Expanding into a new market is an exciting time for start-ups but you should not rush into the decision to launch in another market without careful consideration, and planning if it is to be a success.
I founded my company Weroom in Paris in 2013. After a bad flatsharing experience, I wanted to launch a platform to match people to their ideal flatshare based on the personalities of the people living in it, not just the property itself. The launch was a success and Weroom has since grown rapidly to the extent that we have over 300,000 users globally and provide a platform for flatsharers in six countries.
These are the three considerations an entrepreneur should take into account before taking the leap into a new market:
Investigate the level of demand
The fundamental step that must be taken before expanding into another market is to examine whether there is a demand for your business in that respective market. When we launched in London in 2014, it was important to gain an understanding of the state of the rental market and to decide whether or not our business would meet the need of consumers.
If you find that there is an opportunity for your business to make an impact, then it is worth further exploring the possibilities of expansion and growth in that particular market. However, if you find that the market is already saturated with similar businesses to yours, it might be worth exploring other markets and identifying places where there is a higher demand and therefore, a stronger chance that your business will thrive.
It’s imperative that your business offers something different which your competitors do not provide, particularly if you are trying to penetrate a market whereby well-established competition already exists. This can be through a variety of ways such as being cheaper, convenient, accessible or personalised, to name but a few. Be sure to identify your unique selling point and make it clear to your audience that what your business can provide is different to those already in the marketplace. For example, what set us apart from other flatsharing services appealing to consumers was our focus on matching like-minded individuals rather than just letting out rooms.
Additionally, we are constantly looking for ways to benefit our users and landlords and recently launched our online booking platform which protects potential renters by allowing them 48 hours to investigate the new flatshare and flatmates before the first month’s rent is transferred to the landlord. This unique service has allowed us to stand out in a crowded space.
Boost your online presence
When it comes to grabbing the attention of consumers in new markets, having a solid social media following will allow them to understand your business as one that is already established and popular in other countries. Having a dedicated digital and social team will enable you to develop your social following and improve SEO to make sure that those in new markets can find out more about your company before you physically expand the business.
Since launching my business, I have learnt that investigating demand in new markets is a critical part of the expansion process above all else. It is the most reliable way of understanding whether or not your business will perform well in that market. As well as looking into the level of demand, taking the opportunity to scope out current competitors will enable you to identify what your company can deliver that others cannot. By doing this, your company can enter a market with a greater chance of success.
By Thomas Villeneuve, CEO, Weroom