Why Britain’s best start-ups love America

The United States offers British start-ups over 300 million sophisticated consumers, roughly 500 "active" venture capital firms, and the opportunity to be a charming British import.

From The Beatles to Benedict Cumberbatch, the US has had a cyclical burst of the best of Britain.
With more British start-ups eyeing the American business landscape, the US may need to prepare for another Brit Invasion.

The Brits Are Alright: a mutually beneficial relationship

The US is the UK’s top export destination and is ranked the fourth easiest country to do business with. As Britain’s most valuable trading partner, the US accounts for £4.4 billion of the total value of all exports in April 2016, according to the latest data released by HM Revenue & Customs.

Conversely, the UK also remains the largest single investor in the US, according to separate research from CBI released earlier this month. Having invested more than $449 billion in the US in 2014, the UK’s share of foreign direct investment in America tops 15 per cent.

While the world waits for China to overtake the US as the biggest economy in the world, HSBC’s The World in 2050 report predicts that this won’t be until 2050.

Coupled with the fact that the American market shares a lot of similarities with the UK, from the same working language to a similar approach to marketing, this makes the US prime for British business.
While many have tried and failed to crack China, the US seems open for business, and it is this appeal that draws Britons en masse.

The path to entering the US market isn’t all rosy, however. Sitting within the square mile of central London, it’s easy to forget just how large a market the US really is.

This can lead to some unique challenges, including the vast regional differences between the 50 states within the country, the strength of local competition, the high cost for business insurance, and the expensive and time consuming process for work visas.

For businesses interested in expanding westward, it’s also important to remember the time difference between American cities and the UK can vary between five and eight hours, which could make things difficult in the early stages.

In America, litigation is common, so that's another thing of which businesses need to be wary
In America, litigation is common, so that’s another thing of which businesses need to be wary

Give the People What They Want: local support

With this in mind, newly launched American firm Temprano Techvestors aims to step in as a “bring your tech business to America” company.

It aims to provide fully operational business and partnership resources for successful European B2B tech firms looking for a North American foothold.

Temprano Techvestors not only invests capital, but also builds every element of its partners’ go-to-market strategy, including its website, sales teams, and technical support and implementation resources.

Founder Luke Walling is a long-time serial entrepreneur, accomplished angel investor, and corporate executive known for building high-growth B2B software businesses, including his first endeavour, Walling Data, which he started on his own in his parents’ basement at age 15.

“The problem is simple,” said Walling. “It’s challenging for a company with great products and success elsewhere in the world to bring that same outcome to the United States and Canadian markets. To say we have skin in the game is an understatement, because we actually become our partners’ North American operations, operating on a margin basis primarily. If they don’t win, we don’t win.”

Temprano’s model is high-risk, yet it is placing its bets on great companies with a proven track record of success in Europe. The company does not accept outside investment today and works on an exclusive basis with every partner.

To be effective and efficient in its partnerships, Temprano limits the number of engagements and expects to work on an exclusive basis with up to five partnerships maximum during its first 18 to 24 months.


A Magical Mystery Tour: trade missions for networking

According to recent research from the London Mayor’s office, London & Partners, venture capital investment into UK’s hottest technology companies remains strong, with our homegrown tech start-ups attracting $1.3 billion in the first six months of 2016, matching the amount raised in the same period in 2015.

Despite fears around the Brexit vote, London based technology companies have continued to attract funding, raising over $500 million since the decision to leave the European Union just two short months ago.

In order to give British start-ups exposure to transatlantic business opportunities, London & Partners is taking 23 of London’s fastest growing technology businesses to the United States next month as part of an international trade mission.

“London’s is one of the most vibrant and diverse places in the world to start and grow a technology business,” according to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

“These high growth companies have the potential to become the next global tech giants and I am delighted that they will join me in showing the world that London is open to talent, business and collaborations”

The trade mission aims to highlight London’s strengths as a leading business destination for US companies looking to expand overseas. Over the ten years between 2005 and 2015, London & Partners has helped 572 US companies to set up in London, creating close to 16,000 jobs for the capital.

Led by Rajesh Agrawal, the Deputy Mayor for Business and chair of London & Partners, the companies will travel to Chicago and New York, as they look to secure extra investment and explore opportunities to expand and export to the US market.

All Together Now: Famous British examples

Newcastle based accounting software giant Sage went through an Americanised rebrand a few years ago, having entered the US market and holding its annual summit stateside for the past few years.

York’s own unicorn business management software firm Anaplan is firmly based in the US now after taking off globally.

London-based healthy snack food company Graze entered the US market in 2013, and has since rebranded for American consumers.


The Twain Shall Meet

The seven-day trade mission will offer some of London’s high-performing tech companies the chance to connect with senior-level tech executives, pitch to international investors and meet with potential clients and partners.

Leading high-growth businesses on the trade mission include clean technology company Pavegen, digital media provider for taxis, Eyetease and cybersecurity solutions company, Trading Hub.

They will also be joined by some of London’s technology ambassadors and mentors for the programme including Sarah Wood, CEO and co-founder Unruly and Kathryn Parsons, founder and CEO Decoded.

“From my experience helping Unruly to expand overseas, I have seen first-hand the fantastic opportunities for London tech companies looking to grow their business in the US market,” Unruly’s Sarah Wood said, in her capacity as the Mayor’s International Business Programme mentor.

“Like London, cities such as New York and Chicago have thriving technology hubs with all the right conditions for a high-growth technology business. It is important that we continue to support our domestic tech stars on the next stage of their growth journey.”

Companies joining the delegation include:

  1. Cloudbanter – Advertising
  2. Dressipi – FashionTech
  3. EnterpriseJungle – Data
  4. Eyetease – Transport
  5. FixFlo – Property
  6. Head Channel – Business Services
  7. Jambo – Leisure-Tourism
  8. Lost My Name – Retail
  9. Luxtripper – Leisure-Tourism
  10. Obelisk Support – Service
  11. Onfido Background Checks – Enterprise
  12. Pavegen – Energy
  13. PCA Predict – Financial-Services
  14. Rocketseed – Advertising
  15. SEaB Energy – Energy
  16. Screendragon – Advertising
  17. Shopitize – Retail
  18. Sky-Futures – Data
  19. Takumi International – Marketing
  20. Trading Hub – Cyber
  21. Translate Plus – Enterprise
  22. Verticly – Advertising
  23. Yoyo Wallet – Retail

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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