Expanding overseas is a challenging stepping stone. To take this leap, businesses must mitigate risks and discover best practices for entering the new market.
To help businesses make this advancement, we are happy to share our discussion about expanding to Asia with Nathanael Noiraud, Founder & CEO of N-Strategy Consulting Services.
Could you please introduce your organisation? What type of services do you offer foreign companies looking for new business opportunities in Asia?
At N-Strategy Consulting Services (NSCS), we enable and accelerate the expansion of Tech Startups and innovative SMEs from other continents in Asia-Pacific. Our partners and clients benefit from our network, regional expertise, and in-house talents. These resources enable the businesses to conquer new markets with very limited risks.
NSCS was founded in 2016 by seasoned expatriates and Asian talents. Our Senior Management Team comprise of former Top Executives in Asia-Pacific for renown companies such as Google, Gameloft, Seek, Accenture, Publicis and IBM. Today, we are the trusted advisor and business partner to over 15 companies from Europe, Americas, Asia and Oceania.
NSCS is recognised as a key player in APAC across various sectors including mobile technologies, artificial intelligence, digital services, telecommunication, online business, neurosciences and other high-tech sectors.
In a nutshell, we develop tailor-made strategies for expanding in APAC, and execute the Go-To-Market plans accordingly. Overall, our flagship services include:
– Market Studies & Go-To-Market Strategies
– Asia-Pacific Strategy Building
– Market Entry Expertise
– Business Development & Sales Management
– Entity Setup and Management
– Online Strategy Building
– Top Level Lobbying
– M&A and Fundraising
Which countries would you recommend for businesses looking to setup in Asia, and why?
There is a multitude of favourable attributes in cities such as Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) or Singapore, making these locations very attractive as regional hubs. The benefits of such locations include:
– Sound level of infrastructure development
– Geographical convenience due to ease in fly in/out of Asia
– Business friendly law and regulations
– Little to no language barrier (high English proficiency)
– Attractive Government incentives
– Ability to find and hire local talent
Naturally, the ideal location will depend on the target market. For example, a company considering Japan or Korea may benefit from also considering locations such as Tokyo or Seoul. However, if a business is tailored to the Chinese market for example, then setting up operations in China is most likely to be the best and most straight forward choice. Overall, the most opportune locations and market will depend on the business at hand.
How do the countries you represent perceive or respond to foreign investment?
Most of our client’s and partner’s investments are in Southeast Asia. We highly advise to opt for countries mentioned earlier (especially Malaysia), as they offer a reasonable cost of living with a business-friendly environment.
Response to foreign investment is very positive, and various governmental agencies are focusing their efforts on encouraging such investment.
Do local governments offer any support for international companies looking to setup locally?
Yes, this is true in many countries. Government agencies provide support and incentives, especially when your business pertains to industries and sectors favoured by the government(s). Our areas of competences (such as High Tech and Digital Innovations) are usually at the top of the list. Therefore, foreign companies in these fields are likely to be provided with substantial advantages and incentives.
Are there many Australian companies looking to setup in Asia?
The Australian business community is quite active, and there are indeed various Australian companies looking to setup. These businesses range in size, from SMEs right through to listed groups.
Flipping the question around, are there many companies interested in expanding to Australia after having kick-started their international expansion in Asia?
Absolutely. After being successful in Asia, setting up in Australia is often a natural evolution for companies.
It is worth noting that, through our partnership with Polyglot Group, NSCS is currently helping the same 750 employees-strong IT & Digital transformation firm to setup operations in Malaysia and in Australia. This example is reflective of many other clients which have also generated long-term success and growth in Australia. This is something NSCS actively promotes to our European clients.
From your experience, what are the typical steps that foreign companies undertake when expanding to Asia?
Firstly, they typically complete research, before seeking feedback from peers who have already setup in Asia. When these companies approach NSCS, we provide them a free consultancy session to assess the opportunities and build a potential timeline.
Once the expansion to Asia has been validated internally, we usually start with providing an in-depth market analysis, as well as a detailed Go-To-Market plan for the company.
The next step is to setup an entity, or to kick-off the business development & sales operation for our client. Once the first test-market period has generated substantial results, the company can move on with a couple of different options. Specifically, NSCS can help them incorporate their own entity, simultaneously obtaining the relevant government labels and contribute investments to their next development stages in Asia.
What are the main challenges for foreign companies entering Asia?
Cultural alignment can be a challenge as well as navigating through the local agencies and governmental requirements in the early stages. Although overall business-friendly, there is always a learning curve when arriving in a new country, let alone a new continent. This is also true to the particular legal requirements for visa and other matters which may differ from countries of origin of our clients and partners.
Asian markets may be extremely competitive and the success of your business rely on great relationships with established decision-makers.
The above are a few key examples highlighting the importance of partnering with a regional trustworthy partner which already has expertise and network in Asia. This allows companies to save precious resources (time, funds) and enter the markets successfully at a faster pace.
In your experience, what are the common mistakes that companies make when looking to do business in Asia?
I believe a common mistake is failing to select the appropriate channels for the business’ expansion, and choosing to associate with unsuitable partners. These mistakes can be quite consequential, as attempting to manage business in Asia from afar makes these factors all the more important and relied upon.
There is a great deal of cultural alignment and market understanding required to succeed in Asia, hence the need for teaming up with reliable experts and partners on the ground to collaboratively build the business’ success together.