Three Ways to Globalize Your Business Right Now

April 26, 2015

10:00 am

Across all industries, businesses continue to challenge themselves with the question: how can we expand globally in order to help our business flourish? It’s an important question, as I have learned, and one that has no easy answer.

However, through my experiences as an innovator in the music industry with Traktor, a leading DJ software that has revolutionized the field, and e-learning sector with Babbel, a leading language learning app that offers 14 different languages, I’m going to share three ideas that can help lead to global success:

1. Develop a solid product.

If you believe in an idea, you have to keep on trying and keep on learning. Each setback is just there for you to try another approach until you get it right. Be bad at quitting and don’t be afraid to make decisions faster. It pays off to be brutally honest with yourself; make those mistakes early on in product development and move on. I’ve definitely learned many lessons along the way as the product is built in-house at Babbel and language-learning content is produced by a diverse team of education experts, authors and language teachers. This enables our team to really focus on the development of our product and continually adapt it to the needs of our global users based on user feedback. It also enables us to tackle each country and language separately.

 2. Hire people different than you.

Once you grow and the model is working, hire people who are better than you. And hire people who are different than you. An environment is certainly not limited to a company’s physical location. Babbel has now grown from 4 people to 300 people from 28 different countries. Fostering a unique and creative work environment and challenging team members to continue to explore and learn while implementing their findings goes a long way.

3. Jump into the unknown.

Iteration is key and you need to iterate fast if you want to grow your company. So when there’s a big idea, you just need to start somewhere and make improvements as you go along. I like to be involved in the company at all levels. That’s one of the reasons I moved my family from Berlin to New York when we opened this office. I wanted part of the company’s DNA here in the U.S. And of course key company decision-making is much simpler if I’m rubbing elbows with employees.

A final note to the wise innovators out there, never become stuck in your ways. Businesses, industries, technology – everything is continually changing – so enable yourself and your business to evolve with it. Always challenge yourself, technology and business model; a great way to do this is to pave a global path. Growth isn’t exciting without a little disruption.

What are your plans to globalize your business in 2015 and beyond?


Image Credit: Gez Xavier Mansfield

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Thomas Holl is the co-founder and president of Babbel, a market-leading language learning app. Since December 2014 he leads the company’s North American expansion. Before that he was Babbel’s CTO, where he led the development and the operation of the platform. Thomas co-founded his first company in the music software space where he created the first MP3 DJ tool while studying computer science at the University of Marburg and at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Subsequent to its sale to Native Instruments GmbH, he further developed and optimized the product into “Traktor” – the leading DJ software that has revolutionized the industry*. With his experience, he supported Accenture GmbH as a technical consultant for three years before he co-founded Babbel in Berlin in 2007. Thomas is a patent holder: