Who doesn’t love a sequel? A quintet of emerging Dublin tech companies are working with New York-based mentors as part of the Newstalk Startup Executive Programme.
Five Irish companies targeting the US East Coast markets have three months to hone their marketing, business development, funding and sales skills with one-on-one help from a New York based, industry-leading ERA mentor. This programme is a collaboration between the Office of the Dublin Commissioner for Startups and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator in New York City, and is sponsored by Newstalk.
We’ve asked each of them to document their experiences over the coming weeks for Newstalk and Dublin Globe. In this second instalment, the companies trace their progress.
We’re gearing up for our first trip to New York at Legalshine. We’ve been growing quickly in Ireland/UK, but our sights have always been set on the US as our target market – and this will be our first experience. Breaking into a market is difficult when you don’t have an existing contact base to use, and the Newstalk Startup Executive Programme has been great at helping with introductions. Through Dublin Commissioner for Startups Niamh Bushnell, the ERA accelerator and our mentor Phil Crowley, we’ve crammed in three to four meetings per day for our first trip.
From a customer point of view, adapting our go-to-market to the New York market is challenging. On one hand, it is easier to explain what we do – the concept is more developed in the US, and better understood. On the other, because the market is more developed, we also face a more competitive environment. This has meant us changing our messaging and general market approach significantly.
It’s an exciting time for the company – we’ve got a solid footing with our initial customers and revenue, and now it’s time to grow. This programme has been a great catalyst for us, helping us get over those first difficult steps.”
It’s the biggest industry in the world, and Airlines are the stars of the show for the most part. Thing is, everybody that lands at an airport needs to leave it one way or another. Indigo focuses on the 60% that will need to pay for a taxi, train, limo or coach to complete their journey. Making this easy to book, or in any way easier to use, might seem like the world’s most obvious product. What’s not immediately obvious is that as a startup innovating in the travel industry, it’s not only the quality of the idea that counts — it does, as does a great team — but what really matters is how you navigate the market. You could say the key to innovation in travel is how you focus.
Working with Murat Ozsu on the ERA programme gave us a chance to take stock and apply this exact principle. We switched our focus from one lucrative segment, which was tough to address, to a new target market which lets us play to our strengths together — and it’s great to have Murat rolling up his sleeves to help out. We started our journey west to the US last year and this week, Tommaso, my cofounder (pictured) landed in New York to get our operations up and running. We’re collecting data from this new channel over the next few weeks and looking forward to what happens next. Onwards!
The Newstalk Startup Executive Programme has been great so far. John Williams – our programme mentor and co-founder/head of sales at Buzztable – has really helped us to understand what is required to enter the US market. John has been a great source of advice with regard to creating a US sales team and potential reseller partnerships. Local market knowledge and boots on the street are something that we feel will be crucial to Bizimply’s success, and he has helped us to start conversations with people who could really help us to achieve this.
We are putting together email marketing campaigns, print media, sales material and more, with a clear focus on striking a chord with potential US customers. While Bizimply already has some US customers, we feel that a deeper understanding of the market’s wants and needs are required before we start to actively target the US market. Being able to have access to someone of John’s calibre at this stage in our growth is a real asset. It’s an exciting time for us, and being part of this programme has really helped to focus the business on what we need to do to achieve our goals.
Using the Newstalk Startup Executive Programme as a launchpad, I’m now pushing the entire LogoGrab team to optimise our positioning for the US market. Right now, we are on track to open our NYC office in Q4 2015. Right after our success in the pitch competition, we got great advice from Jon Axelrod at our first mentoring session: a simple message works well with American prospects and clients. Be confident in your product and team and you’ll do well.
Joshua Lustgarten is our mentor for the Programme. He is impressively committed, giving us plenty of advice on crafting a message to go after marketers and media/marketing agencies Stateside. We have already had success closing some big deals in Europe: while clients there are very detail-orientated, Joshua has sold us on the importance of telling a story and selling the ‘big picture’ to get attention in the US.
With Joshua’s support, we’ve optimised our reach-out material: intro emails, one-sheet presentation, introductory deck and introductory call. As a next step, we’ll further improve our pitch and explore relationships with our new US clients. The goal is to start evaluation processes and pilots by the end of July.
The first few weeks have been great and pretty intensive with our mentor, Beth Temple. We started by defining our goals for the 12 weeks and what we want to achieve. We realized early on that we do not have the marketing budget to tackle the US head-on in terms of paid advertising, and so we have been looking at other possibilities like partnerships with ecommerce and design companies Stateside, as well as starting relationships with some up-and-coming fashion bloggers for a bit of guerrilla marketing. We’ve already been in touch with some great ecommerce stores, through Beth, and on our own. These will be great for increasing awareness of the Love & Robots brand in the US, and for overall sales. We’ve also been discussing with Beth the possibility of launching a popup store in NYC.
So far, the Newstalk Startup Executive Programme has helped us lay a base for marketing in the US. We’re on the way to getting onto some great US-based ecommerce stores, getting featured by some funky bloggers, and we’ve looked into actually getting in on the ground. Looking forward to the next six weeks!
TO BE CONTINUED…