Navigating the U.S. Market: A Roadmap for Singaporean Startups

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Venturing into the US market can be a daunting yet rewarding journey for startups from Singapore. In this article we seek insights from WEVE’s mentors: 

Scott Smedresman, Partner & Co-Chair of U.S. Technology Group at Brown Rudnick, Lior Klisman, Chief Operating Officer at Sentant; Mriganka Pattnaik, Co-Founder and CEO at Merkle Science; and Osnat Benari, Fractional CPO at DragonsCanFly. Our experts shed light on obstacles, offered strategies, and provided guidance on how to thrive in the US market. Let’s delve in!

Understanding the Basic Challenges

One of the main issues for Singaporean startups in the US market is managing time zones. As you venture into the US, being on the opposite side of the globe, it becomes essential to synchronize with a team familiar with Asian time zones. Equally important in the expansion journey is hiring the right talent. Though the US boasts a diverse and experienced talent pool, identifying and securing the ideal team members plays a pivotal role in successful scaling.

Legal Perspective from Scott Smedresman

Navigating the legal landscape is an essential part of the process. Scott Smedresman shared that individually the legal challenges are not too difficult, the U.S. legal system is simpler and easier to navigate than other systems. In fact, laws are often friendlier to businesses and entrepreneurs. It is the volume of legal requirements that can be overwhelming.

One of the hurdles of the legal system is the US immigration law. However, there are ways to navigate the immigration system step by step. For example, If you have a successful business, you might be eligible for a new office (L visa). If you have achieved significant market success in your home country, you may be eligible for an O visa.

Another common challenge is securing customers in the US. Enterprise sales, from a legal standpoint, can span not just months but years. That’s why Scott advises Singaporean startups to be strategic about their target audience and realistic about the potential time frame. All of these hurdles can be effectively managed with a robust business plan, the right mentors, and a strong network like that offered by the WEVE community.

Market Strategy 

Companies that are successful in their market find it hard to go back to the basics. These basics include meeting with new customers to gain insights and feedback, fitting their product to the specific needs of the US market, examining the competition, understanding how the target audience communicates and what appeals to them, and then using all this knowledge to make the necessary improvements. This process might even require revisiting things they’ve already confirmed and profited from in their home market. In theory, many people are aware of these steps, but in reality, putting them into action can be challenging. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts here.

Cultural and Market Differences

The US market is a fast-paced market, and often entrepreneurs underestimate that, but the US is also 50  states with different regulations, policies and industries. According to Lior Klisman, understanding the country is not enough. Cities differ within the US, and understanding where you are going to move is vital. 

Another important differentiator noted by Mriganka Pattnaik, a co-founder of the Singapore-based company, is the fact that culturally, people tend to be shy in Asia about their goals and vision, while in contrast, it helps if you are vocal about your ambitions in the US. This advice goes beyond leveraging networking opportunities, it’s also about effectively advocating for yourself and your own interests.

The Power of Networking and Relationship Building

Introduction, networking, and warm connections are incredibly valuable. Building trust by attending events, community meetups, trade shows, and networking dinners is essential in the US market.

One of Osnat’s key recommendations is to consistently seek introductions. Always remember after a meeting to ask for another introduction. You’d be amazed how many people are ready to share their contacts. It’s just how things work in the US – a simple and genuine way to build trust and expand your business.

Singaporean Startups Program

Ultimately, navigating the U.S. market doesn’t have to be an overwhelming challenge. A successful US go-to-market might bring opportunities and growth. By understanding the market dynamics, building the right connections, and learning from experts like Scott Smedresman, Mriganka Pattnaik, Osnat Benari, and Lior Klisman, Singaporean startups can break into the US market.

When targeting a new market, specific advice, hands-on mentorship, and warm introductions are essential for Singaporean startups. The GIA Acceleration Program is designed for this purpose. This comprehensive program provides valuable insights, strategies, and assistance tailored to the unique needs of Singaporean startups looking to expand to the U.S. Apply now to leverage this incredible opportunity at a subsidized cost

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