How does a foreign company get help launching a product in the United States?

Soody Tronson

Soody Tronson

by Soody Tronson, Founder of Soody Tronson Law Group

QUESTION: I am based in Australia & have a business that I am passionate about. I want to find a VC that has experience in taking a product & selling it succesfully via infomercials throughout the U.S.  It is difficult to find anyone in Australia that has this experience & not sure as to where to start looking in the U.S.?  Your help is greatly appreciated!  Glen Pattison

ANSWER: Ahh … Given that mentioned Australia … Have you checked the The Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development? They have a local office in San Francisco. The DIIRD is the Victorian Government’s lead agency for economic and regional development. Government’s goals for more quality jobs and thriving, innovative industries across Victoria will be fostered through DIIRD’s five priority objectives: Investment Attraction, Trade Development, Developing Innovative Industries, Regional Development and Marketing Victoria.

Victor Perton, a very knowledgable and nice gentleman, is the Commissioner for Victoria in SF (but hard to reach sometimes as he travels a lot).

I have international clients (e.g., from Germany) who, as Naomi, mentioned, have established a US presence to draw investors, among other reasons.

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo, editor of Founders Space

Let me start by saying it’s unlikely a VC will invest in a company that launches a product through infomercials. That’s not to say it’s impossible, just a long shot.

Instead of pursuing VCs for this venture, which I feel would be a waste of time and money, I would look for partners. I have a couple ideas for you, and perhaps, our members will have more.

First, you should contact US Market Access. They are fantastic at helping foreign companies launch in the United States.

http://www.usmarketaccess.com

The person to contact is Alfredo Coppola, Director, Business Development at US Market Access, phone 408-351-3309.

The other person I would contact in Australia is Hamish Hawthorn. He runs ATP Innovations, an Australian incubator, and he is actively helping Australian companies like yours launch their products in the United States.

http://www.atp-innovations.com.au/
Hamish Hawthorn h.hawthorn [at] atp-innovations [dot] com.au

When you contact Hamish and Alfredo, just mention that Founders Space recommended you, and they will be happy to help.

Comments & Advice:
  1. Alfredo says:

    Thanks for the referral Naomi.
    Glen, Naomi is right. Silicon Valley VCs would not invest in such companies, and further, they don't invest in companies outside of the U.S. You need to build a presence here first before you can approach investors in Silicon Valley.
    Our Center has numerous resources for you to get started, such as local contacts aligned to help you with your specific needs. Feel free to contact me directly to learn more.
    Alfredo Coppola alfredo@usmarketaccess.com

  2. Great comment!

    Hoff

  3. Hamish says:

    Glen – I tend to agree with Naomi and Alfredo. There are a bunch of challenges when entering the US market – sure, it’s a big, attractive market, but it is also full of competition and it can gobble up resources very quickly. There are a couple of important questions to satisfy yourself before you embark on this journey

    1. Have you validated the potential of the US market for your product or service adequately? Is there a real market opportunity?
    2. Are you ready to jump into the US? As the others have stressed, VC will want to invest directly into a US entity and will expect the key executives to be located close by (so they can cruise past on Friday night and check that the lights are on in the office).
    3. Is the opportunity big enough to get the attention of VC investors? If the company doesn’t have the potential to be a “home run” then you may struggle to get their interest.

    The good news is that there are plenty of people who can help you answer these questions – give Alfredo a call at the US Market Access Centre and I’d be happy to help out as well (h.hawthorn [at] atp-innovations [dot] com.au). Good luck!

    Hamish

  4. Mike Ryan says:

    Hi Glen,

    I appreciate your question about where do you begin. I agree with Naomi and others about infomercials in the US are a “red flag” to many investors and may not be your best approach. This strategy “might” work but not the best use of your time, efforts and money at this stage of your company’s growth in my opinion. In general , venture capital firms tend to invest in companies within 300 miles of where they are located (we did have a San Francisco VC invest in a biotech client in New Zealand but that tends to be an exception).

    The others people provide some very useful resources which you should pursue. I am not sure what your product is, but it sounds like a “consumer” product given your interest in infomercial and using a mass media to sell your product. I serve on the board of directors an Australia Saas startup in corporate health & wellness space which has been successful in the US marketplace in obtaining clients & capital as a point of reference. They were successful in gaining “technical grants” (six figures) in total over a few years. You may want to research your local government grants that assist companies in expanding especially in other countries in the generating sales which helps grow the company back home.

    Also, like the CEO of the Saas company previously mentioned he researched experts in healthcare/technology market as a strategy to enter the US. Depending on your product/service/solutions do your homework and contact experts here on Founder Space and/or other resources sites. Ask those experts to serve on your board or advisory board as a way to leverage their experience, expertise and networks to assist your company in gaining clients, capital and connections as you grow.

    Good luck!

    Mike

  5. glen says:

    Thank you for your views & advice much appreciated!

  6. Geoff says:

    Dear Glen,

    We are a US-based marketing and distribution company specializing in bringing foreign consumer products to the United States. We are well networked in various distribution channels within the US, and have extensive digital and social advertising experience. Please visit our website at http://www.borderlessbranding.com for more information and to learn more. Hopefully we can help you achieve your goals!

    Best,
    Geoff

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