Contact Us

Global Expansion Insights

Want to receive helpful expansion best practices? Subscribe here.

How The Right Mindset For International Expansion Can Get You Millions Of Customers

Rentbrella's Freddy Marcos applies The Global Mindset: Launching an international brand with universal appeal

“What’s in a name?” said Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. A whole heap of factors comes into play when you’re faced with coming up with a company name that is destined for the international stage. This was the challenge of Freddy Marcos, who, in 2018, thought about starting an umbrella-sharing company in Brazil.

“From the beginning, we wanted a name that was unique, meaningful, and would help us build the right image for a global brand. We were only considering English names, even if it’s hard for Brazilians to pronounce,” says Freddy. “ From playing around with combining the words rent and umbrella, Rentbrella’ turned out to be the winner as a friendly and memorable brand name. “It worked wonderfully especially when we expanded to the US and UK.” 

Five years later, not only did Freddy and his co-founder Nathan Janovich manage to start the world’s first umbrella-sharing company, but also made it the largest and most successful of its kind. Today, Rentbrella has 800 stations with hubs present in the biggest urban centers of the world– Sao Paolo, New York, and London.

RELATED: Does your organization need help in uncovering the missing gaps to successfully reach global scale? Book a consultation so we can walk you through the process

Freddy’s approach to building a fast-growing company

Coming up with a name that is primed for international expansion is part of Freddy ‘thinking global day one,’ and a key to Rentbrella’s fast business growth. Now more than ever, it’s important for companies to adopt this global mindset from day one to be able to plan for and mitigate complexities from the beginning. Yet, only a handful take on this difficult shift and thus limit their expansion potential.

Read on to learn strategies that Freddy applied to deliberately create international growth in mind, to reach millions of customers across three continents in just a few years. We’ll also discuss the Global Class Mindset, which Freddy agrees to be a comprehensive list of mindset traits that enable a company to successfully launch and reach a global scale.

#1: Begin with a global mindset from day one

Freddy understood that English is the language of global business. That’s a huge challenge in Rentbrella’s HQ in Brazil, where only 5% of Brazilians speak some degree of English. To solve this, the company committed to a strategy of improving its English communication skills. The founders hired a teacher who was available to help staff with translation at all times. The teacher also used game-based learning techniques and an online platform to track progress. 

Leadership commitment to learning was also crucial as Freddy and Nathan spoke English at work. They integrated language learning into company culture in every way they can, conducting events such as “Happy Hours” and “English Breakfast Days”, where English is the only language spoken.

“Hiring is forever, so the challenge of training our teams to be fluent in English will continue forever,” says Freddy.

By supporting them to improve, he believes that the commitment to developing multilingual talent who communicate effectively positions Rentbrella at the forefront of the market.

The English training of employees very early on is part of Freddy having the vision to think global day one. This vision is listed as #1 out of the 4 elements that make up the ‘Global Class Mindset,’ a mindset that is proven to lead to successful international growth. This is in direct opposition to the ‘Legacy Mindset.’

Having the vision to think global day one means building all aspects of a business, such as product, team, culture, and operations, to localize for multiple markets. In Rentbrella’s case, this corporate English training undeniably primes them for expansion success.

#2: Localize the business to fit the local market while staying true to company principles

Another strategy that Freddy employed is to adapt the product to the culture and language of customers while still remaining true to company principles. As an example, they discovered that New York and London had a demand for small umbrella rental stations, about two feet less tall than the standard size. They built this prototype exclusively just for those two markets and nowhere else. The localization was so successful that the stations were almost always sold out.

For these discoveries to happen, communication between HQ and local teams has to be consistent. Rentbrella holds regular “All on-hands meetings” where the leadership and employees meet to discuss company-wide matters. Through these meetings, they discovered that in London, there was a demand for a web-based app where previously they were mobile-first. They created the web app, realized that it was well-received by users there, then eventually made it available globally.

#3: Allow HQ as an enabler

Freddy established early on that the Brazil HQ’s main role is to support the mechanisms and teams and their mechanisms to enable the company presence in local markets. In other words, the goal is to be an enabler, not command-and-control. This sentiment echoes what Chang Wen Lai, cofounder of Singapore-based Ninja Van said, “Headquarters is not a control tower, it’s the underground cables helping the company run.”

One of those “cables of support” that Rentbrella set up in their Brazil HQ is an ‘International Team’ whose main job is to empower local teams. They translate local culture and customs, foster cross-cultural interactions, and improve speed and productivity by directing local teams to the right resources. 

#4: Distributed hiring strategy

Rentbrella embraces a forward-thinking approach to its talent pipeline by building in diversity and a distributed strategy for hiring. For example, the ‘International Team’ mentioned earlier also onboards new teams in markets outside Brazil and is in charge of creating processes for new hires to develop deeper company knowledge.

Internal recruiting is also a strategy that Rentbrella employs to provide employees with opportunities for geographic mobility. In their engineering and production departments, they found out that they have interpreneurial talent who want to work internationally. These Interpreneurs turned out to be great stewards of company culture and became even more engaged in their roles when given growth opportunities.

The Bottom Line: Why The Global Class Mindset Is So Important For Global Growth Success


Freddy’s strategies echo all of the Global Class Mindset elements:
1. Think global day one
2. Leverage a decentralized talent strategy
3. Position HQ to be an enabler and supporter of local markets
4. Implement a strategy that finds the local way of running a business

Thinking global day from one is the first step in Freddy’s successful approach to launching Rentbrella. He had the right mindset by coming up with a universal and easy-to-understand company name and by employing English language corporate training in the Brazil HQ.

So what’s next? Rentbrella plans to expand to at least 10 other countries in Europe in the next 2 years. Since they have adopted the 4 elements of the Global Class mindset, their global growth journey is in perfect condition for thriving expansion success.

Does your organization need help in uncovering the missing gaps to successfully reach global scale? The Global Class Mindset is just one of the many concepts we discuss in our book, Global Class. Take this assessment to determine your Global Capability Score and learn how your organization can improve its approach to global growth.

About Global Class

The Global Class team has developed THE playbook that teaches organizations the right mindset, culture, and strategies to successfully build global businesses. Through consulting engagements and practical tools (+ case studies built from conversations with over 400 executives from the world’s fastest-growing companies), we help executives with companies valued at $1B to $100B reach global scale. From market entry to global scale, we help companies build the foundation for successful global growth through management consulting services, customized platforms, and more. 

If you'd like to learn more about Global Class and implement strategies and tools that we have developed, reach out to us!

Want Helpful Expansion Tips?

Signup to receive the latest international expansion best practices based on insights from industry-leading global companies.

You're safe with me. I'll never spam you or sell your contact info.