Guest post by Eyal Bino, Founder CEO of the World Wide Investor Network.
If you are a founder of an innovative technology startup from outside the US, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The geographic distance, the difference in the business culture, the contacts (or lack of them), the cost, the time zone and so many other issues make it extremely hard for the international entrepreneur to raise funds from US-based investors and to expand to the US market and globally.
You can have the coolest mobile app, a fun gaming platform or a unique cloud-based solution, most times it seems like securing funding in the US for international startups is an impossible mission.
Well, securing funding is a tough mission anywhere in the world today, including the US where most VC funds are more conservative than before, and angel investors are more sophisticated than ever.
Here is the good news. Don’t be discouraged. Raising funds OUTSIDE of your home country is a very tough task, but IS possible. Below are a few important tips to help entrepreneurs from around the world get funded by US investors:
1. Get Traction – For the most part, it’s very hard for international startups to raise funds for development money to be used in their home countries. There is not just the trust element and the high risk, but also the different legal systems in each country which makes it almost impossible for US investors to invest. The solution is simple (yet hard): get as much traction in your home country as possible, prove your model, obtain customer feedback, and then approach them. It will make it a lot easier to have a meaningful conversation.
2. Be Open for Adaptation – What works in one market, doesn’t necessarily mean it would work the same way in the US. While the world is small, people, users and businesses are different then where you originally developed your product. Pay attention to initial customer/user feedback in the US. It could make a huge difference.
3. Secure a Local Anchor Investor – At the end of the day, investors are looking to minimize their risk and work with people they know and like. Plain and simple. Securing a known local investor, whether a VC or angel, could make a huge difference for a non-US based startup. There are the guys who don’t just put the money but could also open the doors where it matters, so the additional value could be potentially huge.
4. Check out the Accelerators – This is a global trend. A stamp of approval for entrepreneurs. Accelerators are everywhere, whether you like it or not. Today many of the accelerators have a global approach. For example, Startup Sauna brings top graduates of his accelerators to Silicon Valley for a week of meetings with VCs and local investors, and the UK ignite100 offers 100,000 pounds in a convertible loan for companies who are looking to grow their companies beyond the 3-month program. It’s getting more sophisticated and beneficial for entrepreneurs to go through these unique programs.
5. Do the Rounds -Is your country sending a technology mission to the US? Jump on it (and on the plane). This is a great way to get exposure for your startup and network with investors in a short period of time.
6. VC’s are not the only ones – No they are not. Getting funded by a VC could be a great option for startups. However, it could take a while until they say yes. So why not explore other options? There are some very sophisticated family offices who are making great investments. The same for private equity firms and some investment banks. They could all be a target for you so why limit yourself?
Most importantly, don’t give up. Network, learn, revise, adjust. If you do all that and more, you putting yourself in a position to succeed. And that’s the goal of everyone in this business, especially your investors!
Founder, Worldwide Investor Network (WIN)
p.s. Ready to pitch to the top NY-based investors? Apply on our site today!