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Starting Up and Marketing in the U$A.doc

  1. 1. Starting Up and Marketing in the U$A A Guide for Irish Technology Companies
  2. 2. Contents Section 1 – Background and Overview  Introduction  Current Situation  Necessary Research and Preparation for Market Entry Section 2 – Marketing Planning and Strategies  Introduction  Brand Positioning  Goals  Strategies and Tactics  Product Decisions  Pricing  Designing Promotion and Communication Strategies (including PR)  Channels and Distribution (see section 3 on Selling Strategies)  Promotional Ideas for a Small Budget  Corporate Marketing Communications  Web Marketing Section 3 – The Sales Team  Introduction  Recruitment and Selection  Employment and Compensation  Employee Retention  Cultural Factors  The Marketing and Sales Cycle  Selling Strategies  A Guide to Presentations  Effective Networking, Trade Fairs, Conferences  How to Retain Customers Section 4 – Legal and Financial Issues  Introduction  Getting Started  Choosing a Legal Entity  Visas and Work Permits  Accountants  Banking in the US  Venture Capital and Financing Section 5 – Operational Issues  Introduction  Where to Locate and Why  Finding a Suitable Office Space and Location  Adapting to US Standards  Telephone and Internet Access  Office Furniture, Equipment and Stationery Enterprise Ireland’s Services in the US Bibliography 2
  3. 3. Background and Overview  Introduction  Information Relating to the Guide  Current Situation  Necessary Research and Preparation for Market Entry Introduction The US is the world’s largest software market and has traditionally been a key target market for Irish technology companies. In recent years, the US software industry has been characterised by the entrepreneurial flair of many of the founding companies who became industry leaders. This characteristic lends itself greatly to growing Irish companies who need to expand quickly and establish themselves in a new market. The Irish software industry is well recognised in the US which further enables upcoming Irish technology companies to better position themselves to target this market. The growth of the Irish software industry here has been exponential - in 1993, for instance, nine Irish software companies had offices in the US, with that figure rising to 180 by 2003. Irish technology companies have generally been attracted to three geographic locations: New York, one of the three “world cities” that control world finance, the Boston / New England area, with the largest concentration of universities and colleges worldwide, and finally, California, one of the most concentrated technology clusters in the world. The US offers an overall market of 290 million people and one of the world’s strongest economies. However, the marketplace differs from that of Ireland and the UK in many ways. Large, aggressive, dynamic and multicultural, the US market offers as many challenges as it does opportunities to Irish technology companies. The most important challenge for an Irish company entering this market is to find the right marketing approach. Marketing in the US is about identifying, conceptualising, communicating and satisfying the wants and needs of clients and partners. It is about having a meaningful understanding of the market and the people within it. This means not focusing solely on the final consumer, but on all people with whom you interact if you want to successfully break into, and stay in, the world of opportunity that the US represents. Entering the US market is an expensive process and is not to be undertaken lightly. It requires considerable time and focus from senior management as well as careful estimation of the costs involved, and assumes adequate funds are available. Information Relating to this Guide This guide aims to provide a framework for Irish technology companies to assist them in setting up operations in the US and to think through the marketing issues that need to be considered in this intensely competitive market. The guide provides insights into every aspect of the process of starting up and marketing in the US and relates them specifically to the US marketplace. It provides useful tips on the sales team, marketing planning and strategies, legal and financial issues (including venture capital) and operations. It includes specific information on Silicon Valley, the Boston / New England area, and New York. Where possible, references and internet addresses have been provided to help you further. Starting Up and Marketing in the USA updates and combines the essence of the two earlier guides produced by Enterprise Ireland – Starting Up in the USA and Marketing in the USA. Given its nature, the important elements of each topic can only be discussed in brief. Readers are 3
  4. 4. advised, therefore, to seek further input on those topics that are crucial to their success in the market. It is hoped that, with the help of this guide, Irish technology companies will be able to enter the US market knowledgeably, confidently and, most importantly, successfully. The Role of Enterprise Ireland Enterprise Ireland provides many services to help Irish technology companies assess their sector in the US market, plan for market entry, network, gain customers, set up an office, provide office space, and recruit staff. The appendix gives contact details for the US offices of Enterprise Ireland and lists the services that Enterprise Ireland offers in the US market. While care has been taken in the writing of this document, Enterprise Ireland accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions. Enterprise Ireland cannot vouch for the credentials or character of all the contacts and/or company names provided. Current Situation The US economy experienced rapid growth throughout the 1990s. By 2000, the economic downturn had begun, and by early 2002, the economy had effectively stalled. Spending levels in many sectors, such as telecommunications and finance, have plummeted. However, the US economy is very resilient and the indications are that it will show steady growth in the years ahead. In fact, in Silicon Valley, industry analysts believe that the current economic downturn has spurred a new wave of innovation. An increasing amount of resources are being invested in R&D projects that are more likely to succeed in the marketplace. Companies are now, more than ever, seeking technologies that reduce time and resources in the production process, driving the demand for effective hardware and software to meet their needs. This has in turn created a demand for faster and more efficient technologies with Silicon Valley leading the drive. "In 2003, the hangover will be largely irrelevant; the economy will be paramount. Recent discussion with influential IT buyers led to an inescapable conclusion: while IT spending is low, IT user needs are high. If the economy improves in 2003, no segment is likely to experience a more profound recovery than technology" (Arnie Berman, Chief Technology Strategist at the Sound-View Technology Group). Given the current state of the economy and the low spending levels in many sectors, US high tech companies have become highly cost conscious. This has created an opportunity for Irish companies seeking to establish themselves in the marketplace to leverage their cost competitiveness and value in order to gain market share. It is true to say that venture capital investment also took a big hit in the same period. In the late 1990s, entrepreneurs could secure hundred million dollar valuations for their companies based on little more than a business plan. After the burst of the bubble, venture capital companies went back to basics. They now have concerns regarding the front-end and back-end of the deals they are evaluating. On the front-end, they are concerned that young companies are going to have difficulty gaining traction in terms of customers and revenues, due to the lower levels of technology spending. On the back-end, they are concerned about low valuations and lack of liquidity. 4
  5. 5. “Neither the venture capitalists nor the entrepreneurs are impervious to business cycles or the public markets”, says Tracy Lefteroff, of the venture capital practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, “entrepreneurs must recognise the fact that only the most fundamentally sound deals get done.” Sectors that currently hold the promise of growth include biotechnology, nanotechnology, mobile and broadband communications, and productivity improvement software. For the most current information on the US economy and venture capital investment go to Necessary Research and Preparation for Market Entry The US market is highly competitive and does not allow for second chances. Therefore, thorough research, analysis, planning and preparation are needed before entering the market to sell your product or service. The following is a checklist of key areas to research and address prior to market entry:  Target Market.  Market Drivers.  Industry Revenue Patterns.  Size of the Market Opportunity.  Analysis of Competitors.  The Company’s Strengths and Weaknesses.  Analysis of the Opportunities and Threats.  Legal Structure.  Financing Requirements.  Resources Needed.  Management Team.  Compensation.  Geographic Location.  Visa Requirements.  Home and Personal Issues.  Have you consulted with Enterprise Ireland to discuss your plans and find out how they can assist you? Carrying out the above analysis and preparation will give you the best chance for success. 5
