Today, I will share my thoughts on the importance of learning about cultures and the world we live in.
Some people ask me: "Isn't it better to first penetrate the market in Korea, save money, stabilize the business model, then go abroad?"
This assumption is correct. However, there is a problem. Even if the size of the Korean geospatial market, which we are focusing on, continues to grow, it remains rather small.
Therefore, overseas expansion is essential for growth. That's why I go to exhibitions and business trips whenever I get a chance. Of course, to save money, we usually go abroad when we get a subsidy like a free flight ticket or a free stand in the exhibition.
Now let's start talking about something more important. There are other reasons why I go abroad besides overseas exports and business development.
In 2021, I started to stay in Berlin to participate in the local incubation program in Berlin, which was a condition of support by KISED (the Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development).
When I was in Berlin, I tried hard to make sales right off the plane, but it didn't work out. I was feeling a bit frustrated by this, but at the time someone I met told me this:
"If you want to do sales in Germany, you will have to formally organize and present all product descriptions, proposals, pricing, etc., and localize them in German. Otherwise, you will have a hard time selling here. Also, Germans separate work and personal life. So if you take a casual and friendly approach when meeting people. They may think of you as a friend, but not as a business partner."
This story really shocked me. Having lived in Korea all my life, I did not treat my co-workers, business partners, or friends in a different way. Sometimes, I hang out with my customers and co-workers.
After learning about these cultural differences, I realized that in order to do business in a foreign country, I must first understand its culture.
So, starting with a business trip to Munich, I took a plane every day, toured 5 countries, and returned to Berlin. Every day I went to a new country, talked to people I didn't know, and learned how people in that nation felt about their neighboring countries, or how they started their businesses. Then, I observed the people in that country and their general disposition.
Of course, we haven't been able to sell our software to the countries I've been to. However, as I traveled, I was able to learn about life in the city, people's character, as well as the diplomatic relations and business culture of these countries.
After the two-month incubation program in Berlin, I visited Lithuania before returning to Korea. I did not find any obstacles during my stay there, even if I only spoke English.
You see, while living in Germany for 2 months, I didn't use Korean or German, and I communicated only using English. But when I used Lithuanian for the first time, the taxi driver taking me back to the airport was very happy and opened up to me. Just with a simple "Aciū!" (thank you in Lutuanian).
Doing so, I was able to learn that not only understanding the culture of a country, but also speaking basic sentences, is the way to please and gain favor with the locals.
There are many countries in the world, and even within a country, there are many different people and cultures. And, while not all cultures, societies, peoples, and people can be generalized, there are common or frequently found characteristics in any country.
For example, I think knowing its language and foreign relations is a must-know element for those who want to enter the market and society.
Because of this, whenever I get a chance, whenever I go to a country I haven't been to, I collect information about the country and learn about its society and culture.
Although we have not yet achieved good success in overseas expansion, I believe that overseas expansion is essential if we want to grow our company, and understanding various countries and people is essential for overseas expansion.
For this, I am learning about the world every day, and I will continue to learn about other countries and cultures in order to make Omnis Labs Company a unicorn company. 😊