Our very first Feedback Session in San Francisco was about discovery, persistence, and risk – all characteristics of the American (startup) dream. The workshop was led by one of our Impact USA alumni, Matt Lhoumeau, Founder & CEO of Concord. Here is why we could not have kicked-off our program any better:
Concord is a powerful case study in Go-to-Market strategy. After participating in the first edition of Impact USA (called Ubi i/o at the time), they successfully migrated into the American market. They have since raised over $16.5M in funding, have grown their team to around 40 employees and have signed large enterprise clients such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, Intel, and Johnson & Johnson.
Concord’s humble beginnings started with a pain point experienced by Matt himself – the inability to efficiently negotiate numerous contracts simultaneously. As he says, “Anyone who has been part of a contract signing process can relate to this problem”. He developed a product and started to gain some traction and market in France. However, his ambition was to turn Concord into a global company, and as time went on, he realized he needed to conquer the American Market.
Matt says American business culture can largely contribute to a startup’s fast scaling and growth: “I would emphasize coming to the US as soon as possible. In the US, everything goes much faster. If you ask for a business meeting, it can be scheduled in 24 hours and can take place later in the week. Billing cycles tend to be significantly shorter”. “Additionally,” Matt continues, “Most of the purchases are bigger, while sales cycles are also shorter. You’re also dealing with one currency, one language, and one market in terms of Sales and Marketing.” Marketing, according to Matt, helped get the engine running: hiring a local VP of Marketing, deeply knowledgeable in best practices, was one of the best decisions he made early on.
One of the most popular questions from our entrepreneurs was, “What advice would you give to a foreign startup that has just landed in the US?”. Matt says that Concord’s American customer references are among their strongest selling points. He recommends building an American customer base as quickly as possible. Mastering storytelling is an equally important point. “American VCs care deeply about the personal motivation that drove you to build your own company. Americans are “self-made” and therefore, you must show “self-made” potential.”
Throughout the session, Matt placed great emphasis on competition. “Competition is real in the US, and particularly in San Francisco – not only in terms of product, but also in terms of talent. A lot of companies start in San Francisco, but you will see that after a Series B they seek to build teams in other cities.” Matt also acknowledges he received an enormous amount of help from Americans he met upon his arrival, and encouraged our entrepreneurs to be open to this “Pay it forward” mindset that is so unique in American business culture. “In America, there is a tradition for CEOs to help other companies build connections in order to raise funds” he says, “you can meet anyone at anytime, and you must be ready to tell your story.” Thanks to Matt, our entrepreneurs are one step closer to being ready. Stay tuned!