  6. 6. Marketing Planning and Strategies  Introduction  Brand Positioning  Goals  Strategies and Tactics  Product Decisions  Pricing  Designing Promotion and Communication Strategies (including PR)  Channels and Distribution (see section 3 on Selling Strategies)  Promotional Ideas for a Small Budget  Corporate Marketing Communications - Effective Marketing Materials - Elevator Pitch and Speeches - Implementation - Evaluating Results  Web Marketing - Rules for your Website - Increasing the Visibility of your Site Introduction It is recommended that marketing planning be carefully formulated in Ireland before arriving in the US. Nonetheless, note that situations are likely to arise that were overlooked or that you will find aspects of your plan are not viable in a US context. The important thing to keep in mind is that strategy emerges from the network of employees, customers and partners you put in place. Customers help drive strategy so the earlier and more often you engage with them, the sooner you will develop an effective marketing plan. The greater the amount of uncertainty in the environment, the greater the need to pay attention to changes in the market and to act on vital information. The following are the key aspects of your marketing efforts that we suggest you look at before your arrival and re-examine on a regular basis to ensure you remain informed and competitive. Brand Positioning Positioning is the core marketing element. It provides the focus for your sales team, and for your partners. It tells your potential customers what differentiates you from your competition. Your company has a de facto position and brand, whether you intend it or not. Therefore you need to do all you can to develop it and articulate it the way you want it to be. A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis will already have been completed in the planning process prior to expanding into the US. The answers to the following questions will help you clearly position your brand for market entry.  Who are you primarily selling to? Target Audience  How do you want your business/brand to be perceived? Brand Identity  What are the products or services you offer to meet the client’s needs? Description  What is the key unique benefit/advantage you offer that is different and meaningful to your customers? Value Proposition 6
  7. 7. Articulating the value proposition is key to getting the interest of your prospects. The Value Proposition Note that your key advantage is a benefit that is unique to your company. It is something that:  Your prospects want.  They can't get elsewhere.  It distinguishes you from your competition. It is the cornerstone for all of your marketing activities and will meet four criteria:  It is a positive benefit, being something your prospects need.  Nobody else offers it. The more unique and hard to copy, the better.  It can be stated simply.  It can be communicated verbally and visually. Remember that your offering is more than just your product or service. For more information on product offering, refer to “Effective Marketing Materials” and “Elevator Pitch and Speeches” in Section 2 under Corporate Marketing Communications. Goals It is worthwhile having specific goals for each market that are attainable. Attainable goals are SMART: Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time based  How much business do you have now (number of new clients, revenue, market share)?  What is the specific goal (number of new clients, revenue, market share)?  How will the goal be measured?  How believable and attainable is each goal?  How realistic are your goals based on the resources and time you have?  What is the timeline for accomplishing the goals? Strategies and Tactics A good way to start formulating strategy is by reviewing the past year’s strategy and performance. Some areas to look at include:  What worked and what did not work?  What were your goals at the beginning or throughout the year?  What 20% of your Irish customers generated 80% of your business and does that relate to the US market?  Which were the most profitable?  How did people find you?  What customer needs did you satisfy? 7
  8. 8.  What marketing efforts produced little or no results? Marketing strategies that work in Ireland may not necessarily work in the US but this is a good starting point. Pick the two or three strategies that were most cost-effective and gave you the best results. Focus your efforts here and make any adjustments needed to adapt to the US market. For established companies, a rule of thumb says that 30% of the marketing budget goes to prospects, 10% goes to your general market or region, and 60% goes to existing customers. However, at market entry this may look very different and 60% of your budget may target qualified prospects. The marketing strategy concept differs from the selling concept, primarily by focusing on the needs of the buyer as opposed to the seller. The issues to consider include:  Carefully defining your target market.  Customer orientation – where your customers’ needs are identified, from their perspective, and then met, creating customer satisfaction.  How is this done? By coordinating marketing activities, including working with your sales team on pricing, trades shows, public relations etc.  The key goal is to make a profit and effective marketing can do this best by satisfying and even exceeding customer needs – above and beyond what your competitors are doing. Product Decisions In preparing your product or service for export, here are some questions that are useful to answer:  Does the product or service need to be localised and, if so, how?  What labelling and packaging changes, if applicable, need to be made?  Who will be installing the product?  What kind of warranties are on offer?  Who will provide a follow-up service?  What documentation is required to support the product or service?  Is the documentation localised for the US market?  Do we have a product demonstration to show prospective clients?  How will the product be distributed? (see Selling Strategies, under Sales and Marketing in Section 3)  How will the product be priced and what is our pricing policy?  What is the product life cycle and update strategy? Pricing Pricing is one of the most important determinants of market share and profitability. Carefully planning pricing strategies is critical therefore, especially when entering a new geographic market. It is a major factor for your potential buyer and will also be the only element of your marketing efforts to generate revenues rather than costs. Some Common Pricing Pitfalls to Avoid  Too cost oriented /focused.  Not revised sufficiently to adapt to market changes.  Not flexible enough to accommodate different customer or market segments. 8
  9. 9.  Not part of the positioning strategy. Your company should determine where to position its product or service in relation to two key factors – quality and pricing. For example, if your product quality is high and your price is low, your strategy is described as “great-value”. Conversely, if you have a high quality product and your price is also high, you are adopting a premium pricing strategy. The following is a guideline to help you develop your pricing policy.  Pricing objective – in relation to your marketing objectives.  Determining demand – in new sectors look at uniqueness and benefit to customers.  Estimating costs – both fixed and variable.  Analysing competitor prices/offers – match like for like.  Selecting a pricing method – mark-ups, market price, perceived value, target return.  Selecting a price - weighing all the factors and making a decision. Designing Promotion and Communication Strategies The type/s of product or service will determine the importance of your promotional strategy. For business-to-business products the strategy differs from that of consumer goods. Typically, a push strategy is used where the sales force is primarily concerned with reaching the end user either directly and/or indirectly using channel intermediaries. It is wise to assess the promotional activities of direct and indirect competitors. Quality is a hallmark of most US promotional strategies and materials so be prepared to at least match, if not exceed, their efforts. Survey results and interviews with successful Irish client companies in the US indicate that the following are the most important promotional tools for industrial goods.  Personal Selling  Sales Promotion and Incentives  Trade Shows  Lead Generation and Direct Marketing  Public Relations Enterprise Ireland can help with lead generation, trade shows and public relations. Personal Selling This is the most effective tool when the buyer is in the process of evaluating alternatives to your product or service and building a preference for what you are selling. You can address the customer needs specifically and provide information required in the decision-making process. It also starts building customer relationships that may yield greater rewards over the long term. Sales Promotion & Incentives The most cost-effective promotional tools for your sales team include a presentation, a brochure and a website. Driving prospective clients to your website should give them more detailed information including your work approach, clients, white papers and case studies. 9
