Expanding Globally: A Masterclass with Steve Ciesinski

Stanford GSB lecturer in entrepreneurship Steve Ciesinski shares insights on how to have fun and success scaling your company.

July 02, 2024

Welcome to Grit & Growth’s masterclass on going global – a guide for expanding your business beyond borders. Steve Ciesinski, Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer in entrepreneurship, walks you through the pitfalls and possibilities of making the move from local venture to global enterprise.

It goes without saying that having an outstanding product or service is key to business success. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when you want to expand your business – regionally and/or globally. According to Steve Ciesinski, scaling introduces additional challenges, including cultural and regulatory differences, economic and political risks, language barriers, supply chain struggles, and more. However, he believes that entrepreneurs who plan carefully and execute flawlessly can create value on a global scale.

Steve Ciesinski has had plenty of experience advising entrepreneurs on global expansion. He’s a Stanford GSB lecturer in entrepreneurship, past president of SRI International and other Silicon Valley firms, and an investor and board member of growth-oriented tech companies and mission-based organizations.

Three Key Takeaways for Going Global

Your product market fit might not fit in a different market

“Things are very, very different and very subtle sometimes as you get into a marketplace. You have to be very agile. You have to be super flexible.”

Find the right person for the right place

“If you’re going to go to another country and you’re not going to be there personally as the founder, then who’s going to run that country for you? You have to have somebody there that you completely, 100 percent trust, because things will go wrong.”

Regulatory compliance is a tricky business

“You have to be very, very careful. You have a choice. When you have a new thing, do you try to cooperate with the government? How long will that government be in place? You have some choices early on as to what you do in whatever country. You may be successful in Nigeria, but in Kenya, or if you were trying to go across the pond to Mexico, you may not be so successful with your product.”

Listen to Steve Ciesinski’s advice on what to keep in mind when entering new markets so you can scale with less friction and more success.

Grit & Growth is a podcast produced by Stanford Seed, an institute at Stanford Graduate School of Business which partners with entrepreneurs in emerging markets to build thriving enterprises that transform lives.

Hear these entrepreneurs’ stories of trial and triumph, and gain insights and guidance from Stanford University faculty and global business experts on how to transform today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities.

Full Transcript

Note: Transcripts are generated by machine and lightly edited by humans. They may contain errors.

Steve Ciesinski: Many of these emerging economies are not very large, and if you really want to grow, you have to certainly go very big regionally, if not globally. So how do you think about that? How long will that take? How much capital will it take? What are the things that are going to get in your way? Of course you want to think about scaling. That’s when the fun part happens.

Darius Teter: Welcome to Grit & Growth from Stanford Graduate School of Business, the podcast where Africa and Asia’s intrepid entrepreneurs share their trials and triumphs with insights from Stanford faculty and global experts on how to tackle challenges and grow your business. I’m your host, Darius Teter, the executive director of Stanford Seed.

If you’ve listened to this show, then you’re familiar with a recurring theme. Growing a business, any business, is super hard. We spend a lot of time looking at leadership qualities, talent acquisition, securing capital, and a bunch of other problems inside your business. But today we’re going to look at those problems through a new lens. What does it take to reach new markets beyond your borders? That can present a uniquely complex set of challenges with endless variations depending on the country, the target market, your industry, even your business model. Think, for example, of cultural differences or regulatory compliance, taxes, political risk, logistical nightmares, talent shortages, language barriers, access to technology and infrastructure. And those are just the highlights. In this episode, we examined potential pitfalls and the remarkable opportunities in making that move from a local venture into a global business. And with us today is Steve Ciesinski.

Steve Ciesinski: I’m Steve Ciesinski. I’m here as a lecturer at the Stanford Business School, the GSB. I’ve been teaching here probably now for, I’m going to say, about 13 years, maybe longer.

Darius Teter: Steve teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford Graduate School of Business, mentoring future global leaders. As past president of SRI International, he has firsthand experience with the challenges of international business expansion. I’ve noticed something interesting about our international students here at Stanford, especially those from emerging markets like sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the allure of corporate careers and the big consulting firms like McKinsey, many are fiercely determined to start their own businesses. They’re not just planning to innovate. They want to dive back into their home markets where untapped opportunities are plentiful, but there are undeniable challenges.

