My idea is leveraging a person's social/professional network for warm leads.Basically if you're looking to do business abroad and you need a local to connect you with qualified, vetted people/agencies/clients/leads/distributors/factories on the ground, you can hire a local agent in your selected industry and request x number of leads in certain industry or just ask them to do on the ground tasks for you instead of flying there or sending an employee. You can choose to pay per lead or per deal closed or per assignment.
It's like having on demand locals anywhere to help you get business done as they know bureaucracy of their country more.
How can I validate if there's demand for this service? Does this already exist? (I'm not sure what words to google to check this) Direct or indirect competitors?
I don't think lead generation is trivial enough for these locals to do it passively for you, just by virtue of their existing network. Isn't this more like hiring a contract salesman?
In my company that I work on, every time we are trying to expand to a new location, the CEO of our company always go to the location to survey the aspects that you mention like some leads, demands, factories, and competitors.
But I think that you still need some degree of connection in that place. That's probably why networking is very important. I mean, you don't know who you might need in 5 years.
I have used local connections often in the past. I would not randomly accept an introduction, each time working with partners who knew trustworthy people on the ground.
A US citizen has to be incredibly careful to not violate the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) that criminally charges us if we pay a bribe, or know a bribe has been paid. For that reason, we are highly selective about the local representation we have used.