Simple Steps to Encourage Global Startup Success in Austin, TX

The Global Innovation Forum, Intuit and Google hosted a private brunch on Sunday, March 12th in Austin, Texas alongside South-by-Southwest Interactive 2017. The event brought together corporations, startups and policymakers from around the world to share best practices to encourage global startup success.

The Global Innovation Forum moderated a small group discussion on simple steps startups can take to ensure their success in the global marketplace and the public policy foundations necessary to their success.

Participants Included –

Katie Oyama, Senior Policy Counsel, Google // Liz Baker, Senior Business Development Manager, Intuit // Christine Souffrant, Founder, Vendedy // Tyler Spalding, Senior Manager Corporate Affairs, PayPal // Melissa Blaustein, Allied for Startups // Jon Davies, Head of Early Stage Technology, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise // Caroline Winnett, Executive Director, SkyDeck, University of California Berkeley // Patrick Hanlon, Trade & Investment Commissioner and Deputy Consul General, Australian Trade & Investment Commission // Karen Parker, Director, U.S. Commercial Service Austin // Hilary Braseth, Founder and Executive VP, Dare to Innovate // David Snead, Co-Founder and General Counsel, I2Coalition // John Valentine, Director of Partnerships, MassChallenge // Nuala O’Connor, President & CEO, Center for Democracy & Technology // Sheel Mohnot, Partner, 500 Startups // David Dufresne, Partner, 500 Startups // Torsten Oelke, Executive Chairman, Cube GmbH // Vivian Forrest, Founder, SXSW China Gathering // Paul Godinez, Partner, Bailey Duquette // Rebecca Karnak, Global Policy and International Government Affairs, Dell // Jannie Tong, Director Public Relations and Analyst Relations, Huawei // Alan Leite, CEO & Partner, Startup Farm // Lucas Borges, Founder, Risü // James Cummings, VP Business Development, London & Partners // Allison O’Brien, Managing Director Government Affairs, Oracle // Mike McGeary, Public Policy, Upwork // Helen Koepman, Deputy Head of Unit Startups & Innovation, European Commission // Flavio Pripas, Managing Director, CUBO // Tadashi Takaoka, Manager of Entrepreneurship, CORFO // Shirley Deng, Business Development, WeChat US // Leigh Flounders, CEO, Latipay

What We Learned


Startups are increasingly poised to engage globally from day 1

“With innovation naturally flowing [globally,] startups should do exactly the same,” said John Valentine, Senior Director of U.S. Partnerships for MassChallenge, a startup accelerator with offices, entrepreneurs and experts distributed around the world. Participants suggested that integration in global markets is key in ensuring growth.  With the global internet, startups can have a global presence with minimal effort. New innovation frontiers are popping up around the world, including in emerging markets like Nigeria, helping to connect buyers and sellers in different parts of the globe. Talent and access to information are global. “People in Haiti can read the same blog as me,” added Christine Souffrant, Partner with Global Startup Ecosystem, who talked about her experiences working with entrepreneurs from Haiti to Nigeria to the UAE.

Utilizing technology can help startups access global markets

Web sites and social media play an essential role in startups getting discovered and enabling them to expand across borders. Technology platforms and services provide the missing links, connecting entrepreneurs and resources worldwide. Tyler Spalding, Senior Manager Corporate Affairs, PayPal noted that, “Only 5% of those not online are engaged in international trade while 60% using PayPal engaged in cross border trade.”

Tap professional advisors to avoid costly mistakes

While startups may only engage with professional advisors begrudgingly, doing so early on can prevent headaches down the road. Paul Godinez, a ‎Partner with the law firm of Bailey Duquette, based in Austin, Texas, suggested that legal compliance “may be the least interesting thing to talk about,” but highlighted how lawyers and advisors can help companies operationalize their ideas quickly and plan for the future, setting them up for success and avoiding financial penalties for failing to comply with rules down the road. He suggested that startups have a number of options when it comes to professional advisors, from government resources to boutique legal advisors along with traditional legal firms.

Startup voices are critical, though often missing, from policy discussions

Melissa Blaustein, Founder, Allied for Startups, noted that, “when governments speak with entrepreneurs great things can happen.” Katie Oyama, Senior Policy Counsel for Google, pointed out that conversations between government and startup communities do not take place often enough. Lobbyists are expensive and startups do not see the value in spending money in those areas, especially early on. Associations and corporations are playing an increasingly significant role in facilitating communication between the two groups.

Governments from around the world are increasingly focused on helping startups succeed globally

Participants from governments in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia highlighted that government resources are available both in home countries and international markets to support small businesses as they enter into new regions. Participants explained a range of export and investment promotion services the United States provides businesses of all sizes. With government support, entrepreneurs can focus on building their business.