Editor’s note: This originally appeared on the China Business Cast. China Business Cast is a podcast featuring experienced entrepreneurs and business people making things happen in China. If you want to learn from on the ground accounts of how business actually gets done in China, this is the program for you.
We Are Celebrating Easter and Passover on this episode. So Mike and me (Shlomo) not suppose to work. We both really enjoy producing the podcast, so I guess it’s not work for us then.
We also have a new Patreon page so you can support the show and get different perks. So Check it out!
Anyway, Itai Damti is joining our show for the 2nd time. He grows his company to Asia and China and has now 200 employees.
Intro Itai – Itai was on the podcast back in episode #49 talking about how to expand into Asia.
Updates about Itai’s company (30-40% growth in about 6 months!)
What Leverate does
what is localization? To be clear – it is Not just translation, right?
Localization = all the activities you take to make your product meet user expectations & succeed in a new country
Why do we need to localize? Language & culture, regulations, digital ecosystem
Localizing your product has 2 main fronts:
Infrastructure (the invisible stuff)- hosting, platforms (web/mobile/desktop), payments, mass mailing, analytics
Functions (the visible stuff)- languages, additional features, additional products
In some countries, localization is “just translation”. In China, it’s not. China is nasty- it’s “too big to ignore” and also very demanding for localization
Note that today we will cover product localization, NOT business localization. But business localization (sales, marketing & ops) is no less demanding
Learning from Mistakes: Any mistakes you have made, or others you have seen – so that listeners can avoid making those same problems
Step 0: you chose a market and it’s not right for you -> We’ve been OK but I’ve once heard a founder asking about India vs. China
Step 1: you didn’t make a localization list and you have no idea about what it means to be fully localized. You’re going to the battle and you think there’s a lot to gain, but you don’t understand what needs to be sacrificed along the way -> Leverate did this mistake (like many others). It’s stressful & painful to discover things as you go
Step 2: you didn’t choose the right MVL and you launched a shitty product that doesn’t work -> Leverate did this in China and lost our first 10 customers. It’s a terrible mistake and it’s very hard to recover from
Step 3: you develop things too early or too late -> Too early may be OK, but too late means you don’t understand the importance? Leverate launched their IB system too late and asked our clients to settle for a half-baked solution for a long long time
Tip: localization is just another thing you can work on- challenge yourself and ask why it should have a priority (does it bring more revenues?)
Functions (the visible stuff)
Translation- OneSky is a great product, highly recommended
Additional instruments- people want to trade on things like Bitcoin, USDCNH
IB system- supports how our clients market themselves in China
Infrastructure (the invisible stuff)
Web/mobile/desktop- getting to know, a long process of deploying to local stores
Mass mailing- local partner
Payments- local partner
Divorce from Google- remove all references to Google fonts, CDN’s & Analytics
Case studies: So how have you gone about localizing the product? What’s your “stack”
Testing the Market: Before “going live” what are some tactics companies can take to ensure they are going about it the right way?
Make a gradual investment = don’t localize anything if you can MVL first, then measured investments (will bring you new revenues?)
Should you use the same team, or make a new team? What are some strategiesI n operations, a designated person/team makes sense.
In product (unlike operations), a new team usually makes little sense. Use the same team, but take external knowledge: talk to experts, talk to customers, read and justify localizations, don’t just throw it on people (take your PM’s to China or tell them the China story)
Make a localization roadmap, just like you have a full roadmap!
B2C companies have to develop MVL before they have customers
B2B companies can wait to develop MVL after they have customers. But they usually have a lot more work (especially B2B2C)
How long would this process take?
Localization is an endless process but the good news that it’s also gradual (after step 1 – MVL)
Timing is important: Are there different stages of the process? What are some steps a product company should take in localizing their product?
Step 0: make sure the market is right for you! Don’t start otherwise
Step 1: make “the perfect localization list” (it’s cheap and will make sure you don’t forget) (if you’re an app- almost nothing)
Step 2: develop MVL = Minimum Viable Localization
Step 3: iterate and develop more as you learn from leads and customers