  10. 10. Some incentive may be extended to the prospect or client in order to win the sale. Many companies initially offer their product or service to a client at a deeply discounted rate, both to establish a relationship with them and to acquire some performance results from a reputable name that can be leveraged for future sales. Trade Shows (also see Section 2) Respondents to our survey indicated that this was one of the most effective strategies for them in the US. It is important to plan well in advance to attend a trade show, not only to take care of the logistics but also to strategise how you want to work the show. Two very important practical areas to prepare before the show are:  Getting very comfortable with your 30-second elevator pitch, 5-minute lobby speech and 15-minute latte speech.  Organising a lead generation system at the booth. Lead Generation and Direct Marketing A typical lead generation system looks like this:  The lead generator learns about the company and their objectives.  A profile of preferred customers is gathered including market segment, company size, location, target person.  Raw data is gathered on companies that match this profile.  The results are evaluated and matched to the clients’ specifications.  A list of targeted companies is developed.  The right person to target is found.  The lead is followed-up on to assess level of interest. The company may express current interest, no interest or future interest.  This feedback is then shared to determine the next steps to market directly to these qualified companies. Enterprise Ireland, in its overseas locations, is heavily focused on lead generation activity for its clients, covering all of the steps described above. Clients contribute toward the cost of undertaking this work. To initiate a project, contact either your Enterprise Ireland Development Adviser or the Marketing Adviser in your chosen markets. Public Relations It is tempting in difficult times to do without a public relations agent or agency. Companies often tend to view public relations as an after thought, or do not even consider it in their marketing efforts. However, public relations agents and firms provide many marketing roles beyond managing media relations so it is wise to not overlook their importance. Hiring a public relations consultant that has strong industry experience in your sector can prove to be invaluable in several ways. He or she can help:  Develop good and steady relationships with your trade media.  Provide media training to key executives that act as spokespeople.  Complement and create synergies with your other marketing activities.  Provide an outside perspective on your activities and results.  Deliver bad news to the press.  Mitigate bad news and help in crisis management. 10
  11. 11. However, if you cannot afford a public relations consultant or firm, there are some activities, such as sending press releases, that you can manage yourself. These can also be posted on your website and e-mailed to prospective and current clients. When developing and implementing your own public relations programmes, bear in mind to:  Narrow your focus and target the print, radio and TV media in your market segment only.  Use a template to format your press releases. If you don’t already have one, you can find one easily on the web. One good source is the Microsoft Template Gallery for Small Businesses where you can download all types of templates from this address:  Follow up to see if the press release was received and inquire who the right contact person to speak with is.  Stay in touch with your contact editors or reporters and when you have new or time sensitive information that pertains to you or your field, share it with them to build the relationship and credibility. Promotional Ideas for a Small Budget  Create and distribute case studies and white papers. Co-present at a trade show seminar by supporting a speaker with a good case study.  Undertake an e-mail promotion using e-mail addresses from so-called "opt- in" lists and gathered from qualified prospects that visited your website.  Write articles for newspapers, local business magazines, trade publications, and print and electronic newsletters.  Alert customers, prospects, analysts and qualified leads when you post a new case study or white paper on your website.  Find public speaking opportunities where you know you will have a qualified audience.  Include your company name and contact information in your e-mail signature. If you have just launched a new product and have a demo on your site, include a line about that too. Keep your signature current and relevant to events in your business.  Get links to your website placed on trade association, local Chamber of Commerce, trade show, networking and other relevant websites.  Invest in high quality marketing materials to get started – business cards, a brochure and stationery.  Use relatively low-cost software such as SitePromoter ( or services such as Submitit (, which will let you automatically submit your website to search engines and directories and will also check your ranking with them. But keep in mind that traffic will come from the larger search engines such as Google, Yahoo, etc. 11
  12. 12.  Develop referral partnerships that offer non-competitive services or products to your target audience and get reciprocal links to each others websites.  Gather strong testimonials from clients and include them on your website and brochure.  Issue press releases on new products or services but make sure that your news is relevant and has a hook to catch the attention of the press. Corporate Marketing Communications Effective Marketing Materials Knowing what your brand positioning is and creating your messaging are essential for developing effective marketing materials (see section 2 on Brand Positioning). Marketing material incorporates and communicates your positioning, and requires constant evaluation of the effectiveness of your message. From there, you will develop your elevator pitch and other speech materials. It is helpful to gather competitors’ materials to learn how they position themselves and see the quality standards that they uphold in their materials. US companies tend to be very good at brand positioning. Creating your Positioning  What are the pain points or problems your audience needs addressing?  What is different about what you do – what are your strengths?  What solutions/benefits do you provide to solve the above problems? Communicating your Positioning  What are the most important and meaningful differences to promote?  What information does your reader need and at what level of detail?  What is the most clear and concise way to communicate a single message in a distinctive way?  Do you have the necessary logo, business cards, brochures, fact sheets and website to support the sales team? Evaluating your Message  Evaluate the message based on desirability (inform), exclusiveness (persuade), believability (reminds).  Does the headline and graphic (if used) summarise the value proposition?  Do you have strong endorsements or testimonials?  Are the tone, manner and image consistent with what you want to create?  How can you better differentiate your company’s services?  How can you better describe the benefits and motivate the buyer to make a choice? Your materials are most effective when they address the following areas:  Your clients’ problems.  How your products and services address those problems and provide satisfactory results.  How your approach/solution/results/experience is the best choice – your unique value. 12
  13. 13.  Testimonials and case studies that illustrate the solution you provided and the results that ensued. If you can benchmark these against industry standards, all the better.  Background information on your business including relevant projects, clients and philosophy.  Your work process so that they are comfortable with how you start working and the steps involved. Elevator Pitch and Speeches In the US, opportunities to talk about your company are abundant because business is commonly talked about outside of the workplace. Be ready to clearly and concisely communicate why someone should do business with your company. It is important to develop three distinct pitches and speeches to fit with the various opportunities to speak with prospective clients:  The 30-second elevator pitch.  The 5-minute lobby speech.  The 15-minute latte speech. Here is a template for developing a 30-second elevator pitch: I work with… Target audience Who want, or are ready to… Solution or desired end result So that… Value proposition – positive benefit Because… Situation or problem And an example could be… I work with e-commerce companies who want high performance e-security systems so that their customers no longer have to wait on line before being able to access their products and services securely because right now the customer experience is unsatisfactory Implementation Implementation is about turning the plan into action to achieve the stated objectives: who does what, when and how? Some of the questions that need to be answered include:  What support do you need to implement a plan?  What resources do you need relating to time, money, people?  Who does what?  When should it be completed?  How will it get done?  Who and how will the plan be managed?  What team members need to be informed?  What action items will be delegated to them?  What can you do to motivate and reward the team for a successful job? 13
  14. 14. There are four key skills for effective implementation of marketing programmes:  Allocating skills – budgeting time and financial resources (for example, how much to spend on an advertisement).  Monitoring skills – evaluating the results of the marketing actions.  Organising skills – developing an effective working team.  Interacting skills – ability to get things done by influencing people. When evaluating results and performance here are some of the questions that help in fine tuning the process:  What were the client’s expectations?  Where these met, not met or exceeded?  If not met, did you overspin your pitch?  What would you do differently?  What are some ways that you can keep in touch with old clients and get referrals?  If met and exceeded, how can you continue to improve your service and performance?  Are the needs of your clients changing?  How many leads did you get from your site and what adjustments might you need to make to improve the numbers? Web Marketing In the US market, a heavy emphasis is put on the quality of your website and much use is made of it. Some useful guides for your website include:  Focus your home page on your target audience and their needs. Focus your site on the US market. This includes using US spelling. Also, be aware that many people in the US may not understand common Irish business sayings. You may want to touch base with an Irish contact working in the US to get some advice.  Indicate that you understand what’s important to your target audience and that you offer what they need. Clearly state your solutions to their problem.  Make sure the tone of your site is friendly, credible and represents your company accurately.  Demonstrate your expertise in some compelling way with the likes of testimonials, key clients, case studies, white papers, and the backgrounds of top management.  Get the visitor to take one action. Guide EVERY visitor to take at least one step towards learning more about your company and wanting to contact you. Some ways to do this include: - White papers in PDF format - Capturing e-mail addresses for lead generation - Offer a free consultation - Make a specific offer and provide a US phone number. 14
