How Does L10N Help Unicorns Grow?


How Does L10N Help Unicorns Grow?

What do SpaceX, Reddit, and Instacart have in common? 

Aside from being household names, they’re all among the close to one thousand so-called unicorns or privately-owned companies valued at over $1 billion. These are the companies that venture capitalists predict—often correctly—will have a massive, disruptive, and global influence on their industry. While unicorns vary dramatically in size and focus, they are distinguished by several characteristics, including visionary thinking and the practical, strategic knowledge necessary to build a global reach. At the junction of these two traits is a digital-first mindset, which primes leadership to build dynamic and wide-reaching products.

The success of companies that cultivate these traits reflects a broader shift toward early global expansion. At one time, international expansion was cost-prohibitive for all but the most well-funded businesses. Today, with the world rapidly becoming more and more digitalized, those barriers are coming down. 

To successfully navigate the digitalized global economy, leaders should seek business partners who can connect authentically with global audiences. The resulting international engagement helps companies of all sizes achieve their growth goals.

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What Can We Learn From Unicorns?

Most startups will never come close to becoming unicorns. Although more companies than ever reached unicorn status in 2021, the overall percentage is still tiny. So what kinds of companies can make it through multiple grueling rounds of funding and come out with a $1B valuation? And, more importantly, what can we learn from these companies?

While many assume that unicorns succeed due to their profitability, that’s almost never true. On the contrary, many unicorns are actually losing money. That’s because valuation is based on the potential investors see in a company rather than its current performance. They understand that newer companies might operate at a loss to gain market share and that their real profit opportunity comes from a good exit.

Rather than being the most profitable startups, unicorns are the ones investors think will make them the biggest profit—the ones with the potential to achieve a buy-out or a successful IPO. While no traits guarantee that a startup will be successful, investors look for global readiness and a digital-first mentality as critical indicators of growth potential. Companies that recognize the world’s increasing connectivity and have the prowess to capitalize on it will come out on top.

How Digital Drives Growth

If mastering the digital space was necessary a few years ago, it’s imperative in the (post) pandemic world, where audiences have come to expect digital offerings that meet or exceed their brick and mortar or face-to-face counterparts. That’s where the Digital First philosophy comes in.

Digital First doesn’t mean having an online presence or mastering digital marketing, though both are important. In fact, it doesn’t refer to a single strategy at all. Instead, Digital First is a way of viewing your company and your audience as players in an evolving digital world.  How can your company use digital to reach and serve audiences with different needs? At the same time, how can digital support your internal team and scaffold future growth? These sorts of questions are central to achieving a future-proof digital presence.

A Digital First leadership team recognizes the role that technology plays at each stage in the customer journey. It emphasizes flexibility, innovation, and creativity in the use of technology to seize opportunities. And it tailors its use of digital media to different audiences. 

Companies that embrace digital integration have the agility to adapt both their messaging and their product offerings to changing markets. That’s the kind of leadership that can turn a concept into a $1B startup. 

Global Readiness & Growth Potential

A Digital First strategy gives your company the tools to address nearly any challenge. What’s more difficult is knowing what needs are keeping your customers up at night, and what their ideal solutions look like. That’s why Digital First must be practiced with a global dimension in mind.

Global readiness requires deep reflection on how different end-users expect to interact with your product and brand. A truly global-ready brand doesn’t simply translate content, it translates experiences, using different media assets to convey the same brand values. In doing so, it builds authentic relationships with users in different markets. More surface-level localization may cost less in the short term, but it compromises the connection you need to build a loyal user base abroad.

The most significant hurdle entrepreneurs face after proving a viable product is scaling their business globally. Incorporating global readiness into your Digital First strategy maximizes potential market share and proves to investors that you can reach diverse audiences.

Look no further than the emergence of International User-Experience which has most designers fully immersed in creating globally relevant content, and in personalization. 

The Explosion of Localization (and How it Helps Unicorns Grow)

Localization sits at the intersection of global readiness and Digital First. Although commonly confused with translation, localization is far broader, seeking to fully integrate your brand experience into a new cultural context. Skilled translation that accounts for linguistic nuance is part of localization, but so are steps as diverse as:

  • Incorporating relevant cultural references into marketing materials
  • Optimizing websites so that they are both technically and stylistically compatible with the target audience 
  • Establishing payment options that accommodate different currencies and that align with regional preferences
  • Adapting policies to conform with different international regulations (such as EU data protection laws)
  • Implementing multilingual customer support channels

To properly engage international audiences, you must make it easy and comfortable for them to engage with you. That means your entire presence should be as welcoming, accessible, and intuitive to a Chinese user as it is to a Spanish or American user. And just as important, it should stay as welcoming, accessible, and intuitive when you push updates and improvements.

This sort of agile, transformative localization process has become much more available in recent years. Technological advances such as machine learning and accessible APIs have enabled process innovation and automation. Localization is now a key to unlocking new audiences and massive expansion. With the help of modern technology and skilled cross-cultural communicators, any company that is truly committed to global readiness can achieve its localization goals.

Whether your company is already maturing, or a foal taking first steps toward unicorn-dom, you need vibrant and authentic localized content. Content that aligns with every stage of growth for your team and your international stakeholders. From progressive start-up to unicorn and all the way to IPO and beyond.