ubi i/o’s third day in San Francisco was a special one as our 10 CEOs pitched an American audience for the very first time. Our grand opening at the W Hotel made for a memorable evening surrounded by our partners, mentors, alumni & various investors.
Our day began with a breakfast in company of Ramon Jimenez, VP North America @ Sublime Skinz. We invited him to give our entrepreneurs some insights on how to ace their business meetings and how to be efficient at networking.
“no religion, no politics and don’t flirt”
Business customs in the U.S. are slightly different than the ones in France. For example, showing up late to a meeting is rude. “ When people say they only have 30 minutes, they only have 30 minutes. So be on time.” If you arrive early, it’s not a big deal, ask the receptionist for the wifi and patiently wait for your interlocutor.
How to obtain a follow up meeting? Ramon advised to be straight forward, and ask what the next steps are. As a general rule, don’t hesitate to ask the questions you care about (what software solutions are you currently using, what are their recurring costs etc.) There’s nothing wrong with being forthright. It’s also important to avoid certain topics like religion & politics. No need to find yourself in a hot spot because you suddenly felt like sharing your opinion. Oh, last but not least, don’t flirt.
During lunch time, Julien Boedec: Director of Strategic Partnerships @Evernote, John Spottiswood: VP of Partnerships @LendingClub and Pierre Hulin: Director of Client Solutions @Planisware came to our HQ to talk about relationships with large companies. There is a huge difference between sales and partnerships. One of their advice was to use the art of storytelling to create new partnerships. According to them, the worst mistakes dealing with large companies are:
-being too aggressive
-pressuring the process
-assuming you know what the potential partner’s needs are
After the workshop, all CEOs quickly got back to practicing their pitch before the big event. At 6.30pm, our guests started making their entrance at the W and got the opportunity to chit chat with our participants. After an introductory speech by Stephane Alisse, Managing Director of the Technology and Services Practice for North America at Business France, each startup delivered a four minute pitch introducing their outstanding technologies.
— Benjamin Bouygues (@benbouygues) April 20, 2016
— ubi i/o (@ubi_io) April 20, 2016
We’ve observed it for the past two editions, our entrepreneurs truly start to excel in their pitches 3 to 4 weeks in the program, but overall their first presentations were quite sharp. Speed networking ended the evening around canapes & wine, this is a French accelerator after all.
Be ready to test the waters throughout your first year
In New York, our 8 startups started the day by assessing their first steps in the U.S. Christophe Ménard, Chief Programmatic Officer & Founder @SUBLIME SKINZ and Loic Moisand, CEO & Co-founder @SYNTHESIO came in to talk about their experiences.
The two entrepreneurs agreed that there are some preconditions & requirements to make it in America
1/ Make sure that your startup is ready to attack the market. For instance, SaaS startups have to generate enough revenue in France to sustain their U.S expansion that can often take time.
2/ One of the co-founders has to be willing & ready to move to the U.S.
3/ Be ready to test the waters during year one. Establishing your initial network is the tough part. It’s going to take some adjustment and some brainstorming to not only craft the proper messaging but also find the accurate profiles within the various verticals you’re targeting.
The second step is about raising funds & recruiting. You should be aware of two things:
1/ Under certain conditions, Americans do invest in French Tech Startups
2/ The recruiting process can be very tricky. Americans are very good at selling themselves, they learn this process early on in their education, but that doesn’t necessarily means that they are the right fit for the job. The panelists advised our entrepreneurs to take their time before hiring someone.
After this first workshop, 4 startups stayed in Business France’s HQ for their one-on-one session with our dedicated marketing coach Jillian. They will have to continue working on their presentations tomorrow to be fully prepared for the VIP Opening Night on Thursday.
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