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Go global: How London SMEs can crack new markets

by LLB Reporter
18th Apr 18 3:27 pm

Sign up for the Mayor’s International Business Programme today

If you own a fast-growing, revenue-generating business in London in technology, life sciences, creative or urban infrastructure sector and are actively looking for a launch pad to grow internationally, the Mayor’s International Business Programme (MIBP) is tailored perfectly to fit your global growth vision.

Celebrating some of the fastest-growing, innovative companies in London, 2017 was a stellar year with cohort members expanding into new markets, creating jobs, closing deals and opening new offices overseas including Century Tech, Yoti Ltd, McLEAR & Takumi. This exclusive programme provides a bespoke, on-the-ground mentoring scheme to SMEs. Expert advice is delivered by leading entrepreneurs and business leaders along with access to targeted trade missions, live leads and opportunities.

We caught up with Soline Kauffmann-Tourkestansky, the Global Head of Ecosystem at pan-European agency Early Metrics. She shared her experiences from the programme, how the programme serves as a platform to connect fellow venture builders who are going through similar challenges, and how mentorship shaped her vision.

Tell us about your rating agency for start-ups and SMEs, Early Metrics?

Soline Kauffmann-Tourkestansky

Source: @EarlyMetrics

Early Metrics is the pan-European rating agency for start-ups. We assess a tech venture’s growth potential by analysing key non-financial metrics related to the Team, the Innovation and the Ecosystem. Our mission is very straightforward: to bring transparency and reliability in a tech ecosystem that grows increasingly complex each day.

Our clients are senior decision-makers in blue-chip companies, institutional actors and investors who are looking for an independent third-party assessment to support their investment or business decisions. The service is free for the entrepreneurs to avoid any conflict of interest.

I was recruited to support the agency’s development on both the UK and international markets. Since I joined in 2016, we opened two new offices in Tel Aviv and Berlin in addition to London and Paris and currently serve over 160 international clients for which we have rated over 1500 ventures.

How can fast-growing firms make the most of the Mayor of London’s International Business Programme?

The Mayor’s International Business Programme is curated to suit its members’ needs. It is therefore important that companies who get selected express to the programme team how they can support them, specifically ahead of the various trade missions that are organised abroad. During those trade missions, participants are put in touch directly with potential leads on their target markets, shortening the sales cycles. The various events held also bring a lot of value. Although they are not compulsory, I would advise CEOs to take part as they will get exposed to entrepreneurs who have successfully launched, scaled and exited their businesses.

I would encourage every company who has participated in the Programme to pay it forward, whether by spreading the word, or providing services in kind. This will strengthen the community and the network, and ultimately benefit the founders.  

How important is mentorship for growing your business globally?

Mentorship is at the cornerstone of success. Whether formal or informal, I believe no entrepreneur can succeed without the support of people who have “been there, done it”.

You went on to receive the Ambassador for the Programme Award. What was the experience like?

I was very surprised but proud to receive the award. The Mayor’s International Business Programme supports entrepreneurs and companies who are looking to scale their business in new markets. Whether you are looking for advice on how to build an efficient board, first point of entry in various markets, or visibility thanks to the Mayor’s brand, Laura Citron, Janet Coyle and the whole London & Partners team has always been very supportive.

As an Ambassador, I am happy to continue to promote the Programme amongst our network and community of rated entrepreneurs.

As a woman entrepreneur in the UK, how do you maintain work-life balance?

Early Metrics

Source: @EarlyMetrics

If you are an entrepreneur or work in a start-up, work-life balance is messed up, whether you are a man or a woman. Building a business from scratch requires 200% energy. Beyond the glitz and glam, people going into entrepreneurship need to understand that it can certainly be exhilarating and highly stimulating, but also demanding – emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

For a woman, it’s specifically tricky. Entrepreneurship can be a great way to find ourselves and excel in a context where we can set our own rules. If the company reaches a certain level of growth, a woman – or man – CEO can decide how to create an environment conducive to a healthy work-life balance.

Prevalent gender biases mean women entrepreneurs always need to put extra effort to success.

We also don’t talk enough about mother entrepreneurs. A mother who is also a business owner will have challenges in maintaining an ideal work-life balance: she is unlikely to enjoy full maternity leave, might face extra financial stress, and pressure about parenting expectations.

Looking to expand your business overseas in 2018:

Having already helped over 400 companies realise their ambitions for international growth, the programme is now searching for its next cohort of companies to take overseas. Open to fast-growing companies in London operating in four broad sectors: technology, life sciences, urban and creative, if you want to follow in the footsteps of Early Metrics, make sure you apply to the exclusive programme via gotogrow.london.

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