For many technology startups outside of the US, launching in America is the ideal next frontier. The US is the largest tech market in the world and offers tons of growth opportunities for startups.
Our advice: before going through the daunting checklists and endless articles on “How to expand your business in the US,” consider joining a virtual international accelerator program.
After years of running virtual programs with companies from across the globe, we have compiled a list of benefits, things to watch out for, and what to prepare when joining an international accelerator.
1. The environment is conducive. With the global pandemic forcing most all of the world to operate online (including investors), this could possibly be the best time in history for international companies to take advantage of the virtual environment.
2. Save. Save time, save money, save resources, save headaches, save – period.
3. Get clear. Too often, startups from outside the US make the mistake of reaching too broadly across the vast US market. Simply expressed, if everyone is your target, no one is your target. By joining an international accelerator, you can do the critical work of identifying target markets and achieving readiness for market validation upfront. After all, the market you’re catering to in your country might not translate to the US.
4. Get plugged in. Start connecting and building relationships with advisors, mentors, industry experts, potential customers, local startups, key players, and other members of the startup community that can help navigate the complexities of the US ecosystem.
5. Friendly fire. Work one-on-one with dedicated advisors and other startup experts who are willing to give you feedback just because they want you to win. These advisors can also be great resources to help manage possible language barriers.
Things to watch out for.
1. Innovation tourism. Take a close look at what’s on the program agenda. Is it packed with meetings with brand name companies that are not relevant to your industry and virtual tours of Silicon Valley service providers who are eager to pitch you? Ideally, the agenda should include educational sessions with industry experts that provide real value as you prepare to expand into the US.
2. Cookie cutter program. What content is going to be covered in what type of sessions? Is it back-to-back generic “Marketing and Sales 101” talks in a large group with companies at a different stage than you? Your time will be best spent at sessions with qualified investors and strategic partners that have time set aside for Q&A followed by a hands-on Product-Market fit exercise with scheduled time to work one-on-one with your dedicated advisor.
3. Who’s in charge. Find out who is facilitating and supporting the program. Are they mostly dot connectors? The best programs are led by Subject Matter Experts, people with investment experience, and seasoned entrepreneurs who have both failed and won a time or two and can give you real, been there done that feedback and mentorship.
Things to start thinking about and preparing.
1. Value proposition in the US. One of the biggest mistakes companies make when expanding into the US is failing to differentiate their products or services. You’ll want to get clear about why customers should buy from you instead of your competitors.
2. Become a leader in your local market. If you’re successful in your local markets, then you probably know a thing or two about what it takes to sell your product. It also shows people are willing to pay for your product and therefore, proves product-market fit, a top reason it’s hard for startups to scale internationally according to Forbes.
3. Secure funding from local investors. The ability to raise money is critical for startups regardless of location. Your chances of raising capital from US investors increases exponentially if you already have investors on board.
There’s no doubt that expanding into the US Market requires considerable research and diligent planning. Leveraging the expertise and resources available through an international accelerator program can shorten timeframes and provide companies from outside the US with the tools and knowledge required to scale their business into the US Market, without breaking the bank.
At Nex Cubed, we are dedicated to providing companies from outside the US with the resources necessary for scaling their business, understanding US Market entry, and raising capital from US Investors.
As part of our partnership with Enterprise Singapore, we are now accepting applications from Singapore-based Digital Health startups for our three-week virtual acceleration program focused on preparing the companies for US market entry. Click here to learn more.