Ever since I returned to California 5 ½ years ago, companies from abroad have been contacting me for help with the U.S. market. A very flattering and humbling experience – that so many entrepreneurs remember me when seeking help to start their businesses in the States.
To my surprise, the inquiries didn’t stop even during COVID, which motivated me to think about how modern methods could improve the chances of success of new market entries. If product-market fit has been found in one market, how might the fit with a new market be tested as quickly as possible? How to find out what works and what needs to change—fast? If we had a systematic method to test before the rollout, we could eliminate costly trial-and-error, lower the risk, eliminate basic mistakes, create the best bang for the buck, recruit the best people for the plan, and more.
The result is the “Launching Pad” methodology. It’s a systematic way to test and iterate to find the fit in a new market in five strategic areas: strategy, marketing, sales, product/technology, and back-office/legal setup. Five design sprints are combined with lead generation from Day 1, to directly speak with potential customers and users to validate their profile and pain points. Then, we test the solution and the way it’s delivered against a new market setting. In addition, we plan to offer a fundraising sprint to those companies who have gone through the program.
“Launching Pads” are delivered by a team of very experienced U.S. company builders. Each of us has successfully launched and grown several businesses in the U.S. This is an experience that foreign entrepreneurs often lack, leading to avoidable errors and time lost in figuring out how things work in the States.
Three companies have gone thru our program, and the results are very encouraging. It’s absolutely worth it to find and talk with actual customers and users, instead of imagining what they think or relying on the opinion of a few experts. Get it straight from the horse’s mouth. We organized 70 interview partners for our first customer, of which nine became prospects, and two turned into paying customers – the sales funnel and conversion ratios for the U.S. emerged during the program.
Direct contact with Americans interested in their products. Meeting with potential partners. The methodical creation and validation of a go-to-market plan in the most important areas. The support of an experienced team of U.S. business executives (well, yes, if you exclude me). Add them all up, and you’ve got a powerful mix that brings success.
We’re receiving very good feedback from entrepreneurs. And investors appreciate our methodical approach of testing before doing and validating before investing into offices, employees, and expenses.
For me personally, the creation of “Launching Pad” has been an exciting experience in pursuit of the question: Can Design Thinking be applied to areas other than the creation of products, for which it was originally meant? “Launching Pad” proves that yes, it can.
You can try out the method with the “Fit for USA”-Assessment on our website. It’s a tool we created as a self-assessment – how fit is your business for the USA? Let me know what you think, I look forward to your feedback and comments!
If you know of companies who are considering the USA, please let them know about this new way of methodically preparing before entering a new market to be faster and reduce the risk of failure.