Moving to the US is the dream for many international founders, but it may or may not be the best thing for the business. Last week a group of GAN founders from outside the United States toured San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boulder in order to better understand the business landscape in the US. In our meeting with VCs, successful entrepreneurs, and industry experts, we learned that the common motivations to move to the US need careful consideration:
Your customers are in the US.
This still doesn’t mean you should completely relocate. Bernard Moon, co-founder of SparkLabs Global Ventures, suggested that if the US is your primary market, the key management, sales and other relevant people should be based here. However, other parts of the business can still be based in their home country, like the engineers and designers.
You want to raise money from US investors.
You will have a hard time getting any VC’s time if you are an ocean away from them. At the same time, you will also be facing intense competition and relocating will not guarantee anything- focus on raising capital in your home country first. Brad Feld, VC at Foundry Group, reminded us “you want to follow the ‘pull’ from your network of customers and investors rather than trying to ‘push’ into a new market.”
You want to find more talent.
Yes there is a lot of talent in the US, but also a lot of fierce competition and it will likely be more costly. While the US has a lot of talent available, it might still be more advantageous to find it in the place you already are. Nate Redmond, Managing Partner at Rustic Canyon, reminded us that talent is the most important aspect of any startup. If you need to move or add a location to find the talent needed to scale, then it may be a very strategic move.
You want to scale by moving to the US.
First you need to be realistic about how your product will take off in the US. What works in one country may not work in the States. You likely will need to “start over” in order to find your market fit and build up a new customer base. But if you are willing to make major pivots then it may pay off.
So how can you know if moving to the US is the right move for your business? Taking trips to network and experience the culture of startup hubs in the US can help you figure out if it’s the right next step. Ultimately there are no shortcuts, and if the opportunity looks right for your business and you are ready to put in the hard work, by all means go for it. However, the most advantageous place for you to be may not be in the United States.
Photo Credit: Remster