  15. 15.  Be consistent in look and feel. All your marketing materials need to be consistent in image and consistently communicate the same message. Be sure the site reflects how you want to be perceived by your clients. Increasing the Visibility of your Site What do you need to do to show up in search engines? It is both a complex and simple issue. It is complex because search engines often change the criteria that will ensure your site gets a high listing in the results of the major engines. It can also be simple if you pay attention to a few key fundamentals about keywords and search engines.  Keywords Know what keywords are used to find companies like yours. Take a look at the Keyword Suggestion Tool to find out: This site lets you know what keywords are searched for most often and will help you draw up your list of keywords for submitting to search engines. Where to put keywords on your website is equally important. The four most important areas to place keywords are:  The Title Tag.  Description Meta Tag – Include a sentence here that contains both the keywords and a phrase such as your value proposition. For example, a good marketing phrase is, "A process improvement consultant can dramatically decrease the cycle time in manufacturing."  Keywords Meta Tag – Include a few keywords like your business name and US address.  Body Copy – be sure to include your main keywords in the first few paragraphs in particular.  Get Listed in the Leading Search Engines After you have found the best keywords and put them in your website, the next step is to get listed in the top search engines. These are: Google All the web Yahoo Search MSN Lycos Ask Jeeves LookSmart Some of the above search engines impose a fee to be listed. The key thing is to pay close attention to their submission processes and the information that is required. 15
  16. 16. The Sales Team  Introduction  Recruitment and Selection  Employment and Compensation  Employee Retention  Cultural Factors  The Marketing and Sales Cycle  Selling Strategies  A Guide to Presentations  Effective Networking, Trade Fairs, Conferences  How to Retain Customers Introduction Setting up an office and recruiting a sales team in the US requires a considerable investment of time and money. Many Enterprise Ireland client companies who have been effective in setting up business in the US carefully selected one of their own Irish executives to re-locate and manage the process. It is imperative that this person should be briefed on US legislation concerning recruitment practices. Expect compensation for Irish employees re-locating to the US to be higher than the Irish equivalent, although US compensation packages are no longer as high as in previous years. The downturn in the US economy has heavily impacted the sales cycle and the strategies to win new business. As a result, detailed and continual analysis of customers and a focus on problem solving is more important that ever. The key selling strategies are outlined in this section – Selling Directly, Selling Indirectly, or Using a Mixed Strategy. The most cost-effective methods, as experienced by our survey respondents and interviewees, currently used to grow sales are also referenced. Recruitment and Selection When establishing a presence in the US, client companies have used an Irish executive in the initial stage, or someone with experience of Ireland, who closely matches the following profile:  A strong vested interest in the company.  10-15 years industry experience.  Hiring experience in building a diverse team and the ability to hire his/her replacement.  Culturally sensitive and preferably previous US work experience.  A strong spokesperson and presenter for the company who can clearly articulate the company’s vision and what differentiates it from competitors.  Allows strategy to be driven by the people closest to the action at the business level.  Prepared to work hard and have patience in winning a gold client to establish credibility in the local market.  The ability to simultaneously address (a) where you want to go and (b) how are you going to get there in a rapidly changing environment. 16
  17. 17. Recruiting Methods in the US Our client companies have found US recruiting methods to be primarily network driven. The various approaches to recruitment these companies engaged in are outlined below. Many of these are highly cost effective and time efficient methods. All client companies emphasised the importance of using your entire network of contacts when recruiting. Many positions were filled by referrals from customer contacts, employees, business partners, and inexpensive community job board postings on websites such as and Venture capital investors proved useful in providing suitable candidates. Recruiting star performers from your competitors was another rewarding recruitment method. Recruitment agencies, although costly, were also used. When selecting a prospective executive, many client companies highlighted the importance of hiring the right person in the first instance. Their experiences also iterated several points to bear in mind when selecting the executive:  The executive should be clear about the responsibilities and expectations of the position and the scope of the role. Senior management should be very visible and lead strongly.  The importance of communicating to the prospective executive that your company is committed to, and has a permanent office presence in, the US. This helped add to the company’s credibility.  Undertake a thorough background check on candidates and follow up diligently on references. Employment and Compensation Legal Employment Practices Before recruiting new staff in the US, you should be aware of the relevant employment legislation, paying and filing tax returns for federal and state employment taxes, social security taxes and the company’s obligation to withhold income tax from employees’ salaries. Although your legal and accounting advisers will do the detailed work, it is helpful to know the important aspects of these issues to ensure that things go well from the start. Mistakes made at this point can be time consuming and expensive to correct at a later stage. Relevant employment legislation includes:  Employment-at-Will Doctrine.  Title VII – Civil Rights Act, 1964, as amended in 1991.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 1978.  Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 1993.  The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA, 1967, as amended in 1978).  Immigration Reform Control Act, 1986.  Fair Labour Standards Act, 1938.  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 1990. 17
  18. 18. Compensation Salaries for re-locating Irish employees to the US and employing staff locally in the US have dropped from the highs of the early 2000s when compensation packages were at a peak. Typical salaries for experienced sales people with industry experience are 1.5 to 2 times those in Ireland. Generally speaking, salaries vary widely depending on location and required experience. A senior sales manager can expect to earn a base of US$85K to US$150k (with an aggressive commission structure). Recently, stock options are not proving as attractive as previously due to the very low level of IPOs. When hiring sales staff it is important to be very clear on the issues surrounding the sales commission that they will earn. Even though the finer details will be written into their contract, it is worthwhile discussing these issues so that there is no ambiguity involved. This will avoid disputes and bad feeling later on. The key issues that should be addressed include:  When commission is earned.  How commission is earned.  What defines the revenue on which the commission is based.  The commission amounts. Typical components of US employee packages that differ to those in Ireland include:  Health insurance – levels of service for medical, vision and dental coverage can be offered at different costs, by different companies in different locations, and can be an expensive, but necessary, addition to the compensation package.  Employee Share Option Scheme – this was a popular component when share prices were rising rapidly. However, during a downturn phase in the economy they are less popular but should be thought through in advance of being offered.  401(K) Plan – retirement savings that are funded by pre-tax contributions by the employee and sometimes partial or matching contributions from the employer. Employee Retention Being pro-active on certain issues can minimise turnover and keep hiring costs low. The following are a number of practices that can help you retain key employees. Good Hiring Practices Make a good hire in the first place. This requires clear job descriptions, careful screening, an expert interviewing approach, a robust decision-making process, and diligent reference checks. Mentoring and Coaching A good fit will be an employee who also shares the company values. Coaching employees to develop core leadership competencies will help them acquire the skills they need to succeed and improve performance. 18