Steve Ciesinski: Students here are just sponges for information about how to start up a company, and what is venture capital, and how do you get funded, and how do you look at various markets, and how do you do the intersection between technology and entrepreneurship, and new markets and business building, and that sort of thing. But what increasingly it’s now become about is scaling. So we’ve said creating, but with the emphasis on scaling, because that’s when the fun part happens. You’ve hit product-market fit. And now, how are you going to go to market and expand and how big can that market be and how do you then get growth funding?

Darius Teter: So given this pace of change in emerging markets, how should entrepreneurs navigate that process to find and maintain product-market fit?

Steve Ciesinski: Well, I think it is universal that product-market fit — you have to be very agile. You have to be super flexible. You have to make some, sometimes, many times, decisions based on not a lot of data. So you’re out there as a CEO-founder of the company, out there with customers or would-be customers, really trying to understand them. And how many pivots do you have to make? Or do you have to do a complete 360 or something or other like that? That’s pretty universal. I think, though, it goes to another level when it comes to emerging economies. Things are moving so fast, everyone now can learn about things that are going on in other parts of the world. In many parts of the world, the SME — the small and medium enterprise — types of companies flourish. I mean, that’s the backbone of many, many economies in these countries.

And many of them have been restricted on growing because nobody knew about them. There was not a lot of knowledge around and so forth, and it was very inefficient. And now with other technology like smartphone technologies becoming cheaper, and companies like Lynk and Starlink, Musk’s company, where the other half of the 7, 8 billion people can now have a consistent touch and feel with the internet as opposed to, oh, gee, I’ve got spotty coverage, or I’ve got no coverage, I’m out on my farm. But now with these technologies, people can actually make commerce happen. So things are moving so fast with this intersection of technology and markets that you have to be, I think, a lot more flexible in these emerging and developing economies than I think mostly in the United States or in Western Europe.

Darius Teter: I’m going to throw this out as a hypothesis. The other reason why you might need to be more agile in testing product-market fit is that it’s harder to, even now, it’s still hard to know the customer, right? How you might do A/B testing might look really different in Nigeria or Kenya than how it might look in Silicon Valley. Is that a fair comment?

Steve Ciesinski: Yeah. For example, Cumplo, a company in Chile that we wrote a case upon, that company started off as a B2C lending company, but then realized that there was very little information other than positive information about the consumer. And so businesses who wanted to lend only had positive information, no negative information, and therefore they withdrew. They didn’t really want to do that. They had to go into B2B lending where there’s a lot more information about SMEs and large companies and so forth — just happens to be a regulatory issue in Chile.

Darius Teter: Beyond product-market fit, there’s another crucial aspect of scaling globally: dealing with regulators, country by country, and regulatory frameworks that are sometimes modeled on 1950s British or French law, or they didn’t even contemplate the existence of the internet. Navigating regulations might mean adjusting your strategy as you enter and operate in new markets or those regulations might even be a key go/no-go factor.

Steve Ciesinski: So things are very, very different and very subtle sometimes as you get into a marketplace. One of the things I should mention that became the anchor for our classes is George Foster, who is a pretty well-known eminent full-time prof here at the GSB. He did a study for the World Economic Forum 10 years ago, and he asked me, as part of SRI at the time, to participate in that. Ernst & Young was part of that endeavor. And what we found out — we interviewed a thousand entrepreneurs all over the world. We came up with eight pillars that were quite important to building a good ecosystem. One of those was consistent and predictable regulatory authority.

Darius Teter: I’m laughing because we’re a registered legal entity in Kenya and the amount of time we spent trying to make sure we’re aligned with whatever the latest KRA ruling is — that’s Kenya River Authority — it’s like a full-time job.

Steve Ciesinski: Well, here in the States, it’s been the way that if you can get off to a fast start with new technology, take a look at Facebook, Meta, Apple, Google, etc., all these large companies, Amazon. If you can get large pretty quickly, you’re building such new ground that the regulatory ends up following. They can’t keep up, and they don’t even know that’s going on because administration changes and so forth. That’s not necessarily the case in many other countries throughout the world. You have to be very, very careful. You have a choice. When you have a new thing, do you try to cooperate with the government? How long will that government be in place? You have a choice. Your choice could be that you eagerly want to cooperate with the government if you think the government’s on the up and up. You may also consider that the government is going to be pretty fickle and there’s corruption going on, extractive, right?

Darius Teter: Yeah.

