Via’s Market Expansion Playbook
In this article we are sharing the internationalisation playbook of someone who has expanded their business in 40 countries (+700 cities) and has people on the ground in 16 different markets.
This someone is Dillon Twombly, CRO at Via.
Via is a pioneer in transit tech and with its software they’re enabling organisations to digitise their existing transportation networks and launch new and innovative services.
Due to the nature of their business, scaling for Via goes in hand-in-hand with internationalisation. The more cities that are using their technology, the more geographically expanded they are.
Therefore, internationalisation and expanding into new markets have become second nature to Via.
You can listen to our interview with Dillon here, or read along and discover Via’s expansion playbook.
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Step #1 – Market Analysis
Before entering any market, the expansion team at Via analyses the markets. This analysis is two folded:
(1) What’s the Total Addressable Market (TAM)?
Among other factors, they look at the following:
- How is transportation run: agencies vs. privatised?
- Avg spend on transportation?
- How robust is the transportation network and does it have capacity constraints?
- How is the employment market of drivers?
The last two aspects are relevant because Via offers complementary services on top of their technology, such as drivers, vehicles, and insurance. So, if there are driver shortages or capacity constraints, these markets become even more attractive.
(2) Ease of entering the market
- Where do they already have some footprint from their B2C business?
- Are there any regulatory limitations, such as where data needs to be stored?
- Can Via do business with the same entity or do they need to create a new one?
- How long is the local sales cycle?
Based on that, some sort of ranking is made.
Step #2: Find a local partner you trust
A transportation network is by definition a very local concept. Therefore, having a localised market entry is not just a nice-to-have, it’s an absolute must-have.
Via’s approach to this is to partner up with a local organisation that knows the market, is familiar with the ecosystem, has a network there and understand the local challenges.
However, what’s even more important is the alignment in goals & objectives:
Having that alignment from the beginning builds up trust, because you essentially want the same thing. Dillon emphasised this a lot: trust with the partner is crucial. The partner sort of makes or breaks the market entrance.
Step #3 – Do a deal or two before big commitment
Via will always first dip their toes into a new market before going all in. As Dillon explained during the interview:
Step #4: Formal agreement with partner
If these initial smaller deals were successful, they are happy to move forward and formalise a long-term agreement with the partner.
Here is what “successful” means: there are no regulatory issues and the financial model works for Via as well as for the partner.
Step #5 – LT value assessment
After realising a couple of deployments and once the pipeline reaches a significant size, it’s time to evaluate LT potential: how big is the potential for further expansion? How fast can we move? If there is enough potential, it’s time to put people on the ground.
Step #6 – People on the ground
The team on the ground is composed of a regional lead, who runs both sales & customer success and recruits the local commercial team. This country manager absolutely needs to be a local national, who knows the language, the regulations and preferably joins the company with a relevant network.
These talents are found through their own network or via the help of local recruiters, but there is one important aspect Dillon pointed out:
And just like that, Via is expanding safely, step-by-step, yet, at a high pace into new market.
There is one last quote from Dillon I think is really worth to mention in this article: