Five Tips for the Transatlantic Leap
By Daniel Glazer, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Europe has become a tremendous place to launch a tech business. But for the globally-minded entrepreneur, the US often is the best place to expand. The funding rounds, the customer base, the potential partners — everything in the US is geared towards growth — and thanks to Spark Labs, you can now make it happen pretty fast & efficiently.
You just need to do it right. You could write a book on US expansion, but here are five quick tips to get you started on your journey.
1. Pack your bags
US investors, partners and customers increasingly are interested in European startups, but they’ll typically expect you to have key people on the ground.
Investors want to leverage their network and expertise; partners and customers demand responsiveness and accountability.
Get started early on addressing personnel matters. Sorting out immigration issues might take a few months if you’re relocating or sending colleagues. Take your time even if you’re hiring local – retaining the wrong people can be a major setback. Spark Labs can help you every step of the way with all these issues related to US expansion.
2. Location, Location, Location
Choosing where to launch is crucial. New York offers manageable flight-times and time zones and a concentration of potential customers.
The West Coast’s robust VC community is an undeniable lure. Many US locations provide significant tax and other incentives to entice high-growth businesses.
The right decision factors in many considerations: proximity to customers, suppliers and investors, ease of management, availability of talent, and costs of operation.
Be sure to utilize the US Government’s SelectUSA market research tools, as well as your home country’s local and US-based government advisors (e.g., UK Trade & Investment, Enterprise Ireland, etc.) & of course Spark Labs can also help you in this process.
3. Protect what’s yours
Your European patents and trademarks don’t extend to the US, so consider filing US applications. With some planning, your European filings may allow you to establish US rights prior to actual US expansion.
Adapting your standard terms and conditions to the US market often is advisable. US partners may balk at signing an agreement governed by another country’s laws and respond with their less-favorable form agreement.
Spark Labs & Fried Frank can help you make sure you have this all worked out by the time you launch your US operation.
4. Watch your back
US commercial opportunities are vast, but you need to recognise and navigate the legal risks.
The US business culture is aggressive, in part because – unlike in much of the rest of the world – each party to a US lawsuit typically pays its own legal fees, regardless of the dispute’s underlying merits.
US entities often use the threat of costly and distracting litigation to negotiate favourable business outcomes. Useful risk mitigation strategies include US insurance policies, good compliance programs, and unambiguous contract drafting.
5. Leverage your team
Savvy US entrepreneurs view their advisors as partners, providing a shield against threats and complexities that distract from core business.
You’ll more easily stay focused by building a seasoned, cost-effective US advisory team – a US lawyer, banker, accountant, insurer, etc.
And don’t be shy about leveraging their networks for US introductions; US entrepreneurs expect that value-add.
Spark Labs can help you source the right mentors, select the right partners & eventually hire the right team for an efficient US expansion.
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Over the next several months, we’ll be blogging on various aspects of US expansion and US fundraising. Next month’s post will take a more detailed look at addressing the challenges of setting up a US office.
**About the Author**
Daniel Glazer is a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he leads the New York office’s technology transactions practice and also advises UK and other non-US companies on US expansion, fundraising and strategic partnership transactions. Dan’s practice focuses on commercial, IP, and technology matters, with a particular emphasis on licensing, sourcing, and services arrangements. His clients range from early-stage start-ups to Fortune 100 companies.
**About Spark Labs**
Spark Labs is the global network for innovation. We believe that fostering great businesses starts with having the right environment, team, mentors and local connections. Being entrepreneurs ourselves, we know that launching or expanding a company into the US can be difficult. That’s why we’ve decided to develop a revolutionary ecosystem for entrepreneurs with a very strong focus on community, network and relationships. You can read more about Spark Labs on our website spark-labs.co.