Steve Ciesinski: And so you have large companies who want to push out smaller companies and you have to be wary of that. So you have some choices early on as to what you do in whatever country. You may be successful in Nigeria, but in Kenya, or if you were trying to go across the pond to Mexico, you may not be so successful with your product.

Darius Teter: As we consider the structural challenges of expanding your business globally, there’s another critical element that comes into play: your human capital. If you’re running a business in an emerging market, you’ve already lived this challenge. There’s a smaller pool of experienced managers or technical people. They’re harder to find, and they’re even harder to keep.

Steve Ciesinski: We talk a lot about mentors, coaches, board membership, advisors, consultants, and so on. You have these SMEs in these countries. You also have larger companies, but you don’t have a whole lot of startups. And even though startups don’t have a lot of people around them who can actually help them from the startup phase … So you’ll see a slug of money go in and then an executive will go on the board from a large company, has no clue how to deal with a smaller company, really hurts a small company by directing it into a different area.

Darius Teter: Tell me if this is true, but for those — 99 percent of the time — technology-based startups that I’ve seen in sub-Saharan Africa, part of their workforce-human capital problem gets solved when they get that first serious angel or seed round of investing, because a good early-stage investor is also helping them identify talent. So it’s kind of a cart and horse thing. You need to demonstrate that you’re an investable idea, you need quality workforce, but sometimes you actually need that support first.

Steve Ciesinski: One thing that’s not valued anywhere near as highly — starting to, universally, that is, in fact in Silicon Valley and Austin and Boston, New York startups — is stock options. The ability to actually make something, you’re now becoming a part owner of the company. Well, cash — especially in inflationary situations — is a lot more important to get than futures. So that’s not as much of a hook to keep employees retained in your company. As the company is growing, boy, you realize if you leave, you’re going to walk away from two more years of vesting.

Darius Teter: One of the benefits we have for alumni of the Seed program is they can apply for a pro bono consultant, a six-month project., And in any one time, we have 75 of these projects going on. The number one topic request is marketing. Number two is talents and acquisition and retention or some related HR, human capital strategy-type thing. So you made one really great — ESOPs are not going to work, particularly where there’s no exit that looks like that. So maybe we’re back to more traditional incentives, which are cash-based, or, I mean, do you see in markets where people are actually offered — what else is in the toolbox?

Steve Ciesinski: Well, a career, and not just a career with that company, but a personal career. This kid might be a high school graduate, maybe a year or two of college, maybe not, dropout, what have you. Where is this kid in Ethiopia or in Peru going to go for a future? There are choices, but one possible choice is to go in this startup technology-oriented company and help that company be successful, learn along with that company and, gee, that company is offering us some classes and some ways that I can improve my skill set. And by improving my skill set, I’m now more marketable to other companies. And by the way, if I spend a few years here, I look like to other companies that I actually will stay at a company, will contribute to the company in my own area, and so on. So now I’m really building up my background, my resume, my CV, whatever you want to call it, so that I am more attractive. I can now earn more money and I have a more predictable future than I would have if I were just languishing or floating around, bouncing around from company to company.

Darius Teter: Steve’s point underscores the importance of startups and SMEs, not just his business ventures solving problems, but his platforms for nurturing talent and shaping the workforce for tomorrow.

I guess the third risk is you prove that it’s possible to make money in this market. You show people how it’s possible to make money, and then a big player just comes in and eats your lunch like, oh, okay, they’ve sorted out the regulatory issues, they’ve got the relationship with Orange [Egypt]. Let’s go offer Orange one penny more per transaction, and you’re gone.

Steve Ciesinski: That’s exactly right. And you can’t go anywhere. You can’t complain to anybody. I mean, you can vent for a while, but you are gone. You’re gone. And that’s why you just have to think it through.

Darius Teter: For example, does it make more sense to use local consultants as agents or to establish a dedicated team onsite to set your company up for success? And how might your strategy differ depending on the dynamics of that market or the operational demands of your business?

Steve Ciesinski: Well, it’s all situational, of course. What’s the country like? What’s the culture in the country? How do they do business? People think it’s similar between Chile and Mexico. It’s completely different. The safe thing is to have somebody who will leave your team in Mexico City and establish something in Santiago. Or boy, you’re going to go big time and you need São Paulo, and that Brazil’s 200 million people. It’s Portuguese, different culture, way different than Mexico.