  19. 19. Competitive Compensation In today’s economic climate, employees are far less attracted to stock options. A good base salary and comprehensive benefits package is important to attract and retain top talent. Managing Change To adapt to a changing environment, a company and its employees must be innovative and remain open to change so that they can be constantly looking for new opportunities. Career Management Provide employees with challenging opportunities for on-going learning and growth that will help develop their careers. Flexitime and Telecommuting Provide flexible work hours and the opportunity to work from home to create a work/life balance for employees. Cultural Factors Key Observations on US Business Style and Culture  Punctuality is paramount. If you are delayed or unable to make a meeting, it is vital to call ahead and advise.  Business meetings occur in almost any context, so be prepared to talk business at parties, in bars etc.  You will encounter many multicultural environments so being open to cultural differences is crucial.  The formalities of meetings such as agendas and non-disclosure agreements are considered important.  Immediate follow-up is expected and failure to follow through on a commitment is likely to affect subsequent actions.  If discussions progress well, US companies typically introduce legalities at an earlier stage than their Irish counterparts.  Pricing is discussed early and in detail, so be prepared to negotiate on pricing earlier than you might typically expect.  Business attire is formal on the east coast and tends to be smart casual on the west coast. It is probably better to dress formally until you know your client. The business culture in the US is open and innovative, and requires an equally open and culturally sensitive sales approach. Many US business people have a direct, informal, optimistic, vocal and sometimes even confrontational style. They are quick to voice opinion. It is advisable to aim to quickly find the core issues they need addressed and to identify a basis for future discussion. Typically meetings end with next steps to be taken by all the parties involved. Your prospective clients will be self-assured with a high level of confidence. Do not be put off by this or by their many questions. This is typical due diligence on your company, product or service. Business tends to be formal and structured when you are selling into more established financial 19
  20. 20. services and manufacturing market sectors, especially on the east coast. The approach to business in Silicon Valley tends to be more relaxed and informal. The Marketing and Sales Cycle The intensely competitive business climate currently being experienced and likely to continue for the foreseeable future means smaller contracts and deeper discounts. Cash strapped top executives, once removed from the decision-making process, are becoming more involved in the sales process and are pushing for cost breaks. Getting a highly respected reference client in the US is an important step to take early in the process. Using beta testing or free product can be a lure that works in this market. Targets may come from contacts previously established through US multinationals based in Ireland. Upon entering the US market, the focus will more than likely be at the beginning of the sales cycle. It is wise to begin with putting your effort and resources towards developing good prospects.  Filling the pipeline – have enough prospects to call.  Following up – call all existing contacts.  Getting meetings – explore prospects’ key needs and offer value added service.  Closing sales – negotiate, acquire and retain a new client. Do not expect quick sales. With the economic slowdown sales cycles are now longer. This means that you must also account for higher cost of sales. It takes time to establish a presence and it may be a year before you achieve any significant sales, so budget accordingly. Market study visits, trade shows, speaking at conferences, your professional advisers, venture capital companies, membership of interest groups, and trade associations are all useful sources of prospects as well as basic research. Many Irish companies have found prospecting in the US to be easier than in other markets, as US business people are generally more receptive to new ideas, products and services. US companies are prepared to listen in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not a product or service is of interest to them. Start prospecting from Ireland before you set up your US office. Talk to as many people as you can about your US operation and use these conversations to establish new contacts and to get advice on targeting your chosen market region. Selling Strategies The overriding question you face is whether to sell directly, indirectly or by using a mixed sales strategy. Although it requires more time and money, selling to larger clients and end users can prove very beneficial. A win can mean a big name client behind you that will help establish your credibility in the market. It may also provide referrals and make you more attractive to indirect sellers. In addition, you may want to address channel partners who typically sell into small to medium- sized companies. Sometimes the best strategy is to use a combination of direct and indirect channels. When you create a partnership, you must be clear about expectations on both sides. Indirect Selling 20
  21. 21.  Distributor – obtains your product and sells/licenses it to dealers or retailers who in turn deliver and license to end-users.  VAR (Value-Added Reseller) – can add value to your product by customising it, or by providing consultation.  Application Service Provider (ASP) – ASPs integrate technology into a solution provided to horizontal or vertical markets. This is a less used strategy today, after the dot-com implosion. Many companies now license required technology.  Manufacturer’s Representatives/Sales Agents – agents or small firms that act as a sales representative for your company, usually within your geographic region.  OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) – incorporate your company’s product or service into their own products. When recruiting a distributor or indirect seller, there are several areas that are important to address, including the following:  Does your product or service fill a gap in the seller’s portfolio?  Does the seller’s business and customer base relate to and fit your needs?  Is the seller an established player with a sales force?  Who are your competitors working with and with what channels? Can you offer more to the seller? If so, what? In the process of recruiting a seller, you will also need to strongly communicate the value of working with you. This could include highlighting the ability of the seller to offer a more complete offering to their customers, or to increase their revenue by offering integrated services. The more complex the product or service, the more important it is to be included in the sales cycle. A successful partnership is one where there is a team-based approach to selling your product and you are engaged in all processes with the client. This is an important element to have written into the agreement with the indirect seller. To the extent of the complexity of your offer, indirect selling may require the hiring of a partner or channel manager. Direct Selling  Hire an experienced sales team to sell directly to target companies without using channel partners.  This is the most expensive way to target a market segment, but it provides the greatest return.  Direct selling means that you will provide direct contact with the company – which may assure the purchaser that they will receive the best price and service. Combined Indirect and Direct Selling  A combination of both direct and indirect selling channels means that you may use partners in regions where you do not have any local support or in segments where your contacts are limited.  Approaching the marketplace directly and/or indirectly will be determined by the nature of your product or service and customer demands.  This combined approach is most suited to high value products and services where relying on an indirect strategy alone is unwise. 21
  22. 22. Regardless of the approaches you select, it is imperative that you stay close to business level when formulating the sales strategy. Bear in mind that your strategies will continually evolve over time to meet market demands and the changing environment. Some Selling Basics to Keep in Mind  Know your clients’ specific problems and focus on creating solutions.  Have selling pitches for each level within the organisation.  Know where the client is in the decision-making process, if, for example, they are evaluating alternatives. Provide them with enough compelling evidence to help them decide that you are the best choice.  Be mindful about discussing ROI (return on investment) with lower rank contacts. This is often best discussed with the financial team or senior executive decision makers.  Expect unanticipated situations, a delay in decision-making, for example, and provide information and support to reduce the risk for the client. A Guide to Presentations The following proven template will help you prepare a presentation for the US market:  Client Problems  Solutions and Results  Why Our Company?  Short Case Studies  Testimonials  About Us  Working with Us Client Problems What are the key problems your clients are experiencing? List the various problems in some detail in order of priority. Solutions and Results How do the products or services you provide address the problems listed? Again, list them one by one in detail and be specific in your discussion of these problems. Let them know exactly how your product or service addresses their issues and how they result in solutions that mean something to them. Why Our Company? Your prospective client has many choices in solving their problems. So let them know why your approach/solution/results/experience makes you the best choice. Do you guarantee results? Is it your industry specialisation? Let them know your unique competitive advantage. Short Case Studies Think through the many times you have provided similar solutions to past clients. Let the prospective client know the problem with which your client was faced, the 22
