Entrepreneurs Sans Frontières

Ideas can travel around the world in 140 characters. But an entrepreneur is more often to be rooted in place tethered to a nurturing ecosystem as they develop their business. How can we help the entrepreneur explore new markets across borders that can provide new stimuli for their vision and in so doing fortify their model and accelerate their growth?

A new market in a different country represents new ideas, fresh talent, additional investors and more clients. This represents a significant opportunity for startups who grow up in Canada beside a southern neighbor with a market size of 10x or more for their inspiration. The opportunity is not to displace or transplant the Canadian-based innovation but to strengthen the overall business by successfully tapping into what a new region offers.

But how does an entrepreneur explore the opportunity for his/her idea to take root in a market outside of their country?

There are excellent investment-centric networking programs connecting Canadian startups to Silicon Valley but what if the end game is not finding an investor but navigating a new market for product or market validation, funding yes too, but also sales and partner opportunities and the potential to open a satellite office staffed with in-market talent? It requires finding the right match based on the sector, business goals, business and even lifestyle. Is this a place where my business can grow? Can a presence in this region strengthen my overall business based in Canada? Is there a lifestyle match for our team? So in this hyper-connected world of ideas, knowledge sharing and daily conversation, how do we physically connect the entrepreneur to a new market with expert navigation that saves the startup time and money and leads to more informed growth decisions?

Enter Entrepreneur Tourism™.  A model of expert market navigation tailored to a startup’s business needs that enables an entrepreneur to assess the fit of a market or region as a place to penetrate the American market.  Now imagine a turnkey model that integrates air travel, ground transportation, work space and accommodations with the business networking and on-the-ground market intelligence as part of a turnkey model for a week or month. What is the value to a brand sponsor in any of these sectors by supporting such a program that facilitates future investment and business in the local region, connects them with innovative businesses and engenders brand loyalty?   

The ingredients for such a program can be found in a business network operating in a region on behalf of the entrepreneur’s home country. Within these networks are domain experts, brands, expatriate executives, subsidiaries of international parents and long-term in-market residents sensitive to the questions a traveling entrepreneur will have about the new region, and in many cases, experienced in making the transition themselves. In other words, they represent market navigators.

Today’s start-up entrepreneur need not break away from the ecosystem that nurtures them in Canada or elsewhere but instead embrace the opportunity to be an “entrepreneur sans frontières” with the help of a connected community across a border engaged in a structured model of market navigation.

Its time for Entrepreneur Tourism™.

Stephen Armstrong is co-founder of MAPLE Business Council, a non-profit senior executive council focused on promoting investment, trade and entrepreneurship between Canada and Southern California. Stephen is principal of The 360 Marketer, a marketing consultancy. For more information on MAPLE, please visit www.maplesocal.com.