Darius Teter: How do you ensure that that person not only shares your vision but is trustworthy and committed to drive the business? And what do you do in places where maybe that kind of reliability isn’t actually the norm?

Steve Ciesinski: If you’re going to go to another country and you’re not going to be there personally as the founder, then who’s going to run that country for you? Is that person trustworthy? Is that person, your brother, your sister, your uncle? And even then —

Darius Teter:That may not be good enough.

Steve Ciesinski: That may not be good enough. You need to have your co-founder or somebody very, very close who’s been with your company, understands your culture, and is going to move there for a couple of years and then partner up with somebody there, find somebody there who eventually can become the general manager of that business, because you’re expecting that business to take off. You wouldn’t be going into a country unless you’ve done enough research and you found that that market is going to be as big, maybe bigger, maybe 10 times bigger than the country, Tanzania, or whatever country you’re in, the Philippines, Manila, but you’ve decided not to go after Indonesia or Vietnam for whatever reason. We guide our MBA students to — you have to have somebody there that you completely, 100 percent trust because things will go wrong and when things go wrong, you don’t want to have somebody who’s spinning things to you and telling you this and telling you that, and all of a sudden you’ve got a lot of problems.

Darius Teter: As a startup, securing funding with a reliable investor is a universal challenge. And for businesses operating outside of traditional tech hubs and VC hubs like Silicon Valley, the financial landscape looks totally different in terms of access to capital, legal and regulatory framework, and enforceability of contracts. And this might even be the most important: investor mindset.

Steve Ciesinski: If I’m starting up a company, I am not at all worried about funding, where my funding is going to come from. If I’m successful, I’m going to have a seed, a series A, a series B, etc., etc. However, you have to be thinking about that if you’re in Ethiopia, if you’re in Ghana, if you’re in Chile, one of the most southmost countries in the world, where is your money going to come from? Is it going to come from Latin America? Is it going to come from Brazil? Where is your money going to come from before you even get rolling? Because you could very easily fall into a trap where your business is successful, but you can’t do much about it because there’s no funding. So your funding is necessary because Chile, for example, that I know pretty well, is a pretty small market, and once you’ve established yourself in that market, Latin America calls you — aside from Brazil, everyone is speaking Spanish, some form of Spanish.

Regulatory is different, of course, but cultures are very similar in many cases. So you got all that on your side, but what are the things that are going to get in your way? And it could be government affairs, it could be distribution, how things are distributed. One of the companies that we feature is a company that does mental health, an app that — she has 4 million clients who are using her app, and it’s been increasing even since she’s added AI. The predicament is, she can’t get people to subscribe. Here in the U.S., it’s not unusual for subscription to work. In Mexico, no one wants to, that’s not what you do. That’s part of the culture that you don’t subscribe. So what do you do? How do you build a business model when you’ve got product-market fit, clearly accepting that no one’s paying, and where do you go first?

Right? Because other countries may be calling businesses and so forth. So how do you make a decision around that? We talk about the problem with series A here in the States. You get a product-market fit, you think you have product-market fit, and now you spent nine months, 12 months, 18 months trying to find a good series A. Meanwhile, you haven’t paid yourself. You’re paying half of what a lowly wage would be, even in a startup company, to your employees who are very, very loyal, dedicated to you and so forth. Well, you really see that in developing economies. There aren’t a lot of growth VCs in Africa, in the continent, in Latin America, the continents, in Southeast Asia and certainly in Eastern and Central Europe. So that means you may have to find a U.S.-based VC who likes to do international and specifically in the territory that you’re in.

Darius Teter: Does that mean also having a legal entity in Delaware so that they have some kind of relief if things go south?

Steve Ciesinski: Well, that’s a really interesting point. The predicament about me as a VC working here out of Silicon Valley investing in a company in Tanzania is, gee, that’s a Tanzania legal company. Or maybe they’ve even done Mauritius, which is very common, but I don’t know Mauritius law, I don’t know if that’s similar to Delaware law. I use Wilson Sonsini or Cooley or Morgan or whatever here that we use that have affiliates in these situations. But that means the cost is rising for me as an investor, and I don’t ever know whether I’m going to get money and my LPs are going to get money out of that particular situation, Tanzania. Obviously, it helps if that Tanzania company can then become a subsidiary of a Delaware-based company that I am familiar with and that my attorney is telling me the attachment is so strong legally that we have ways of being able to deal with that.

