How to develop a growth path and enter foreign markets – some practical advice from experts

Preparing the right growth plan and entering foreign markets are not easy tasks for any company and the health sector is no exception to this rule. This is where experienced experts come to aid.

Satu Niemelä and Erasmus van Niekerk from SEP Consulting use their experience to talk about the main challenges and give health tech companies some advice.

What is SEP Consulting about and how can it support Oulu-based health and life science companies?

We help companies at both ends of the development process, first to create a solid foundation for their development projects by helping them understand their customer, business and product/service better before they start investing in the development process, and second, to fast-track their products’/services’ new market entry by collaborating with our own network’s local teams in 20 markets to sidestep delayed time-to-market risks rooted in unproven go-to-market strategies.

What made you decide to establish SEP Consulting?

To be honest, SEP Consulting was born as a result of our own eventually failed project. Some of the mistakes we made early on meant that we were continuously playing expensive catch-up, and in the end, even though we had orders from some of the biggest retailers in the world, we just couldn’t deliver without further funding, and had to suspend our multi-award-winning project. We’d argue that we’ve learned more as a result of a failed project than we would have had the project been a success, and over the nearly decade-long process, we gained invaluable skills and knowledge that now enables us to help others.

As a former health innovations developer, what do you think is the main challenge for Oulu-based companies while turning their ideas into market ready products?

Making sure to understand that the product/service solves a real need enough people want or need and are willing to pay for and what form it should take is the most important first step in any development process. However, when it comes to health innovations, it’s of paramount importance to understand the regulatory environment within which you will have to develop the product/service, and to make sure you are ready for the certification process, even before a cent is spent on development. This will help ensure you’ll save a lot of time, money and effort later, when budget is limited and further funding not as readily available.

What would be your 3 best pieces of advice for a startup?

  1. Make sure you understand your customer needs and what is the MVP they will be happy with.
  2. Make sure the math makes sense, overestimate the costs and the time required and underestimate the revenue.
  3. Secure cash flow as early as possible.

What are your plans for the nearest future?

Previously, we offered a full spectrum of services retaled to product development, ranging from public funding services and project management to mold making and even exhibiting at trade shows, but going forward, together with our partners, our focus is on ensuring our clients’ product-market fit and helping them get accelerated revenue growth from their new market entry endeavours. 

Thank you and much success to you in making your plans come true!

Joanna Seppänen, Health & Life Science, BusinessOulu