Today is the kick off to the 2007 Gateway to the US Summit, hosted by the ANZA Technology Network at Plug and Play. The three day conference is the beginning of a three month program designed for Australian and New Zealand companies who are considering the possibility of doing business in the US market. I caught up with Viki Forrest, CEO of ANZA, last week for a short interview.
Q: What are the top three concerns Australian and New Zealand firms have when they try to enter the US market?
- The cost of doing business in the US (relative to Australia it is extremely high)
- Determining the best market entry strategy (there are so many options!)
- Identifying the best partners/channels to market (without a trusted personal network to rely on, this can be extremely daunting)
Q: What were some of the biggest surprises for the companies who visited Silicon Valley last year at the Anzatech Forum?
After a brief visit to Silicon Valley there is enormous excitement about the size of the opportunity and how BIG everyone’s thinking is in the Valley. After a couple of months of working with ANZA most CEOs realize (1st surprise) they will need 2-3 times more money than originally thought, (2nd surprise) their business plans/market entry strategy has been completely re-written and (3rd surprise) they are truly shocked by the cost (cash and options) of employees.
Q: What specific benefits does your organization offer as a part of their service?
Our programs are built around providing seasoned executives who mentor the companies. This delivers benefits at a very personal level to the executives participating in the program. At the end of the day they are far better prepared to do business in the US. Secondly, our mentors and our members provide personal introductions to their trusted networks of executives. The benefit here is that the executive is not starting from scratch in developing a network, this results in huge benefits in terms of speed to market: 80% (at least) of business in the US is conducted through personal/business relationships and networks. Arriving in the US from a foreign country-–without a network-–can be an insurmountable obstacle to doing business. There are exceptions but they are rare. Our programs have been designed to specifically address this obstacle by connecting CEOs in a trusted environment.
Q: How do you think your companies measure or assess the quality of the service you provide?
We track the performance of our clients on 3 dimensions: investments secured, US revenues, and US strategic alliances/relationships. These results form the basis of our program exit interviews with our clients.
Q: Wednesday is full of great business sessions, who within Silicon Valley would you like to attend these sessions?
Our business forums are designed for the Australian and New Zealand executives who generally have not done business in the US before. Any foreign executive new to the US would get a great deal out of attending, as would any young entrepreneur starting their first venture.
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