  23. 23. solution you provided and the results that ensued. These might be successfully conveyed within a paragraph or two. 23
  24. 24. Testimonials If you don’t already have testimonial letters from recent clients, then request them. Extract the best nuggets of information that address the key benefits your business offers. About Us Provide background material on your business. List anything relevant regarding your ability to provide solutions to your clients – including recent projects – anything that illustrates you being the qualified organisation for the job. Working with Us Finally, let your prospective client know exactly how you work. What is the process? When you do start work, what do you typically do first? What are the payment terms? Generally, the first meeting with a prospect affords you the opportunity to listen to them and understand their problems and issues. This then enables you to prepare a very targeted presentation for them. Effective Networking, Trade Fairs and Conferences The US is noted for the quality of the networking that is normally undertaken for successful companies and individuals. Below are some tips for emulating them. Networking  Developing a Strategy for Effective Networking  Find out what industry associations and business groups are in your region.  Learn what groups and events your competitors are attending.  Attend as many and as often as possible in the beginning.  Shortlist the groups that are most suitable and that meet your needs.  Make a consistent effort to attend network events several times a month. Networking extends beyond face-to-face meetings to sharing materials or sending something to leads. Some tactics include:  Invitations – send invites to presentations you give.  Leads – connect them with a potential lead for their company.  Event Calendar – share events that you may be hosting.  News Release – e-mail press releases.  Inside Information – share useful industry information.  Time-Sensitive Information - share information that could help in decision- making. Business in the US is all about networks. Your target industry sector will be made up of a select group of companies in certain regions, their senior executives and your competitors. Your success will depend on your ability to penetrate these networks, identify the key players and convince them of your key value proposition. 24
  25. 25. Once you have made some contacts in the market, it is wise to find the key networking groups and associations for your business. Find out from these attendees what networking groups they find effective. Some areas to start with are the local Chamber of Commerce and other industry forums such as the Silicon Valley acclaimed Churchill Club -, the New York Software Industries Association (NYSIA –, and the New York New Media Association (NYNMA -, amongst others. Over 150 Irish technology companies already have offices in the US and have built up a wealth of knowledge. Many of them are open to sharing their experience and some best practices. Spend time with some of these companies before your move. Enterprise Ireland is happy to provide you with introductions to these companies.  Cultural Differences and Networking In the US, networking is acceptable and expected. US professionals find it natural to make contacts whereas assumptions about networking often prohibit Irish business people from making the most of networking opportunities. Networking is not about using people. In the US, it is a strategy for developing relationships among those who may have access to leads, either directly or indirectly, about getting the most current information and advice from those that know best.  Some Networking Suggestions  Do some research on what you need to find out.  Be prepared to share information or leads that could potentially help others.  Prepare things to talk about in advance of social and business situations.  Have your elevator pitch well rehearsed.  Put your sales hat on and be ready to present the ROI on your product or service.  Have a list of questions or topics to discuss that are relevant to your sales environment. Cultural differences do influence communication but to be successful at networking, you don't have to change your personality. The intention is to project a confident, articulate and professional manner. If you prepare your elevator pitch and you know what’s important to your company, you should be able to better project confidence and professionalism in your own comfortable approach. Trade Fairs and Conferences Trade fairs and conferences offer a great opportunity to build a base of prospects and build your brand identity.  Preparation  Booking space requires a lead-time of six months to a year.  Be sure to get the exhibit floor layout and book the best space available that you can afford.  Plan before you leave the office and learn about the attendees.  Set up appointments with clients or prospects.  Identify seminar speakers and explore how you might co-present or piggyback on their presentation with, for example, case studies. 25
  26. 26.  Establish goals for: - The number of prospects you want to secure - Learning more about your customers - Competitors you want to learn more about - What’s new in your space?  Polish your 30-second elevator pitch, 5-minute lobby speech and 15-minute latte speech.  Organise a lead generation system, for example, the infrared beaming feature allows owners of Palm® handhelds to share business card information with another Palm handheld user.  Stay in the hosting hotel and attend the hospitality suite and after-hours parties.  Ensure that your exhibit materials are delivered on time and that you have made local arrangements for construction and dismantling. Be clear about your specific connectivity requirements. Trade shows can be a huge investment and choosing the right ones to attend and exhibit at is all- important. It is advisable to develop a strategy, identify the key shows that hold the most possibility and interest and allocate a budget for attendance and/or exhibition. The trade press for your sector will advertise the trade shows and conferences. You can also get advance notice on shows at  Working the Show  Set time aside to meet with customers.  Get to know your customers needs better and their “big picture”.  Assess what your competitors are doing and look for emerging trends in your segment.  Identify areas of opportunity that are not being served.  Ensure that you have experienced, professional staff to manage the booth and that they are quickly able to qualify leads.  To get leads and make sales, apply the four rules: - Establish rapport - Establish need - Establish interest - Establish next action (call, e-mail, appointment etc.). How to Retain Customers As always, retaining good customers is more profitable than having to find new ones. Here are some of the issues relevant to retaining customers in the US market:  Execute excellently - on time and within budget.  Be willing to measure performance against an outside benchmark or standard.  Deliver a satisfactory return on investment.  Establish regular communications using various channels – phone, meetings and e-mails.  Ensure that client expectations are met. If not, find out why and take corrective actions. 26
  27. 27.  Learn what you could do differently to fulfil and exceed expectations in the future.  How can you continue to improve your product and/or service and execution?  Find out if the needs of your client are changing.  Are there new opportunities to explore or changes you need to make? Delivering value to customers is made up of two aspects : Customer Value – service, product, personnel, image; and Customer Price – monetary cost, time cost, energy cost. Focusing on maximising delivery and performance in these key areas will demonstrate your value to clients. 27
  28. 28. Legal and Financial Issues  Introduction  Getting Started  Choosing a Legal Entity  Visas and Work Permits  Accountants  Banking in the US  Venture Capital and Financing Introduction The legal aspects for setting up your business vary from state to state. All necessary information is easily accessible online so the process can begin as soon as you decide to expand operations to the US. With the assistance of your attorney, you will need to choose a business entity and make the appropriate filings. In addition, an attorney or a visa agent can facilitate the process of getting visas for your management. Whether your company uses a firm in the US or your accountant in Ireland, you will need to seek advice on tax-related issues and other financial policies. Banking in the US can pose a challenge so some guidelines to overcome these are suggested. Finally, the US venture capital process and an overview of the current financing situation are presented. You are strongly advised to seek expert legal advice from a qualified source on the legal and financial aspects of starting a company in the US. Enterprise Ireland accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions. Getting Started Work with your legal and financial contacts in Ireland or ask for referrals before you begin. Most Irish companies moving to the US find this the most convenient and effective way to get started. Enterprise Ireland representatives in the US can also suggest professional services companies. However, they cannot vouch for their character or business credentials. Be sure to review and work with an attorney to meet the applicable and necessary requirements.  New York City and State  Greater Boston area and State of Massachusetts  Silicon Valley, San Francisco and the State of California To give an example of the legal process involved, the following is a step-by-step guide for the general regulatory process of setting up a business in the city and county of San Francisco. Other cities and states will differ so refer specifically to the city in which your operation will be based. 28
