Each month, we spotlight one of our awesome advisors. This month and in light of IWD, we are hearing from Alexandra. She runs Globl, a consultancy that helps consumer businesses expand internationally. Prior to Globl, Alex was the VP at Function of Beauty and has previously worked at Palantir and Credit Suisse. Alex is also a graduate from MIT & Cambridge.
How do you help ambitious businesses?
I run a consultancy called Globl that helps consumer businesses expand internationally. We have deep expertise in everything from regulatory compliance, to shipping and logistics, tax and accounting, marketing and growth, physical retail, and beyond. Globl partners with consumer brands in the pre-launch market prioritisation phase, and supports them throughout launch preparation and execution, as well as with post-launch growth.
What is your background & experience that enables you to do so and be the expert in the field?
Prior to founding Globl, I was VP of International at direct-to-consumer customised hair care company Function of Beauty, where I launched the brand in over 30 countries in 18 months. I was a one woman international expansion team based in London while the rest of the team was based in NYC, and executed successful cross-functional launches across the globe. At the time Function of Beauty was one of the few DTC brands that was pursuing international expansion aggressively, while also localising the experience for international consumers. I developed a playbook for new country launches that meant that while the first international launch took six months of preparation, the second only took three months and the third took six weeks. By the time I left we could launch most new countries within a month end-to-end.
In addition to my professional experience, I have spent my personal life split between three different countries. Born in the US to an American father and German mother, I toggled back and forth between living in the US and living in Germany throughout my childhood. During university I split my time between the US and the UK, and then I moved to London permanently six years ago after working in NYC for four years. Being bilingual in German and English is certainly a plus, and understanding the differences between how these countries do business at a cultural level is integral to the work I do.
What are some of the success stories you’ve had or outcomes you’ve achieved with the businesses you’ve worked with?
Most of our projects have fallen into one of the following categories, ranging from least investment from the business to most:
International Shipping. A business wants to cater to international customer demand but has minimal internal resource to commit. Globl can get that business access to some of the best cross-border ecommerce shipping rates in the industry. Brands we’ve worked with have seen a 30-50% savings on shipping costs when compared with other international shipping options.
Localisation. A business wants to improve international ecommerce conversion rates. Globl can deploy the best strategy and tools to localise that business’s ecommerce pricing and tax convention while minimising complexity. Brands we’ve worked with have identified opportunities to double international conversion rates as a result of localisation.
International Playbook. A business sees international expansion as a key strategic priority and wants to build a repeatable capability to launch new countries. Globl can write an international expansion playbook that’s tailored to the business and train the business team so that they have a long-lasting and repeatable capability. Brands we’ve worked with have seen international grow to represent 30-50% of their business within two years.
What types of businesses do you work with?
We work with consumer businesses, primarily in the personal care space but also including health & wellness, food & beverage, and apparel & accessories. Most have a significant direct-to-consumer portion of their business, but many are or have plans to be omnichannel.
What are the things you look for in a business that makes you decide to work with them or not?
A clear vision of what the business strategy is and how international expansion fits into it.
An ability and willingness to make decisions quickly, and pivot when it makes sense to.
What are the three key things an ambitious business needs to think about when thinking about international expansion?
Offering international shipping is just the first step in global expansion - it will only scrape the surface of the potential penetration and return of a new market.
International expansion is a long-term commitment - it requires work upfront but will also require support from a variety of different internal teams on an ongoing basis.
There are right ways and wrong ways to go about international expansion - some decisions can have a significant negative impact so make sure you seek good advice early on.
The companies Alex believe's have managed their international expansion very well, Allbirds, Hubble Contacts and of course Function of Beauty!
What are your thoughts on where the UK ecosystem is at the moment?
With the recent cooling off of DTC, many new consumer startups are thinking about growth in a more sustainable, slow and steady way. This means pouring less money into marketing and building brands more organically. It will be interesting to see how this approach manifests in international expansion strategies. On the one hand, international expansion requires moving with momentum, assertion, and dedicated resource. On the other hand, new markets offer a broader audience to organically capture rather than paying for increasingly expensive and less aligned customers in one home market. We’ll see how that balance evolves over the coming years.
What are some of the common trends you see amongst the ambitious businesses you support?
A relentless energy and hunger amongst the founders to do whatever it takes to succeed - not taking no for an answer and always finding a way, even if it comes with personal sacrifice.
Hiring an amazing team of star players and empowering them to execute at their best by feeling aligned with the mission of the company.
What UK based ambitious business do you admire the most & why?
In line with the theme of International Women’s Day, some of the UK based female led businesses I admire include Bleach London and Smith & Sinclair - rarely have I met founders who hustle so hard.
What gets you up & motivates you in the morning?
Getting to partner with some of the smartest, most passionate founders in the consumer industry. Knowing that every day will be different. Working on complex projects and solving problems that I’m also personally interested in.
What do people not know about you?
I studied Mechanical Engineering and spent most of my school years building engines and robots! I also trained to be a professional dancer - although I gave up that career path after several injuries, I still dance with a group in London every week.
Isn't Alex awesome?! Want to use Alex to help your business expand? Contact us for more details on firstname.lastname@example.org