A short interview with Andres Mellik, Cognuse OÜ CEO suggesting that internationalisation is possible when you believe in your product and have the passion and mission behind it.
First step towards internationalisation. Young start-ups struggle in establishing an internationalisation strategy, based on the available resources. What would be your tip to them, to maximise the impact of their actions?
What we have done successfully in a couple of markets is actually engaging central cluster-like organisations both in Germany and the UK. We have done a preliminary search within their network for applicable healthcare customers to implement and also arranged the first meetings. The success rate of that strategy has been quite good for us in Germany, not so much in the UK. It was almost the only option in Germany because we didn’t have the credibility, and there was a language barrier in the regions we approached. Having a local partner was essential. Also, once you have the first reference partner, then it becomes easier. Nowadays, the good news is that you probably don't have to travel for each of these meetings. Follow-ups for these meetings for us have been virtual in all the countries. In short, my first recommendation would be to find an local partner. These may also be hospitals with a reputation in the region, but cluster-type organizations are key for us.
Hand-on experience. Could you please summarise the internationalisation activities of your company in few sentences?
The first involves the same cluster approach. The other one is getting some non-dilutive funding to look at partner countries, specifically in Estonia, for the foreign aid development, which has helped us with different countries. In addition, we used the resources and competencies of Enterprise Estonia. With this support, we have reached the highest leadership within the country organisation level leadership that we did, e.g. in India. At the same time, people should not underestimate the power of just going through their own network and the people you know. Mainly in the far-away countries, you are unable to travel to or are language or culture-wise a little bit too far from you, but are still big enough to implement your products.
In summary, based on your experience what is the ‘secret sauce’ for successful internationalisation?
Building some informative / learning or authoritative presence in marketing channels. Engaging in relevant topics, also connecting with visible professionals, they do not need to be key opinion leaders -but respected in the community. We have done that quite a bit. If you believe in your product, have the passion and mission behind it – at least in the healthcare sector - these are the key components.