By: Pekka Juujärvi, COO
The last month has been a learning experience for me, because my business partner and I have been in U.S. to start our NOOA business there. We participated in a startup program called LandInChicago and as a part of that program we went to Chicago to explore the market and opportunities for NOOA. The program still continues, but already now we can be satisfied with the results and learnings.
The experience from this trip is very positive. One of the best things is that people like to see you succeed in your business and offer their help and support, and that’s no theater. We, as Finns, should learn to live with that. And instead of doubt, we should be ready to act fast, when somebody offers you help. If you act like we Finns normally act, people may feel that you do not need or want any help and they let you work on your own.
To get connected is everything. Networking with the decision makers by “cold calls” results to “forget about it” in U.S. Sometimes it is hard even in Finland to reach people, but in U.S. you are wasting your time if you try to connect with new people only through e-mails, phone calls and LinkedIn. You must find other ways for networking. One way that seems to work well is business meetups, which is a popular way to create new contacts. We have meetups in Finland too, but they seem to work more effectively in U.S. The point is that you need to know somebody, who can introduce you to the person you like to meet or be where your contact is. So, you need a good plan on how to get connected with right people.
Starting a new business in U.S. is hard work, but the atmosphere for new innovations is right. If you have a good story behind your innovation about why you are there and how your idea is different from what already exist, you have a good chance to get traction for your business. It is all about the story and how you tell your story and link it to the business. You must be proud of what you are doing and show it in a humble way. Technical issues come after that. Not the other way around, as we here in Finland are used to thinking. We faced this same issue. Our background is not technical, but at the beginning we got the comment from locals that “talk more about the story, why you created software like this and how you did it”.
The market in U.S. in huge and competition is tough. Only with a good story and a very good plan for connecting and activity you can get a deal fast. When you meet a decision maker and he/she says yes, they expect you to react. If you do not, they will forget about you or tell you to come back, when you are ready to do business. You can also ask people if they are a decision maker and if not, who is. If you are looking for decisions, you should not waste time of those people, who cannot make them. It is pretty much straight forward.
During this one-month time in U.S. we met around 200 leaders. Some were decision makers and others not. We participated in meetups, collected new contacts and went from one meeting to another. We got very good and straight feedback about NOOA and our approach. Soon we learned that our story was to abstract and product-oriented. It was too difficult to understand, what are the benefits of NOOA. So, we sharpened the message, tested it again and collected more feedback. As a result from our four-week trip to Chicago and San Francisco, we have now two customers in U.S. Both want to get started as soon as possible and are big companies.
Based on our experience from the meetings, it looks that the organizations in U.S. have the same problems as in Finland. They have a need for more transparency in the organization, need for more agility in change and need for more people-friendly leadership culture to gain better customer experience, just to mention some of the problems. With NOOA we have a great match in U.S.
If you like follow up our journey in U.S., we will continue to publish blogs here in our website.