  29. 29. A General Checklist for City and County of San Francisco Local Requirements  Register – with the Treasurer and Tax Collector to receive a Business Tax Registration Certificate.  Register – your business name in the City Hall.  Zoning – before finalising your business location, check with the Zoning Centre to determine that the business is permissible in that area.  Licenses – check whether your type of business requires a city license or permit.  Permit – secure a building permit when applicable. California State Requirements  Seller's Permit – if you intend to sell or lease goods.  Licenses – check if your business requires a state license.  Workers' Compensation Insurance – secure a policy if you employ others.  Taxes – check on state requirements for taxes and insurance regarding employees. Federal Requirements  Contact the IRS for information and instructions. Choosing a Legal Entity There are three options for the legal status of your US office:  US Corporation  Limited Liability Company  Branch Office US Corporation A corporation is similar to a limited liability company in Ireland. It is an “artificial entity” which is owned by the shareholders. To establish a corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the local Secretary of State and pay an annual franchise tax. Legal fees cost at least $2,000 for a filing and incorporation. Many Irish companies recommend filing in Delaware because it is the cheapest state in the US to incorporate from a tax perspective but check with your advisers in relation to your specific business and your objectives as a company for the future. Limited Liability Company (LLC) This entity limits its members’ liability. To form an LLC in the US, one or more persons (not necessarily members of the LLC) must file Articles of Organisation with the Secretary of State. There is a nominal fee for filing articles. For tax purposes, an LLC may be treated as a partnership. However, its Operation Agreement must be carefully framed in order to achieve this. Branch Office This approach does not involve the formal creation of a US entity. It entails setting up a sub-office of your company in the US with close links to the parent company. A “waters’ edge agreement” is necessary to ensure that only profits earned on sales generated in the US are eligible for tax in the US. Explore the US corporate codes on this so that you comply with the requirements. 29
  30. 30. Each legal entity has different tax implications. Your accountant will advise you on the short and long-term tax implications of each entity. Engage the services of an attorney to advise on the legal entity, to actually set up the entity in the US and to deal with the administration and processing. Your attorney can also advise you on matters such as employment regulations, employment contracts, taxation and immigration issues. Visas and Work Permits The law relating to aliens working in the US has become even more rigid in recent years. Anyone employed in the US must be legally entitled to work and live there. You can avoid immigration procedures by employing a US national or a person with a valid Green Card. Initially, it may be easier to staff your US office with employees from Ireland. However, be aware that there are different kinds of visas that depend on the legal status of your organisation, as well as the persons for whom you are seeking a work permit. You can avail of visa agents in Ireland to advise and assist you with this. It is prudent to apply for visas as soon as you decide to set up business in the US. Types of Visas Non-Immigrant Visas There are over 60 types of non-immigrant visas for entry into the US. The B, H, L and E visa categories are the most common for international business personnel. A visa agent can provide you with the details of each and which is most suitable in your case. Immigrant/Green Card Visas These are the most easily obtained business-related immigrant/Green Card options available to managers and executives of companies with US operations, although processing can be slow and may take up to a year. The long processing times for Green Card applications mean that it is normally expedient to obtain a non-immigrant (temporary) visa first. Visa Waiver Programme If you have opened your office in the US but have not been incorporated and/or do not have the relevant visa, you can enter the US under the Visa Waiver programme. This entitles Irish citizens to stay in the US for a period of up to three months or 90 days, without the possibility of extension or change of status. Reference: Finally, bear in mind that visa and work permit processes and applications change from time to time. It is advisable to stay abreast of recent developments on US immigration because these changes may impact your organisation and personnel. Reference: 30
  31. 31. Accountants Accountants will be able to assist and advise you on:  Company Entity Matters.  Tax-Related Issues.  Company Financial Processing.  Investments.  Other Financial Issues, such as Transfer Pricing. Some Irish companies use their accounting firms in Ireland. Others seek these services from specialist firms in the US. Enterprise Ireland can help you find an accountant or accounting firm. Recently, the IRS is particularly interested in reviewing accounts of foreign corporations to ensure that they are declaring all profits. Many non-US companies have been under investigation by the IRS for incorrect accounting policies in US generated business. A portion of profits generated on products developed in the US and sold to clients outside the US may be eligible for tax. The IRS must be advised of this if this arises. In this regard, the establishment of an “arm’s length” agreement is important. Banking in the US One of the biggest obstacles Irish companies confront when starting up in the US is establishing a bank account. Irish companies have typically faced difficulties because they have no credit history in the US. It is good practice to contact each of the larger, well-known banks to find out their specific requirements so that you have the required paperwork prior to making the application. All of the major US banks offer online banking, allowing you to access your account from your PC anywhere in the world. As the process can be lengthy and cumbersome, be sure to plan well in advance of operations. To prepare you and give you a guideline for opening an account in the US, the following are some general requirements: General Account Opening Requirements  Notarised copies of official identification, such as a passport and driver’s license, for each authorised signer.  A letter on your company's letterhead requesting account opening and specifying authorised signatories.  A letter from your attorney stating there are no legal restrictions preventing you from opening an account.  Notarised corporate documents in the name of the account being opened (i.e. usually a copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association, and a Certification of Incorporation).  Mailing street address and other contact information in the US.  Completed bank applications.  The minimum deposit. 31
  32. 32. Some Major Banks:  California Bank of America Wells Fargo  Boston FleetBoston  New York Chase Citibank Venture Capital and Financing The process of acquiring venture capital funding can be broken down into the following six steps:  Initial Contact.  Presentation.  Due Diligence.  Negotiations.  Closing.  Possible Future Investment. Once prospective venture capitalists have indicated interest, it is recommended that you begin to devote considerable time to developing a business plan, if you haven’t already done so. Unless you are well connected, direct contact with venture capitalists is unlikely to achieve much success. Find parties such as Enterprise Ireland, US attorneys or bankers who can assist with introductions to attractive investors. Your Business Plan The business plan should cover the following areas:  Executive Summary.  Company Mission and Business Goals.  Market Needs and Opportunity.  Background on your Product/Service.  Operations Plan.  Management Team and Board of Directors.  Financial Plan. As well as a business plan, a good verbal presentation by key members of the management team will be needed. As you may only get one shot at this it is worth spending considerable time perfecting the presentation and its delivery. US companies take this stage very seriously and often get advice and coaching from professionals who are used to the requirements of venture capital companies. A strong focus on the market and its needs is usually better than too much time spent on the technology. Venture capital firms will check out the technology in detail later. The management team is viewed as the most important indicator of success of the company, regardless of how good the company or product is. The companies who succeed in securing venture capital have an experienced management team with a great track record. 32
  33. 33. Investments by Industry Sector Different industries and sectors are in favour at different times in the economic cycle. Knowing if your industry sector is one that is of major or minor interest to venture capital firms will enable you to fine tune your presentation and business plan effectively. For the most current information, visit PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Money Tree Survey at This site also shows what stages of company development are of greatest interest to venture capitalists. For example, in the late 1990s start-up companies attracted the greatest share of the market, while in the early 2000s expansion stage companies became more attractive as the bubble burst for start-ups. Interestingly, levels of investment can vary by location with Silicon Valley and the New England area being favoured during the economic downturn. 33