But that can be a real, real hindrance and that will stop VCs who might be international VCs to invest. But in addition to that, it’s an early stage company. I like to invest in early stage companies. I like to do it where I can have a cup of coffee, so to speak, with my founders. Well, I can’t just jump on a plane like I could going down to L.A. or up to Seattle or to Denver and two hours later meet somebody in the airport and get back the next day. That’s not the case that’s going to be in Kenya, and it’s not going to be the case in Ethiopia. It’s certainly not going to be the case in Ghana, as you know. So how do I deal with that and how can I trust that things are going the way people are telling me? Zoom is a wonderful instrument, but how do I stay in touch?

Darius Teter: Last year, Kenya led Africa in venture funding, surprisingly outpacing giants like Egypt and Nigeria. And this raises an intriguing question. Are we seeing a shift towards more local capital investment within the continent itself?

Steve Ciesinski: Well, it’s got to be the future. We peaked a couple of years ago, there was something like $600 billion on venture, and that’s a huge number from where we were 15 years ago when the market was $50 billion globally. And now all of international, including Western Europe, has exceeded by a little bit like 52 percent to 48 percent, 55 to 45 percent versus U.S., but not a lot is going yet into Africa, less than 10 billion in Africa, early stage and so forth. Of course, valuations are better there, so you get more for the dollar, so you can walk through the different numbers and maybe that would be the equivalent of 20 or 30 or 40 billion dollars worth going in. I think what will happen is you want to see our more breakout type companies, as we’ve seen here in the U.S. when Intel broke out and many years ago in Microsoft and Apple and so on, and people really took notice.

You want to see more of those happen in emerging economies. Some of these, the companies that are public companies, they’ve brought a lot of wealth, they’ve brought a lot of great employment. They spawned other PayPal kinds of mafia-type founders and so forth. And if you can see more of that where this kid who’s now 13 years old hears about somebody who’s pretty famous and it’s not an American, but it’s somebody in Nigeria or in Ghana or in South Africa or wherever the case may be, and yeah, I want to be like that. How do I do that? That really can get things moving.

Darius Teter: But so far it seems like 90 percent of that energy is in fintech and a little bit in e-commerce. Is that just because those are the greatest market opportunities and the easiest to grow?

Steve Ciesinski: Well, they take less capital to grow. I’m a big fan of climate tech, clean tech, biotech, and a variety of other techs, agritech. But generally speaking, when you say those terms, if you’re a VC, you’re thinking, okay, how much has to go into a particular company in that industry on average …

Darius Teter: And how patient do I have to be —

Steve Ciesinski: — before a cash flow break even happens? Okay, and how if I’m an early stage investor, do I get so diluted that it just isn’t worth it to me? So I think that’s why you see these things happening. Also, those are industries where you can really have a major impact quickly in a marketplace with either consumers or businesses to be able to exploit the opportunities. You’ll see a lot of failures in these sectors, and VCs have realized that is in fact the case when you’re experimenting and trying different things, and that’s why it gets back to the entrepreneur. How clever is that entrepreneur? Is she capable of building a team that can also be looking out for opportunities to pivot, to move into and quickly take advantage of certain market opportunities that otherwise you have to — as we say, we all say this — we have to get out and play in traffic. You’ve got to be talking to customers. You’ve got to be understanding what competition is going on and so forth.

Darius Teter: Here at Seed, we spend a lot of time thinking about the impact of AI, and in our most recent episode, we spoke with Professor Ethan Mollick about how AI will affect how we learn, how we teach, and how we do business. So I was curious about Steve’s view on AI and what it means for SMEs in emerging markets.

Steve Ciesinski: I think that that’s a real opportunity for Africa, Latin America, all these economies that we work in because, since there aren’t a lot of great sophisticated systems and people are still doing things on a piece of paper, so to speak, AI can be huge productivity tools in businesses as well as personally. So I think that there will be some really interesting things. Don’t be surprised if we see reverse innovation coming back from developing economies, back here to the States, on things that we just took for granted, but now, gee, we can integrate those into our society.

Darius Teter: Necessity is a mother of invention. I think about all of these business processes — outsourcing law review, legal review, outsourcing insurance, claim review, outsourcing even things like x-ray review — being done by humans in low-cost labor markets like in India. I wonder if all that’s just going to go away.

Steve Ciesinski: I don’t think so. I think you’re going to hear more and more of the term “copilot,” and as we all know …

Darius Teter: Which Microsoft has appropriated.

