By Aleksander Farstad - Norwegian born, global entrepreneur and investor and member of This Way Up (TWU) & CEO-Collaborative Forum, @AleksFarstad
The North American market is the Holy Grail for European entrepreneurs. Any ambitious European business plan includes entering this market. As many of you may know, Inc. just recently launched its 2016 Fastest Growing European Companies an indicator that the two markets are becoming more intertwined.
When you are in retail, it is all about location, location, location. But when you are in a software business, does location matter? Absolutely.
The key questions to ask are:
- What is our goal and what do we want to accomplish?
- Key questions and considerations . . . access to talent, capital, business partners or customers.
What is our goal and what do we want to accomplish?
For our company, the most important reason was access to prospective customers. At eZ Systems we develop and sell content management, digital marketing and e-commerce solutions and our key verticals are media, finance, non-profit, government and brands.
Business partners are also key, as we work with digital agencies that implement our software to build websites and apps.
Talent is what makes any business successful. I have experienced failure by not having the right people, and success always comes down to the team you have.
A few years back we were the blueprint of a European engineering-driven technology company. We needed to turn around our entire company to be successful in the US, and to expand in Europe. This meant becoming more customer-focused in everything we do. Product design, product management and marketing needed to be the driving force.
We wanted to build our product and marketing teams in the US. Question was, where?
Our choice of location ended up being New York, or more specifically Brooklyn, New York. Why?
Let's revisit our key questions and considerations
Customers. There is a high density in New York, D.C. and Boston, especially within our key verticals. New York by itself has a market larger than a medium-sized European country.
Our business partners are digital agencies and web development firms. New York is home to many of the top agencies worldwide, and adding the neighboring cities, we have access to a vast amount of partnership opportunities.
Talent. It is always about talent. New York is one of the largest, most dynamic labor markets in the world. New York offers an unparalleled number of specialists. In our case, we needed people with technical and creative skills to drive UX, product management and marketing, along with consultative, technically savvy sales and business development staff.
While financing was not our reason to come, it might be in the future. And knowing that New York is catching up on Silicon Valley on VC investments is comforting.
Communication between our US team and European offices is a key factor of our success. With a six-hour time difference between New York and Western Europe, our teams' regular business hours overlap for a significant portion of the day. There are also plenty of cheap direct flights, and in 6-7 hours our US leadership is in Paris, Cologne or London.
It's important to like what you do and where you do it. I love the energy, dynamics and atmosphere of New York. For eZ, when you enjoy where you work and live, success is closer.
Designed in Brooklyn, Engineered in Europe
So thank you New York. Not only are you a great hub for our American business, but you have also turned our company upside down. We no longer know if we are a European company in the US or the other way around; we are becoming a truly international business.