How to move your startup to a scaleup
Please tell us more about the Enterprise Europe Network. Who participates in the network? What is the aim of the network?
The EEN is the world´s largest network to help companies innovate and grow, according to the European Commission puts it. It is an EU-initiated network active in over 60 countries with 600 organisations and over 3000 experts. Typically, members are economic development agencies or technology transfer organisations, sometimes also chambers of commerce or universities.We support all companies in our region, for us this is Hessen, in developing innovation management capacities, finding international partners and finding the right funding. We also help the companies to become sustainable.
How do you support startups, which want to scale up and to go international?
The straightforward topics of startups are finding the right international sales partners, the right equity investor or the right project funding. But our offer is more comprehensive: we help with EU funding applications, we help with pitch trainings, we organise startup missions abroad (e.g. Silicon Valley), we inform about international acceleration opportunities, we have the experts to look at the business model and develop it in a variety of niches. We offer deep dive 1:1 workshops on innovation or sustainability.Let´s take the example of an organic ice cream maker. We look at the business plan and the target markets – and find sales partners in Eastern Europe and Japan. After a dedicated pitch training for the US market the startup joins a mission to Silicon Valley. As contacts were prepared beforehand, the mission succeeds in establishing valuable personal contacts with a sales contract being fixed after the trip. For enabling, i.e. prefinancing, this growth, EEN finds an investor via its funding event “Matching Series A”. The EEN innovation deepdive shows some room for improvement in the area of employee involvement, while the sustainability deepdive provides ideas to further lower the CO2-footprint. To be fair, this is a mix of existing stories, but companies are usually interested in more than one of these (free) services.
EEN also offers innovation consultancy. How do you support the innovation process? How does this offer relate to your focus on internationalization?
We have a 3-4 hours workshop at the client´s premises and together we look at the whole innovation value chain from idea creation to market introduction. This also involves a variety of internal processes, so there are 2-4 people (usually C-level) from the company in this workshop. As a result there will be an international benchmarking report and a detailed suggestion of what could be done in various areas. Finally, we also help implementing these suggestions, if the company wants.We cover both topics, innovation and internationalisation. But as our service is free, we prefer companies that are (or aim to be) internationally active.
What advice do you have for startups that are striving for internationalization?
Look at your language competencies and your target markets. Explain to yourself why these markets fit your business model. Have a look at international staff in your home region. Involve your regional Enterprise Europe Network partner (e.g. HTAI) as early as possible. Look for international markets and competitors well before your national market is saturated.