We believe that one of the biggest challenges in the life of a startup is when they decide to open in a new market. It is the most challenging, the most exciting and the most strategic time in the life of many startups. For many companies, this will be going into the unknown, like climbing a new mountain: a new culture, a new regulatory regime, a new marketing approach, and a new need to build a sales team – all potentially in another language!
We know this is a challenge because we’ve been through it ourselves. Our founder and team have worked and succeeded in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. We learned a lot from the process with our own companies and know what it takes to successfully open in a new market. However, as entrepreneurs, we were very surprised that there was no support for companies making this strategic leap. That’s why we founded 7Mountains. We’ve built a team of experts in business strategy, marketing, law, finance, talent management, and sales needed to open a new market. Now, we help entrepreneurs expand strategically to new markets every day.
If you look at the most successful European startups: from Klarna in Sweden to Monzo in the UK and Dataiku in France; they describe themselves as international companies that just happened to be founded in Europe. That’s because they are now successful international brands who have adapted their strategies to go global. In fact, these companies received significantly higher valuations after they opened the U.S. or, in some cases, actually used opening the U.S. specifically to raise money.
It makes sense that the more global a company is, the higher the valuation. If you’re a French company and have conquered the French market, then you don’t have much room to grow. On the other hand, if you proved your software value in France and then expanded to the U.S. and the rest of Europe, then your total addressable market is much bigger and so is your valuation.
Anyone who’s tried to open up in a new market knows the challenges. Sometimes, the regulations seem to be unconquerable: For example, you need to have a visa to open a bank account and set up a company, but you need a visa to set up a company in the first place! The complexity of the regulations is enough to make your head spin. Then once you’ve worked your way through that, you need to figure out how to recruit, manage the tax code, how to adapt your sales and marketing and how to reposition yourself for the new market. Working to open up in a new market can become a frustratingly slow full-time job for the directors of your startup.
Our vision is to make this process simple. We’ve been through this with our own companies and remember how complicated it was. Our goal is to make it simple for you. We’ve built a team of experts in all the relevant domains so that we can manage the process of helping you open in a new market. We like to say it’s opening in a new market without the headaches.
Our founder, Olivier Njamfa was born in the town of Nkongsamba in Cameroon. The name translates to “7 Mountains.” Growing up Olivier learned from a young age that just because you could climb one of the mountains didn’t mean you could climb them all. Each mountain had a different character and required different strategies. Seasoned mountaineers would get advice from guides for each mountain before trying to reach the summit.
These local 7 mountains are like a microcosm. Every continent (even Antarctica) has its highest peak and the world’s elite mountaineers dream of summiting these 7 mountain peaks to conquer each continent. However, these elite climbers will tell you that just because they climbed Everest doesn’t mean they’re ready for Kilimanjaro or Denali. Instead, these climbers rely on local knowledge, on sherpas who guide them and help them adapt to conquer each peak.
This approach of relying on a sherpa, even if you’re successful in your own country is what Olivier found most successful global companies doing. Just because a company was successful in Europe doesn’t mean the same strategy works in Asia or North America. At 7Mountains, our ambition is to be the ‘"sherpa," or local guide, to help our clients reach the peak of every mountain they want to climb across the globe.
Expanding entrepreneurs, we know what is the fair price and how to execute with velocity.