So you have an app, or some other bad-a$$ invention. Mad devious. Since 85 % of tech exits are done in the Valley, you’d better move your ass to California damn quick if you wanna be a high baller. However, before doing so, you’d better know these seven differences between the US and EU biz habits and you’d better prepare to deal with them in order to avoid looking like some weird refugee. I’ll skip the basic parts for now – sure, when being overseas, don’t be late, Americans have less day-offs, pitching matters a lot, taxing is different. Whatever. Today we’re digging deeper than that.
Business in the U.S. is much faster. You’ve got to reset your inner metronome and get used to working faster – which doesn’t necessarily mean more hours, it means more effectively. It can certainly be the case that you might have days in which nothing significant happens, not every day is filled and intense. You will travel a lot in the Valley or L.A. as you jump from meeting to meeting. These types of meetings are what connect you to those who starts shit-testing you by following up quickly – and you have to match that intensity immediately! She opens her Rolodex and starts widening your network. Use these opportunities at once, use them wisely and don’t screw it up. It’s both generous an act and a shit-test at the same time. If you fail passing it, one real opportunity was lost.
If you get caught up with the rhythm, you’ll start enjoying the helpfulness of local folks. The startup community tends to give a hand to fellow entrepreneurs with two or three things for free – intros, advice, insights explained in half an hour. Follow up immediately, express your gratefulness but don’t be a leech; expecting or forcing more than 2 or 3 bones thrown will make you look like someone who doesn’t respect other people’s time. This kind of helpful attitude is based on giving back to the community, but it’s finite. Don’t ruin your street cred by abusing others beyond the two and a half generous acts.
Adult Supervisory Board
Coming from Europe will make you look exotic – for twenty golden seconds. After that, you’re a weirdo newbie with painful accent, no cred, no roots, and little opportunity to do a decent background check. Unless you involve locally respected folks as colleagues or advisors, the general reaction to your enthusiastic pitch will be “Interesting…”, which, in American, means: “You suck, your startup sucks and anyway, the Earth is overpopulated. Get back to your own planet.” You need local heroes establishing your presence. Moreover, the lion’s share of your leads will come from these big guns. So just freakin’ go get them on board.
The United States is the world’s strongest economy. If you’re coming from a small country, you do need a serious brainwash in order to have the right mindset for doing business here. The good news is that you can make serious money solving problems that didn’t even come up as issues back home. Bad news is the competition. It’s killer! Another hog-wild thing is opportunities of scaling: Overseas, your growth potential is monstrous. Always try looking at the next zero when thinking about growing your company. There are more levels than you’d ever dreamed of. Budgets are much larger, quality usually means more than price. Let me dumb down for ya: you’d better quickly scope out someone who can assist in your brain washing. It takes time, so start early.
Hypes and evergreens
Although Silicon Valley is the very center of technology, people are subjects of mass psychosis here as well. There are two types of startups in the Valley: evergreens are solving some – usually niche – pain. Others are surfing the latest buzzword; these are often identified as flavor-of-the-month startups. In reality, it’s not that fast-changing, a buzzword more likely to last 6-12 months. You’d better know what the current flavor is though, because nobody’s interested in seeing outdated ones. Couple of years ago, it was Facebook. Then green energy. Nowadays it’s bitcoin. Try putting that one word into your pitch. Some folks might snap at it.
Getting visibility is thorny
Doing biz in the US is trench warfare when it comes to marketing. The competition is so strong and marketing budgets are so large that getting some visibility for your startup will surely be over your head. There are some keywords in Adwords that could cost you more than the one week budget of an Eastern European student. Yeah, one lousy click. And it’s likely to bounce back. Even if you’ve been funded, you’ll badly need shortcuts. Try either employing a growth hacker, or contracting a good PR firm. We love PMBC Group, despite being located in Beverly Hills in LA, prices are reasonable, references are phenom and to top it off, the ladies look like movie stars – male founders are likely gonna be left mouth agape and speechless. Anyway, do think of alternative ways to get visibility. I’m serious as a heart attack – the usual approach won’t work out.
California is pretty much a dream spot to live, as most of us think about it. Many will think your life is all riding high, especially if the rest of your troops stayed at your – probably slightly less hyped – home country. And what is the ultimate symbol of an exotic chill out for an Eastern-European guy? Palm trees. If you ever post a dope pic on Facebook or Instagram with a palm tree on it, you’re busted. Even if you’re working your ass off, building your company 24/7 and sharing a terribad room with your dawg somewhere in the burning barrels side of the ghetto, the perception of your buddies, investors, colleagues back home will be as though you were on vacation. Typical team-disrupting bump in the road. Take my advice, coz sooner or later you’ll need to have your cred in your hinterland. Be deep. No palm trees. Ever.
Remember, in Rome, do like Romans do – especially if you have a barbarian’s accent, attitude and habits. I could list a motherload of other specialties but these seven should be like a thousand lawyers chained together in the bottom of the ocean: a good start. Feel free to amend the list in the comment section. Have a good California, fellow entrepreneurs!