights series, hosted by our COO, Mr. Ramesh Loganathan. The series is brought to you as a part of Startup Gyan Blog series by CIE-IIITH  where we feature our founders and talk about their Startup status and the journey so far through conversation on specific topics useful for other Deeptech startups and the community at large.

In Conversation with Venkatesan, Founder Flatpebble:

From being a consumer platform to becoming India’s largest On demand photography platform, Flatpebble’s intent is to provide to photographers with more consumer and business facing assignments.

“The idea is to digitise products/services catering to Roti, Kapda aur Makaan (Food, Clothes and Houses)”

We help our clients to document and catalogue products/services and help them to take it to market. If you’re still wondering how, open your favourite food app and see your mouth watering over those delicious dessert pictures – Those pictures are brought to you by Flatpebble!

So, how has been the journey for you and how did you identify a Global plate for your Platform?

The market learning for Flatpebble and many other startups is derived from understanding the fact that India is a populous country and most of the clients are not Cash-rich whereas in the US services are highly paid and companies are Cash-rich. There is a 10x price difference in what people are willing to pay in US as compared to in India.

The decision to go international has to be made looking at the appetite of the market and what problem you would be solving there. Founders have to be convinced that there is a market before actually taking off to overseas market.

Take a trip, stay for a few weeks and indulge. Find people from your contact list and friends of friends, based on your benchmark customers from India, which will make it easier to breakthrough. The unstructured and unfrozen calendar will lead you to make more connects. Go with the “Coffee pe Charcha” setup in an unofficial environment. Start from smaller businesses as they are easier to sell to.

“While the fundamentals for most of the startups remain the same, but there is surprisingly larger margins and higher ticket size to take away from international market, but you’ve got to choose the right one”

You can remote sell, but you cannot identify a problem remotely. You have to do a certain no. of trips. It is better for you to listen to brutal feedbacks than to ones willing to put in money without an understanding of your product, only to make your Startup bleed eventually.

The mistakes from your experience that Startups could avoid and be cautious of while going to international market:

Firstly, Do not take your Indian product and try to force-fit it in the International market.

“You have to go with a Blank slate, Listen to the market with an open mind”

This seems easy to pull off but there is a lot of resistance faced by a founder to not actually talk about the product that he/she has been pitching for a long time.

Secondly, There is no point in aiming for 150 meetings in 30 days.
You’re not selling, You’re discovering. Take that hint, formulate to Hypothesis, roll out an MVP and go back to same people who gave useful inputs to test it. Utilise your first few visits to get your Market positioning right.

One Growth Hack tip for Startups aiming for expanding overseas:

Go like you’re starting a new product, with a clear head and Go to San Francisco, no other place. Listen to the market over your pre-conceived notions and sales target.

Keep watching this space for more under Fire Up Series.
Stay safe and sound!

– Sunita Kumari, Team CIE