Guest Post - New York New York, so good they took 21!
By Stewart Townsend on Oct 01, 2008
Guest Post - From Jake Stride - Tactile CRM
Sun Startup Essentials recently helped the UKTI take 21 of the UK's most promising digital companies to the US to learn about doing business over the pond and how to access funding.
Tactile CRM was one of the lucky companies to be on the Digital Mission and found the whole experience eye opening and a great success, as there is a second Digital Mission to SxSW in March, the following may help you decide if it is for you.
Imagine the scene: 21 UK startups land in New York City on the day the US financial markets start to tank – queue plenty of jokes about UK bad luck, and how startups now look like a better investment than banks. It was going to be an interesting week.
Digital Mission NYC was broken in to 2 halves. The first couple of days were about understanding the US market, employment law and how to access funding/investors in the US, the rest was based around the Web 2.0 Expo and meetings people had arranged.
As a web-based contact and sales management system for small businesses, Tactile CRM already has customers in the US and Canada (about 60% at present) so the main focus for the week was about meeting with customers and suppliers to build the Tactile CRM brand and recognition rather than trying to meet with potential investors.
The first couple of days gave us access to some great seminars about the legalities of running a business in the US, support and programs available to foreign companies in New York and some great networking events, including one at the British Consulate.
Two things became immediately apparent from these first couple of days:
- There seems to be a strong divide between the East and West coasts, New York is far more of a digital/design scene, whereas the West Coast is much more about tech/software startups. This isn't a black and white divide but worth bearing in mind.
- Investors like to have you close by. So if you are looking for investment, you are more likely to succeed if you can move closer to them.
The second half of the week was the Web 2.0 expo. The conference was very well run and plenty of web 2.0 glitterarty where in attendance.
For Tactile CRM this was the most important part of the week. We used the opportunity to meet with existing and potential suppliers and had pre-arranged several meetings with other software solutions we would like to work with/tie into our software. Combine this with the number of networking events during the day and evening that were being arranged around the expo and it made for a hectic but useful few days. It would normally, take months to meet the same number of people.
All in all the Digital Mission was a great success and cannot be recommended highly enough for people thinking about it. As long as you understand what it is about, have clear goals for the week and plan what you want to do, it's a great investment for your business.
As an added bonus each of the companies that went have at least 20 new friends from the Digital Mission and a lot closer ties and network of expertise to access (it was worth it just for that) - there was even talk of people getting together for their 'next' startup!