Reading Robert Scoble’s blog post on how launching a startup outside of the USA is much easier than it used to be, prompted me to think about our journey in the world of startups.
After building a prototype and running a small closed Beta program outside of the USA, we received very encouraging results. Despite the fact that my co-founder and I come from a technology and product development background of many years with many contacts in the industry, we found it extremely difficult to open doors and create opportunities at a local level.
It wasn’t until we made it to Techcrunch50 last year that things started to change. Venture Capitalists were willing to listen. Potential customers were willing to listen. Making Techcrunch50 assisted us in securing a government grant. The point I’m trying to make here is, that if you get noticed in the United Stated, then you get noticed everywhere. Despite the fact that startup communities and supporting ecosystems are developing and gaining momentum outside of the USA, the USA is still the centre of the Startup universe.
The Silicon Valley culture is all focused on tech and startups. You visit Palo Alto, especially University Ave and you can feel the buzz around startups in the air. Wherever you meet people and you pitch your idea, they just get it and the feedback is always constructive and in many cases valuable. The opportunity to meet VCs, angels and bloggers is immense. We even met Robert Scoble and had a long discussion about tech trends and opportunities. This just doesn’t happen outside of the USA. The opportunity for such interaction is non-existent.
The positive side is that things are changing for the better round the world. Here are some things that we have done that have really given us some traction and attention:
1. Make sure you are on Twitter. Tweet often and focus on your core strengths and knowledge base.
2. Network with the Startup community locally.
3. Network with as many relevant people in the USA, via Twitter, Blogs etc
4. Attend a tech conference like Techcrunch50, even if you don’t get to present.
5. Watch, This Week in Startups with Jason Calacanis. Watch TWiT with Leo La Porte, read Techcrunch and Mashable and many many others.
Creating your own virtual startup ecosystem made up of local and overseas contacts. It creates a knowledge and resource pool that is there to help you find answers to the inordinate number of issues and questions all startup entrepreneurs face.
It will still take some time for other countries to come even close to the USA when it comes to entrepreneurship and startups. When we can wear failure as a “medal of honour” showing that we have fought the battle before and when we are asked about our vision and what we are trying to create and change, before we are asked for a business plan, that will create an environment that will foster innovation and change.