Expanding Your Business Overseas With Mario Brondani
Episode 477: Expanding Your Business Overseas With Mario Brondani
Are you looking to expanding your business overseas? Mario Brondani joins Mitch Stephen as he talks about how he got into expanding businesses. Originally from South Africa, Mario had a career shift coming to Spain. As he saw the big need for online space, he got into eCommerce and decided to look into real estate as well. After seeing the need for it in Spain and the rest of Europe, he got into franchising and helped his first client expand 50 franchises in the country. Find out more about his journey and be inspired to go big and expand your business overseas.
I’m here with Mario Brondani. We are going to be talking real estate. We are going to find out a bit of this guy and what makes him tick. Mario, how are you doing?
I am well Mitch, thank you so much. I appreciate being on your show and I’m super grateful for it.
It’s my pleasure. Where are you sitting physically right now? Where are you at?
I am in Spain.
Tell us a bit of your background, who you are and how you grew up a little bit, so we can know where all this is coming from.
I’m from South Africa originally. This is where the exit comes from. I moved to Spain years ago. When I moved to Spain, I looked into a career shift. When I was in South Africa, I was doing it in that sense. I came here, it looks to be more of an entrepreneur in that sense. Very quickly, I saw that there was a big need for the online space. I started in the world of eCommerce. We decided to develop a unique brand and I saw that I needed funding very quickly. With little being said, I decided to look into real estate because real estate is a very big thing here in Spain. I saw it took too long to flip.There is the fear of wasting money by not understanding how to do the introduction correctly. Click To Tweet
The next thing down was franchising. I went to the North of Spain and I saw that there was a very big need for Spain to the rest of Europe. I decided to start out, look for a client and help them extend because I speak English, Spanish and Italian. I found my first client here back in 2018 and I helped them expand 50 franchises in Spain and a whole lot of franchises in the rest of Europe, the UK, Poland, Romania, Montenegro, France and Italy. I did it in about six months. I saw that there was a huge need for expansion from Spanish franchises to the rest of Europe. My first deal was when I was nineteen. My first master franchise are there in the UK, in Scotland. From there on, I looked into building a team because you can’t do it alone, of course. Any great entrepreneur knows that. I’m still learning and growing.
I was asked a question that changed my life in the history of franchising. They asked me, “Why it is that continents don’t connect to continents.” I had no idea. I’ve asked my then small network. They also had no idea. I took it upon myself to cold call 4,000 franchisors all over the world. I asked them that question, “Why is it that you are only on your continent? Why don’t you go over somewhere else?” The question was very clear after a few calls. It became embedded within what I do, which we call fugitives. It was simply because of a lack of connection and there is an abundance of money. People had the money. They didn’t know who to speak to, how to do it and the culture. Long story short, we developed a team. With the team, we developed a project called Fingertip where we focused on North American brands expanding into the UK to start. From there, we look into world domination. That’s a little bit on what I have done, where I am and a little bit of my history.
You are helping people that have franchises move into a different culture and a different set of laws and all that. What goes into helping? Once they say, “I can help you.” What are they most afraid of?
Firstly, I would like to say a niche. It’s not just franchising. It’s just any brand or business in general. It started franchising for me but we just expanded into helping any business in that sense. It’s mostly the fear of the unknown. The fear of wasting money by not understanding how to do the introduction correctly. We have seen it time and time again with very big brands. A lot of money has been wasted if they would have asked the question, “How does this work? How can we do that?” It’s more on the first part side. I would say the second part is more likely, in the US, for example, a lot of businesses are figuring out how to first expand from state-to-state considering the amount of licensing and lawyers’ fees that cost millions of dollars. For you to be multi-state, you do have to have multi-millions of dollars. Whereas moving into a place like the UK, you don’t even need 100 of that amounts to be able to set up correctly. Considering you have a team helping you expand there, it removes that I don’t know a factor. I hope that answers the question.
It does. It’s any kind of business. Tell us one of your success stories.
I would say a very well-known business, I won’t mention the name, they will be moving over into the UK and they did it by themselves. They actually had one person on their team who was the only one who had a UK residency. That person who was about 25, was siege out with this huge corporation. They expected this person to help them expand. They were shipping overloads of infrastructure that didn’t put into the storefronts and it didn’t connect to the power supply and the internet infrastructure.
They were wasting $5 million when they moved over containers of infrastructure, which they couldn’t use at the end of the day. Should they have asked, “What type of connection do you use? What type of power adapter do you use?” Something as basic as that. They would have saved themselves $5 million. They found us at the end and we were not able to help them simply because we had to change the idea of what they were trying to do. We ended up helping them at the end but not with what they wanted to do but with a different strategy in that sense.
It sounds like they might have gone too far in the wrong direction, at that point, by the time they found you.
It’s true. It has happened quite a few times. It’s unfortunate and there are so many stories.
What kind of businesses translates or do well? Can you put your finger on it or is it just any business?
If you would have asked me this question pre-COVID, I would have had a fantastic answer. Post-COVID, I haven’t even better answer because it’s something that we call Value Innovation. I think more than anything, anybody can go into the UK simply because people are forced to learn how to combine their business with the internet. Someone understanding the use of the internet and incorporated it into their business, product, service, franchise, whatever, it doesn’t matter. I will give you an example. We had a Ukraine franchise come to us who are a cheese franchise. They have like 60 different types of cheeses in their store. They do loads of things like wine tasting, monster closets, how to cook the right quantities, etc. It’s super cool and crazy.
