Are you a start-up in the Netherlands and ready to do business in the US with New York as your first stop? Make sure you first call Marjan Blumberg, Senior Economic Officer at the Dutch Consulate in New York. She can provide you with the right network, expert tips, and advice about doing business in New York.
Speed Up the Process
“The Netherlands is a great place for start-ups from New York to enter Europe and New York is a great place for start-ups from the Netherlands,” says the Dutch Consul General Rob de Vos in New York. “We have a great reputation and are known for our talented entrepreneurs. We should use these opportunities more intensively. At the Consulate we are always ready to help, cooperate and make those connections in market.” Once Dutch start-ups are ready to get their feet wet in New York, Marjan Blumberg is there to guide and consult them. Like a matchmaker she connects start-ups with people from her network. “Marjan will do anything to match you with the right people,” confirms Maurice Kroon co-founder of Dutch start-up Yippie. “She does this with passion and without any self-interest.”
To prepare Dutch start-ups that want to become active in New York, Marjan and her team organize bootcamps: a four-day introduction to the New York ecosystem. During these days the start-ups visit tech companies, meet with entrepreneurs, and participate in pitch events so they receive feedback and advice from the New York market. “In the four days of bootcamp, Dutch start-ups gain knowledge about the New York ecosystem that would normally take those three months,” Marjan explains. “We speed up the process.”
Long Term Relationship
The market in the US is huge and the business culture for start-ups is very competitive. Marjan informs Dutch start-ups about their competitors but also prepares them culturally: “Networking is very important here. Building a network in the US is a cultural thing and is quite different from building one in the Netherlands. You have to go out and meet people and follow up. Americans often reply with: ‘That’s a great idea’ but that’s the same thing as asking ‘How are you? Within 24 hours you need to follow up. When building your network try to find ways to give help in return: be prepared to invest in mutually beneficial relationships and be prepared to learn.”
A downside to doing business in New York is the bureaucratic legal and tax system. “I can guide start-ups and refer them to the right people who can advise them.” Getting funding is another hurdle to overcome as a foreign start-up. “It’s a misconception to think that it is easy to find funding in New York. Money doesn’t grow on trees here. You need to build a long-term relationship, this means that you need to come to New York every month and look at it as a long-term investment. I advise start-ups to grow first in the Netherlands before going straight to the US. You have to build a track record. If you are not successful at home how can you expect to be successful in the US?”
Growing Mentor Network
To assist Dutch start-ups in New York even more efficiently Marjan co-founded a mentor network in September last year in partnership with DutchBasecamp. The network started with fifteen successful Dutch entrepreneurs including founders from Shapeways, Karma and 3D Hubs, who guide and advise Dutch start-ups who want to become active in New York. “Karma’ s co-founder and CEO, Steven van Wel, held weekly Friday calls with the founders of the start-up Eviate, who want to expand their business to the US,” says Marjan. Stevens’s biggest piece of advice to start-ups is twofold: “Only raise money from investor that were introduced by your current investors/board; do not waste time following up with "cold" inbound emails. And raise two times the amount of money you initially think you need to survive 18 months of no income.”
This year the network includes forty mentors already including entrepreneurs like Chris de Visser, General Manager of North American operations at Sana. Chris explains why he became a mentor: “In our quest to setup a business in the USA, we made so many mistakes but also learned so much. We are happy to share those experiences so that the next company doesn’t make the same mistakes. Being part of the mentor network also inspires me in my work, it brings fresh insights and innovative ideas that might be beneficial for our own company.”The mentor network is growing fast and it is going global; within a year mentor networks were launched in cities such as Boston and London.
Join Meetups Every Night
Marjan advises start-ups to come to New York when they are able to survive during the first two years without additional funding. “Whatever your budget is in the Netherlands you’ll need a budget three times higher in New York. Costs of living, renting an office, legal advice, and hiring people are so high here! Once you are in New York make sure to join at least to three meetups every night. There are so many tech events, meetings and drinks. Websites like digital.nyc and garysguide.com give you a good idea of what is going on in New York. Bring enough business cards and go out there in the community and make new friends!”
Connect with Marjan via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/marjan-inbar-blumberg-421b841 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week (Nov 18) TNW Conference USA 2015 will take place in New York with 10 participating Dutch startups. For these startups the Dutch Consulate in New York will be hosting a one-day program prior to the conference with hands-on workshops lead by seasoned NY-based tech entrepreneurs and a special meetup in partnership with Northside Media Group.