The Leith Society: Managing International Growth for Professional Development and Networking Firm

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Abstract

In April 2017, Mr. Kristian Groth, a successful entrepreneur and founder of the Leith Society, was considering his next move. The Leith Society is a professional development and networking organization based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The firm differentiated itself from numerous competitors through its intensely personal approach, in which members (primarily businesspeople but also participants from the creative professions) sought out their true inner selves through interaction with groups of like-minded individuals facilitated by trained psychologists. No online presence was in place, and in fact was rejected by the founder. Less than four years old, annual revenues had grown to nearly 30 million DKK (about 4 million USD) from the 650+ active members, and margins approximated 40%. The firm had successfully transferred its value proposition to nearby Norway and the Netherlands (in Oslo and Amsterdam respectively), but Mr. Groth had his sights on larger markets. He had recently recruited a seasoned manager as CEO and tasked him with development of a detailed operating system which, he believed, would allow for rapid scaling of the organization into new markets. The two had undertaken a visit to the USA in that Spring of 2017 to explore options there; during the trip a meeting at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley with students in an MBA global strategy course raised the possibility of also entering China.

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