  34. 34. Operational Issues  Introduction  Where to Locate and Why  Finding a Suitable Office Space and Location  Adapting to US Standards  Telephone and Internet Access  Office Furniture, Equipment and Stationery Introduction Deciding on a geographic location to establish a business presence is a decision that requires thorough research and it may be a lengthy process. An overview of three attractive and primary areas to locate is given, to assist with your decision-making. Once the location has been decided upon, options for finding office space are explored. One option not to be overlooked is the full service provider. They handle the majority, if not all, of operational issues and can minimise your set-up time, therefore outweighing the additional expense. It is common practice for Americans to work remotely. As the Irish are less familiar with this mode of work, this needs to be taken into account so that effective and cohesive teams are created. The importance of establishing a central office location is therefore just one aspect of doing business in the US. Where to Locate and Why The most important factor in choosing where to set up operations falls back to that old reliable – location, location, location. Being close and accessible to your clients is crucial. We focus on three key regions that have been identified as offering the most opportunity for Irish companies setting up in the US:  Silicon Valley.  New York Metropolitan Area.  Boston / New England Area. An important factor in selecting a location is that you focus on the area with a long-term perspective. The process of selecting a location can be a big investment. Choosing the right location in the initial stages can help you avoid the cost of relocation in the future. Here are some factors that you may want to consider in making your location decision:  Proximity to Customers.  Location of Competitors.  Suitability of Location for Future Expansion.  Wage Scales in the Locality.  Proximity to Major Airports.  Cost of Real Estate.  Taxes. 34
  35. 35. Why Silicon Valley? Silicon Valley is a 35 by 10-mile strip of land south of San Francisco in Santa Clara County. For Irish companies targeting the high technology sectors, Silicon Valley is a strategic market location, with many leading US technology firms in the area. Some of its attributes include:  Its emergence as the high-tech epicentre of the world. Silicon Valley is home to more than 10% of the US’s largest and fastest growing technology companies, including HP, Xerox, Intel, Oracle, Yahoo, Canon, Cisco, 3 Com, Netscape, and Silicon Graphics.  Its closeness to technology developments and advancements helps ensure that your products remain leading edge and innovative.  California’s economy is the world’s fifth largest economy and is based on a broad spectrum of industries including software, telecommunications, aerospace, computer hardware, electronics, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.  An open and welcoming business culture enables you to expand your client base and increase exports.  The area is high in innovation, risk and entrepreneurial spirit.  A highly educated workforce is locally available.  Stanford and University of California Berkeley are located in the area.  One of the highest concentrations of venture capital firms in the US can be found here – the availability of venture capital funding and mentoring has enabled small companies to grow aggressively. For up to date information on investments in the region, check out Why New England – Greater Boston Area? Boston is a popular market entry point for Irish companies, with over 60 companies established in the region. The diversification of industry demonstrates the region’s innovative economy.  The Boston/New England economy consists of nine key industry clusters – financial services, post-secondary education, computers and communications hardware, diversified industrial support, defense (military), healthcare technology, innovation services, software and communication services, and textiles and apparel.  The Interstate Route 128 Technology Corridor in Boston has over 700 technology companies who are potential customers, partners and VARs.  The university powerhouses of Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) are located in Boston. These universities, along with the many other third level institutions in the area, have contributed substantially to the region’s innovative economy.  55 of the fastest growing US high- tech companies (second after California) are located in New England.  Multi-dimensional high technology industries, including software and hardware, telecommunications, instrumentation and biotechnology are established in Boston.  Over 2,700 companies in Massachusetts produce software and networking products and services.  The area has the highest per-capita federally funded R&D expenditures ($303) with the next closest being California at $146 per-capita.  The region has the highest concentration of colleges and universities – 68 in total, including Harvard and MIT, in the US. 35
  36. 36.  According to the National Venture Capital Association (2001), Massachusetts was ranked number one for venture funding, capturing US $1.35 billion.  New England’s location mid-point between Ireland and the western US, with a reasonable time overlap with Irish headquarters, has made it a favoured location. For up to date information on investment in the region, check out New York Metropolitan Area New York State is the world’s 10th largest economy and home to 65 Fortune 500 companies – the highest number in the US.  New York is a strategic market location for companies targeting the financial, publishing and information and media industries.  It is the financial capital of the world. The NYSE is the largest stock market in the world, the NASDAQ is second, and both are headquartered in New York. Together they hold a market share of almost US $13 trillion (as of Sept 2002), accounting for about half the total value of stocks worldwide.  New York is a national leader in technology with almost 400,000 employed in high-tech companies.  New York has a diverse economy with concentrations of employment in many industries, including financial services, information and media services, fashion, apparel and textiles, optics and imaging, information technology hardware and software, bio-sciences, industrial machinery and systems, transportation equipment and distribution services.  It is the largest city in the US with a population of over 8 million.  It is one of the three “world cities” (along with London and Tokyo) that control world finance.  Nearby Connecticut has a high-tech corridor.  Connecticut can offer cost-savings because it is a major suburban area and has thousands of commuters that commute to New York.  With direct access and an overlapping workday with Ireland, New York provides an excellent base for Irish companies entering the US market. For up to date information on investment in the region, check out: Finding a Suitable Office Space and Location The location you choose may not only need to meet your business needs, but also take into account your personal needs. For instance, frequent travel may be required back and forth to Ireland and the US east coast may be a more convenient location from which to travel. Office space options include:  Enterprise Ireland incubator space.  An executive office space provider.  Leasing your own office.  Virtual office. Here are some other issues to keep in mind while finding your space: 36
  37. 37.  What functions does the space need to provide? Some companies just want a US address, or a meeting place for clients, while some require more - a central office for sales, service and engineering operations.  Do you need an interim space that is capable of serving both your present and projected needs?  Talk to Enterprise Ireland about their business incubators, which provide not only office space, but can also offer supportive services. Enterprise Ireland Incubator Space Enterprise Ireland provides serviced offices (Incubator Offices) for client companies to lease on a short-term basis, while the company is establishing a market presence. The advantages of leasing an incubator space include:  Proximity to Enterprise Ireland’s offices where valuable hands-on support and advice is available to help you deal with the practical issues in setting up your new US office.  A low cost way for you to secure office space as competitive rents have been negotiated for the unit and can be passed on to you.  The flexibility of working short term from the centre (minimum of 6 months) while looking for a larger space.  The networking benefit of working amongst other Irish companies in a similar situation. This is particularly relevant to staff that have been relocated from Ireland and have few social and business contacts. Enterprise Ireland can offer additional cost-effective support services to companies availing of an incubator space, such as lead generation, promotion and advice relating to taxation, legal or regulatory issues. Incubator Offices are available in three US offices – in New York (6 offices), Silicon Valley (3 offices) and Boston (4 offices). The above points are also supported by an Enterprise Ireland client testimonial: “Going into the incubator unit allowed us to quickly establish ourselves in the US market, without having to deal with all the red tape. It also gave us a number of different location options and minimal upfront set-up costs.” Willy Connor, AEP Systems Executive Office Space Executive centres or business incubators offer complete turnkey working environments, with a full range of professional services, which offer the advantage of an easy start-up process in the US. They are designed specifically to help start-up firms. These centres, such as Regus, offer administrative support, telephone answering service, installed phone lines, conference rooms, office equipment (photocopiers, fax) and sometimes video-conferencing and visitor parking. They can provide flexible leases and meet your changing space requirements. Using an executive office space can be expensive. However, this expense can be offset by the convenience factor of having these services in place when you move in. 37