Start-ups are expanding their horizons, says Benjamin Oviatt, management professor at Georgia State University. Along with Patricia McDougall, management professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, Oviatt spent last summer in Europe interviewing the founders and top managers of global start-ups, new ventures that are "born internationally," he says, "deriving resources from multiple countries and geographically unlimited in their creator's vision and their potential." Multinational from inception, those companies break the traditional expectation that a business must enter the international arena incrementally, becoming global only as it grows older and wiser.

According to Oviatt, there are seven characteristics of successful global start-ups:

1. Global vision from inception

2. Internationally experienced management

3. Strong international business network

4. Preemptive technology or marketing

5. Unique intangible asset

6. Linked product or service

7. Tight organizational coordination worldwide

-- Alessandra Bianchi