When you're a non US startup and you come to the US for a business trip there are few things that you need to prepare in order to optimize this trip. Money spent on a business trip (because don't get me wrong here, you WILL spend a lot of money!) can be definitely be worth it if you organize yourself.
Identify your expectations
Whether you come to raise money, to meet with partners, to implant your startup, or anything else, you have to define in advance your objectives, prioritize them and identify what you want from them.
Here are few things you can expect from an international business trip:
- Create your American subsidiary to raise money
- Meet with VCs to raise money
- Meet with the Eco-system (mentors, press, etc.) to understand the market
- Meet with your partners to strengthen them
- Meet with local CEOs to network
- Meet with your local users to get feedback
- Meet with other US startups to understand the culture
- Attend events to network
Going on an international trip is quite a challenge and if you go for one week, keep in mind that it is a very short period. So try to book almost 80% of your meetings beforehand, squeezing lots into your tight agenda, and save free time for the unexpected ones.
Keep also in mind that people want to meet with you! So feel free to contact them by sending emails or a simple tweets.
General advices for your trip
To fit your expectations, here's a quick list of things to plan before going on an international trip with your startup:
- Book your meeting a week before (not too soon, otherwise people tend to forget they had an appointment with you).
- Prepare your deck before your trip (you might not have time or enough wifi once in the country!)
- Focus on the people you want to see (you won't have time to meet everyone).
- Organise your data (cafés will become your second office, so make sure you have plenty of data on your phone).
- Listen to all the advice you'll receive but don't follow it all.
- Be planning your next trip already.
- Don't eat too much Mexican food (it won't help you sleep and fight the jet lag).
- Go as a team (at least 2 people), so if an unexpected meeting turns up you can split up the team.
- Book an Airbnb accommodation way in advance (especially if you come to SF as many huge events occurred in the city and you might not find cheap rooms).
- Be prepared to drink a lot of coffee (remember cafés will become you're second office).
My last advice: Enjoy!
Moving your brand/company in an other country is quite a challenge but it's a fascinating one. In fact it's your product but on a whole new market. And now that you know the mistakes you made on your own local market you're just a better self and you're ready to go kick some ass on your new market!