With only a few weeks left before the ‘17 batch sets foot in the U.S., the temperature is rising. Everyone has been hard at work, the Impact team and the 17 co-founders alike, getting ready to launch operations in the U.S.
Impact’s alumni have all been through this and they kindly accepted to share their tips with all entrepreneurs planning to launch in the U.S.
1. Set clear goals & prepare yourself even before arriving
“Prepare and plan ahead what you are seeking in the U.S., have clear objectives prior to arriving” declares Makazi CEO Hervé Malinge. Different companies have different goals for their first few months in the U.S. While some of them want to generate new business opportunities, others want to focus on raising money or on signing strategic partnerships. Whatever your goals are, define them and set clear KPIs.
“Be ready to start from day 1 in the U.S.” states to Romain Chaumais, CSO and co-founder of Ysance. The preparation should start prior to your arrival in the U.S. “Impact acceleration program is a 20-week program: 10 weeks in France in order to prepare your marketing and your pitch and 10 weeks in New York or San Francisco to test it, fail early and prove it as fast as possible.”
Fred de Gombert, CEO of Akeneo, confirms that the adaptation of their positioning to the U.S. market was critical to their success in the U.S.: “Because our European pitch was so different from the U.S. codes, it was absolutely necessary to adjust it. We spent long hours with the Impact team, coaches and experienced mentors to refine it before even starting to reach out to prospects.”
2. Adapt your organisation to be fully committed to the U.S. development
Launching in the U.S. is a big decision for any French entrepreneur, regardless of their company’s experience, size, funding, or traction. Deciding to open an office in a new country, and especially in the U.S., is never trivial and impacts not only the management team but also the whole company.
“You should organize your operations in France in order to be 100% available to work on your American growth”, declares Antidot CEO Fabrice Lacroix. “Prepare your arrival to the U.S. early on by limiting interactions with your French operations, so that you can fully dedicate yourself to the program and be 100% free from ongoing operations in France”.
Simon Tchedikian, CEO and Founder of Sevenhugs recommends to all the entrepreneurs who think about launching their operations in the U.S.: “If you want to go to the U.S., you have to go full way and not halfway!” Simon himself now lives in San Francisco with a U.S. team and has set up a French organisation that allows him to be fully dedicated to the U.S. growth.
3. Involve everyone in your company
Any launch in the U.S. is really intense, but it is especially the case if you decide to take part in an acceleration program, which often involves a lot of workshops, events, networking and coaching. It truly is a transforming experience that can leave one disconnected from the teams in France if not handled carefully.
4. Things move fast, and so should you
Speed is an essential aspect of the U.S. market. If you want to be successful in the U.S., try to do everything faster.
Romain from Ysance explains: “We had to learn how to present our company and be straight to the point. When in France you have 30 minutes to do so, here 2 to 4 minutes is all you have to explain what you do and how you do it.“
Read our last article to learn more: How to Ace your Business Meeting in the U.S.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, feedback and contacts
“Americans are really accessible, regardless of their titles or positions, and their feedback is always constructive” says Giroptic‘s former Chief Strategy Officer Marian Le Calvez. Asking Americans for advice and feedback is key if you want to understand the U.S. business culture, your market, but also to get the right contacts for your development. In the U.S. more than anywhere else, “Who you are is who you know” and you should also adopt this mentality.
For Penelope Liot, former Head of US Strategy & Operations at Lima: “As soon as you arrive, try to meet as many people as you can. Most of the people you will contact will say yes and it’s always interesting to meet different people with their own experience.”
6. Listen to the feedback and adapt your product(s)
Being able to shorten your roadmaps and quicken your execution is necessary when launching in the U.S. “Stay open minded & take all the feedback you receive. This will allow you to better your product, your operations & processes” says Jarvis Legal’s VP North America Anthony Yeremian.
For Vidcoin Co-founder & CEO Jérôme Vuillemot, this attitude had positive outcomes “All the meetings and feedback we received right at the beginning of the program from many different players within our industry allowed us to start concentrating on only one of our product instead of the three we had before.”
7. Don’t wait too long to come to the U.S.: it also benefits to your French development!
“Spending 10 weeks in the U.S. helps you realize all the organisation problems you have in France. In fact, the program also helped us accelerate our internal organisation and processes to ensure a better international development.” That’s what Rémi Aubert, CEO of AB Tasty told us at the end of its intense 10 weeks with Impact USA.
In short, it’s easy to see that preparation, goals setting, focus and open mindedness are key to make a success of your American experience. We’ve listed a few outstanding acceleration program that can help you kickstart U.S. operations: Techstars, 500, YCombinator, ERA and of course Impact USA!