They wanted to go to London. London is amazing because it has got 6 million people but it’s a very small place compared to other capitals. It’s because it’s so small, there’s a lack of real estate, as you can imagine. The price is very high as logic would state. The idea was not to get them to a very high-risk situation where they had to get a ten-year lease and be forced to stay in a place. We took a level down, which I ended the day turned into an even bigger success story. We have got them a food truck in that sense. They could literally drive to a hungry crowd and go from a bit too late because London is the hub of events. Every week, they’ve got like tens of events pre-COVID and now, they were having more events as someone comes along. Once you have one, then you are talking about a scaling opportunity, 2, 3, 5, 10 trucks. Once you want to be established through social media, influencers, marketing in general and the online space, then you set up stores. I hope that makes sense.Business owners can’t connect to other continents because of a lack of connection. Click To Tweet
It certainly does. How do people get ahold of you if they are interested in franchising out to another country? What do they do?
The best way to connect with me would be on LinkedIn. I always recommend LinkedIn. It is a great place to connect. Besides that, you are more than welcome to go to my website as well. It’s GeneVaria.com.
What we will do is we will send everybody to 1000Houses.com/expand and you will be able to connect with Mario and everything we were talking about here, all the links, websites and everything. It will make it easy for you. Certainly, you’ve got to sit down and have some pretty lengthy consultant conversation about what’s possible, what you are trying to do, who you are and what you are doing. Is that process to even decide to take you on? Is that a lengthy conversation or is it a short conversation?
To not go over an hour in the first meeting because at the end of the day, it’s just reading a dossier of some sorts and understanding how the brand works a little bit. Through our experience, we were able to quickly see what we feel will work and what will not. We tend to do a half an hour start cultivation and say which we do for free and we have a conversation. After that, should we want to move to the next step? I usually get more people from our team to jump on depending on the needs of the brand, company, service, product, whatever. Moving from there, we have a very simple two-phase process. The first phase was a market evaluation, which has a number of things. I recommend that you include the link for this in the link that you provided to everyone. We do a number of things, basically like territory, culture and the UK region. We go into the second phase which we tend to work on a commission basis where we are looking at the expansion, master franchises, finding the right people depending on how we set up the relationship because every business is different. It’s one that we speak and agree on something basic.
A lot of times, the people that I interview have something free to give away to people over there at that link I gave out. Is there some outline or the top ten steps to franchising out? Do you have anything to give away that we might offer the audience?
Should I speak to Mark and our team on the marketing side, we could definitely give some good pointers in terms of our experience in terms of the idea of what Fingertip is about. We actually do have a PDF that we can also give over to you on basically what we call the 5W’s. I don’t mind giving that over to you. In terms of adding value, it’s very simple. I would recommend to anyone that would want to move out to any country to find someone that’s on the ground there that you can work with close together that actually understands the culture and has worked in the industry that you work. It’s that simple in terms of adding value.
Can I put you on the spot there? I will get my people to work with your people to come up with some overview of how it works or something. It will be over there at 1000Houses.com/expand. Of course, it will be all your contact information. If someone wants a consult, they can get ahold of you. They can check out your website over there. It just amazes me the opportunities this world presents and the niches that you can find. I talked to a lady and she flips castles. She buys a castle for a couple of million bucks. She puts $5 million into it and then she sells it for $20 million to an organization that is interested in preserving that history in those monuments, so to speak. I thought that’s probably one of the nichiest things I have ever heard of but then, I meet you and there’s yet another niche. What a great time to be alive. If you are out there and you’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit, there are so many different ways to help people. That’s what you are trying to do is help someone. If you help people enough, you don’t have to worry about the money because it will fall in line.
My goal in this life, which is to help 1 billion people to remove the feeling of nostalgia when you travel. I’m sure that you have traveled quite a bit and maybe you might go to another country and you try some food or you buy a product. You were like, “I wish this was where I am back home.” My goal is to eliminate that in this life. Crazy dream but it’s my goal to help 1 billion people.
I think that’s a great goal. It’s an ambitious one too. This is Mitch Stephen with the 1000houses.com Podcast. I want to thank everybody for stopping by and taking the time to get you some Mario Brondani. If you are thinking about expanding to another country, go to 1000houses.com/expand and have a conversation with Mario. You don’t know what you don’t know. If you have even been contemplating it but you are afraid of it, maybe you need to have a conversation with Mario to get a little bit further down the road and get some insights and take some of the onus off of what you are worried about. Usually, when we attack our problems and we have the right people around us, those problems shrink dramatically. In fact, sometimes they are laughable once you get in the right circles. With other people who have done whatever it is you are trying to do before, it’s not that big of deal. I would like to thank you. Any last words you would like to say to anybody out there who’s thinking about expanding to another country?
First, we want to thank you, Mitch. I’m grateful for you having me on. I had loads of fun. It was really good. For anyone that wants to expand outside, I would say that more than anything COVID has taught us, it’s time to take action. A lot of people have been thinking. Trust your guts and settle yourself as an international brand. With the internet, it’s a lot easier than it ever has been. It’s the opportunity now. As they say in Spain, “To take the bull by the horns and go into it.”
My friends, there you have it for Mario Brondani. This is Mitch Stephen. I would like to thank you again. We are out of here. Bye now.
About Mario Brondani
Did his first 20,000£ deal at 19: Hear Mario Brondani’s story and how he did it.