Last Thursday saw the latest gathering of the region’s leading and upcoming tech businesses at the TechTalk dinner, hosted by BHP and Clarion Solicitors.
The topic for the evening was ‘internationalisation’ and, given it was 4th July, there was a particular focus on the US market.
Two guest speakers kicked off the evening, Tom Howard, CFO of digital marketing agency Stickyeyes and Fergus Bailie, Group CEO of the Baird Group. They both shared their stories which sparked an excellent discussion around the room about the challenges and pitfalls of internationalisation, but also the benefits and unexpected positive surprises they found.
Despite the common assumption that the US is ahead of the UK when it comes to tech, in reality this is often not the case. In fact, a number of guests reported how their UK-developed products were years ahead of the US competition.
Another surprising revelation was around customer service – again another area where we often assume the US leads the way. In fact, UK style customer support with staff getting closer to clients and finding innovative ways to address problems was often felt to provide a differentiator against competition.
Not surprisingly, logistical challenges featured highly on everyone’s lists; problems with visas, recruiting good staff, local tax, IP issues, and insurance, to name just a few. Then the difficulty of managing across time zones which often means very long days.
Over the course of the evening, some great advice on how to de-risk the internationalisation process was shared. Examples included: finding an anchor client around which to build early traction, how working with local expat communities can help navigate round problems, and recognising the fact that the US is not one big homogeneous market but in fact 50 markets all with their own peculiarities!
All in all, it was a great evening! A big thank you to all our guests for making it such a success and to our hosts at Sous le Nez who, as always, did us proud with fantastic food, wine and their attentive service.