NZTE’s Investment Fix discusses the do’s and don'ts of scaling in the US market.
Investment Fix is a podcast series from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) for New Zealand companies in growth mode, needing to understand their investment options.
This season, host Dylan Lawrence dives into the US market, considering the opportunities it holds for New Zealand companies, what it takes to grow a business and build a brand there, and how to secure the funding needed to make it happen.
In this episode, executive board director and consultant Roz Buick and Parkable CEO Toby Littin talk about what it takes to build a business in the US.
Here’s a ChatGPT precis for the episode or listen here.
The episode opens with a discussion on the allure of the US for New Zealand companies, emphasising access to capital, customers, and the potential for limitless scale, while exploring the sectors that hold interest in the US, ranging from fintech and construction tech to biotech and agritech.
When it comes to the ideal timing for entering the US market, Littin suggests "yesterday", while underscoring the need for a robust infrastructure and a clear understanding of the go-to-market strategy. He stresses the importance of adapting products to the US market.
Buick emphasises the significance of thorough market research, underscoring the need to match product and go-to-market strategies. Littin cautions the listener on the importance of early preparation for scalability and streamlined operational processes.
The host questions whether the founder or CEO should be based in the US, with both Littin and Buick agreeing that a senior executive's presence is crucial for effective communication and adaptation to the US market dynamics.
The discussion shifts to the selection of the US location, considering factors such as talent pools, macroeconomic conditions and legal regulations. Littin emphasises the importance of timezone and the impact of family satisfaction on the success of executives relocating to the US.
The conversation delves into the cultural and business differences between the US and New Zealand, emphasising the American focus on growth, investment and a collaborative mindset. Buick points out the need for Kiwi companies to think big strategically while executing small. They discuss the cultural nuances in employment practices and the importance of scrutinising credentials, cautioning against overreliance on impressive resumes.
Littin underscores the importance of focusing on the largest players in the market, especially in B2B, and building early traction with big brands. He shares the story of winning a deal with Meta (formerly Facebook) during the pandemic, highlighting the significance of demonstrating value and having a strong culture.
Buick adds that SaaS sales require a scientific approach and stresses the need for targeted strategies in a rapidly evolving market. The discussion covers the level of competition in the US, the importance of building relationships and finding network partners, and the need for localisation and adaptation in product and go-to-market strategies.
The conversation also touches on common mistakes made by New Zealand businesses entering the US market, including underestimating the importance of product strategy and assuming that an existing sales organisation can sell any product.
Both Littin and Buick emphasise the strengths of New Zealand businesses, such as innovation, nimbleness, a good work ethic, and cultural openness, while cautioning against the tendency to decrease professionalism too quickly.
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