Spotify. Atlassian. Viber.
These companies got their start outside the U.S. and prove you don’t need to launch in Silicon Valley to be a global success. U.S. technology hubs continue to drive innovation and adoption of new technologies, but there is an increasing number of global technology companies launching from other countries. No matter where you start, entrepreneurs who can adopt a borderless mindset are more likely to create opportunities and make a significant impact.
It often doesn’t matter where you start
A couple of generations ago, where you were born often would have the biggest influence on your professional opportunities. This often isn’t the case anymore, as countless entrepreneurs have proven.
Elon Musk, for example, was born and raised in South Africa, but moved to Canada before launching Tesla and Space-X in the U.S. Satya Nadella (Microsoft) and Sundar Pichai (Google), both born in India, now lead two American technology giants.
Many are less well known at present. Adam Neumann was born in Israel, and spent most of his childhood in the Gaza Strip before moving to New York and launching WeWork. Jodie Fox, founder of the Australian-based Shoes of Prey, lives in the U.S. and ships her custom-designed shoes worldwide. Before turning 30, she was named one of the most influential women in retail by Forbes magazine.
Almost from day one, successful technology startups consider a global strategy. Apple, Google, Facebook and Uber may have first built a U.S. audience, but quickly became global tech leaders.
With a borderless mindset and a great product or service, you have a good chance to be successful in international markets.
Three ways to develop a borderless mindset
If you’re new to the idea of going global, here are three tips to consider when developing a global strategy for your tech company.
- Hire from an international pool
The wider you can cast your net when hiring, in your home county and beyond, the larger the base of talent from which to choose the best employees. Geopolitical forces and immigration laws sometimes get in the way, but you will be in the best position if you start with an open mind and not allow borders to restrict your outreach.
- Focus on the best global opportunities
Similarly, don’t restrict your focus to domestic markets. The rapid spread on new technologies, mobile commerce and automation is opening up new economic agendas and opportunities. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum emigrated from the Ukraine to Silicon Valley, where he launched the international messaging service phenomenon. Worldwide, 450 million users have adopted the service because of the attraction of sending texts at no cost to any location and on any device. In 2014, Facebook bought the company for $19 billion, citing its global user base.
- Prepare your business for global expansion
One of the key steps is to “think globally” from the outset. While your company’s initial target audience may be domestic, begin to research market opportunities in other countries. Be a fast and eager learner, understand the culture and ways of doing business in the target global market and find the right people or partners so you are ready to execute when the time is ripe. Airbnb, for example, expanded aggressively to
191 countries in just eight years by focusing on product localization and content marketing for each target country.
Let SVB be your guide
Over the past 15 years, Silicon Valley Bank has helped innovators, investors and their partners achieve their global expansion goals. The SVB Global Gateway group works with many international funds and VC-backed technology companies and through our international network we help U.S. companies expand globally. SVB has offices in the U.K., China and Israel, and works with partners in many additional countries. We partner with Stripe to support international entrepreneurs. Through the Stripe Atlas Program, international entrepreneurs may gain access to basic tools to start an international business.
If you are looking for an experienced financial partner as you consider going global, SVB can help you. Connect with us at