To create a favorable Indian tech brand in the global market, I think we (India tech) have to bring out the best we have to offer, yet adhere to the most exacting global standards.
Product v/s Services
Traditionally India has been associated with outsourced services (including ITES, BPO, KPO) by global customers. While services is an attractive sector, it’s a competitive space, needs long term recurring client contracts, and the time to scale is thus fairly long. Moving to the products side – the perception of Indian global-oriented product companies has increased in prominence recently. Look at examples like Zoho, Freshdesk and our very own Mettl, Hotelogix, Webengage, at least half of our Blume portfolio is around tech products / platforms, and a large part of their user base is increasingly outside India. The more product companies come out of India, the better for ‘brand tech India’.
The right time to spread your wings & go global
It really depends on the market and product/service offering. No right answers, again, but let’s look at some examples. For e-commerce/retail companies, the Indian market is large enough to be focused solely here and dominate. In the case of SaaS/cloud/platform oriented companies, especially where user adoption can be regional/global, and where Indian sales cycles are long or users slower to adopt, ‘going global from day 1’ is becoming a strategy.
The Inmobi case
Inmobi is one company close to heart, where some of our fellow Mumbai Angels members and I have been early supporters.
It is interesting to note that almost the entire senior management team continues to be based out of India (much like Infosys and Wipro in the ITES space). They’ve been able to build a globally recognized brand ‘centered’ out of India itself. At the same time, they were very quick to expand into international markets almost immediately, first to SE Asia, then Africa/Europe and then of course the US. While the core and essence of their brand has been driven from India, their brand is truly global. If you walk into the Inmobi Bangalore HQ, you may think you are in Palo Alto, Tokyo or London. They have established global standards — not ‘US’ or ‘India’ standards.
Slideshare is another example of a global brand built across two shores — with one epicenter in San Francisco and the other in New Delhi.
To maximize the ‘global day 1 strategy’, you may need to quickly expand via an overseas presence in the Valley or Singapore (another destination where a handful of tech companies also have HQs now) so that right from day one, the company is viewed as ‘global’. The CEO and/or the Head of Sales can be based there, but the rest of the team doesn’t have to move. Another important aspect is that the overseas team act at the eyes and ears on the ground, constantly relaying customer preferences and needs, and benchmarking against the (newly discovered local) competition, so that the perception of the tech brand changes from an Indian to a global tech brand.