Steve Ciesinski: Yeah, almost. Yeah, I guess it has, maybe. So I think that you’ll see AI actually be very additive for manufacturing lines in accounting systems and will help pick up on errors so that you can dispatch work, whether it’s quality or payments or what have you, more accurately with more precision, with more confidence, fewer errors and so forth, or nail things early on versus catching them down at the “production line,” whether it is in business or in your personal life, or what have you. So I just think that technology has been around for quite a while, and every time we have something new come out, robots and so on, “oh, it’s going to replace a lot of things.” Well, we’re at the lowest employment rate in the United States, I don’t know how many years, 20, 30, 40 years, some crazy number like that. There’s still plenty of job opportunities, and here we are with a renaissance of technology that we’ve seen in the last 20 years and more to come, and all I see is that getting better and helping more people become skilled at what they do.

Darius Teter: It’s great to have that positive response because I’ve been reading a lot of doom and gloom. What are those next market creation opportunities in emerging markets? Because part of your thesis is that there’s incredible opportunities. Some of that is just replicating what we’ve done here. So part of it feels like let’s do in Africa what we’re already doing in the U.S. and that’s the opportunity. It’s unmet, pent- up demand for the things that we take for granted. Is that it or is there …

Steve Ciesinski: The SME opportunity, not just in developing economies, but also in the U.S., is a big, big opportunity. Why do I say that? Well, in the old days, only very, very large Global 2000 companies could buy or license technology from the app companies like Oracle, for example, to be able to run their financials or run their HR or run their manufacturing and so forth, because it took a long time. It was expensive. You had to buy your own equipment, you had to keep up with it. There were a lot of bugs and so forth. All these other companies had different software sets than you did, they wouldn’t —

Darius Teter: … talk to each other.

Steve Ciesinski: It was just a total mess. And so SMEs were completely on their own, and so they had to use Excel and they had to use, eventually, email and so forth to get work done. Well, the advent of SaaS salesforce.com, using Salesforce as an example, is you don’t have to be a big company anymore to use big company-like tools. As a matter of fact, the technology has advanced so much that the number of bugs have declined, the sophistication of the technology can be yours even if you’re an SME. So if you’re a hundred, 200, 400 million dollar company, if you’re a 100-person company, you now have some tool sets that are being brought to bear that you can use in your own company that are actually economic for you to bring in because of SaaS and some of the other ways AI will help out as well. That was not the case some time ago, and what we’ll see is — so we’ll see these SMEs take off because they don’t need to raise and they don’t have to have, and they can’t raise anyway — capital to grow because no one will believe them. But now the capital that you need to expend in order to bring these tools in, you don’t have to expend that much capital. You don’t need that much capital. So I really think that AI will only help that situation.

Darius Teter: Today, we’ve explored the delicate art of entering new markets across national boundaries. The process extends far beyond just having an outstanding product. It means understanding culture, bureaucracy, language, and a host of other issues. There is no cookie-cutter approach even for digital cloud-based or other online businesses. In particular, Steve reminds us that the common challenge of talent acquisition and retention is exacerbated when you’re operating in foreign countries, and you may need to rethink your whole human resource model. Are you clear on your logic for establishing a legal presence or operating through agents and consultants? Similarly, raising capital for expansion is even more challenging when your business is based far, far away from your potential investors. They want some kind of legal comfort that if things go sideways, they can still get their money. At the same time, they’re interested in businesses that can scale beyond the relatively small market where they were founded. So your challenge is also your opportunity. If you can demonstrate the ability to operate across multiple countries, you’ll be more appealing to investors who have already shown an appetite for those riskier places. Steve shares the fundamental optimism of our previous guests, Acha Leke and Ethan Mollick, that AI and a host of cloud-based applications are leveling the playing field for SMEs relative to large corporates. As the cost of these tools continues to fall and no one person or company has a natural advantage in how to use them, we might see another productivity surge that’s actually borderless.

I’d like to thank Steve Ciesinski for sitting down with us today, and I’m grateful for his time and insights. Erika Amoaka-Agyei and VeAnne Virgin researched and developed content for this episode. Kendra Gladych is our production coordinator, and our executive producer is Tiffany Steeves with writing and production from Nathan Tower and sound design and mixing by Ben Crannell at Lower Street Media. I’m Darius Teter. This has been Grit & Growth. Thank you for joining us.

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