Welcome to "Crossing the Atlantic" exploring challenges and stories specifically for European technology companies expanding to the US

Crossing the Atlantic

Welcome to "Crossing the Atlantic" exploring challenges and stories specifically for European technology companies expanding to the US

Any European enterprise tech company, with the ambition to be a category leader, must conquer the US. Download your PDF copy of Crossing the Atlantic using the link on the left.

We are delighted to share the second edition of Notion Insights, our series of industry reports taking a comprehensive look at some of the most critical challenges facing early stage European enterprise technology companies.

Most technology executives know the seminal work of “Crossing the Chasm”. Well, what about “Crossing the Atlantic”? This is a journey every bit as important to any European enterprise technology business. Forget selling across Europe, country by country, focus on building a global business from the outset, building a strong domestic business and culture and the leapfrogging Europe to the US (and Asia, but more on that another time). That’s where the real prize is.

I have personal experience of this subject when I moved to the US to lead MessageLabs expansion into this all important market. It was a tremendous experience and steep learning curve for me and the team. We made our share of mistakes as we learnt to compete in the US but ultimately it became our largest market and a big factor in our successful sale to Symantec in 2008.  but ultimately a valuable one as the US became largest market.

In preparation for this project we interviewed many founders from the Notion family, each of whom have has successfully launched and continues to scale their business in the US market - making mistakes and learning valuable lessons along the way.

We also grilled US VCs - David Skok of Matrix Ventures and Ryan Floyd of Storm Ventures - and experts in a range of areas including immigration, HR, law, tax, culture and building high-performing teams for their specialist knowledge, best practice and insights.

Whilst each story we heard was different, it became clear that there was also much in common. We have drawn on these common themes to develop what we believe are the 10 most important steps a founder needs to take if they are to successfully launch in, scale in and dominate the US market and get it right first time.

The Ten Steps

  • Get the business right at home then leapfrog the rest of Europe
  • Build a beachhead of customers in the US before moving people and resources across the pond
  • Get good professional advice - tax, immigration and legal
  • Sort out the basics of good practice - banking, transfer pricing, IP assignment, etc.
  • Lay the groundwork to build a team - employee benefits, payroll, HR etc.
  • Choose a location based on timezones, customers and talent, but prioritise talent over all else
  • Founders migrate - founders lead the charge, with a strong co-founder leading the home business
  • Empathize with your new buyers - differences in buying behaviour and expectations
  • Focus on the behaviours and values that build a strong culture across your home market and the US
  • Build a no-compromise team - hire the best you can and surround yourself with ever better talent.

Here at Notion we are on a mission to help nurture a thriving ecosystem that builds, connects and recycles knowledge, ideas and skills for our portfolio and the wider community and we would therefore like thank each of the founders that have been so candid and forthcoming in sharing their experiences for others to learn from. Likewise, a huge thanks goes out to each of our partners - Harvey Nash, TriNet, Winning By Design, D’Alessio Law Partners and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati - for helping us in bringing this report to life.

Over the coming weeks we will be sharing more of the insights on this blog, meantime you can connect with us here

Jos White

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