Fourteen percent of Flemish technology start-ups settle in the United States. New York is a particularly popular destination, says Sven de Vocht, director of services at Voka (Antwerp-Waasland Chamber of Commerce). “The start-up ecosystem in New York is growing rapidly and the tech sector is worth more than $147 billion. This puts the city in the top three of the best technological environments in the world. It is the ideal base for Flemish start-ups to conquer the American market and raise investment capital. To help tech startups and scale-ups move across the ocean, Voka is launching the ‘Voka [email protected] York’ in May, the organization announced in a press release.
Practice, practice, practice
Antwerp-based software developer Twikit is an example of a start-up that went to the United States. Gijs Hoppenbrouwers and Martijn Joris, the founders, now have several clients there. “Americans do business very differently. In Belgium, a first sales meeting to explain a product takes at least an hour. In the United States, you only have a few minutes at most and you are not talking about a product but about “value”. In the beginning, we practiced our sales pitch ten times a day on acquaintances, colleagues, clients, and coaches. With their feedback, we refined the words and the arguments to arrive at a version that remains,” explains Joris.
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Five-day field trip to New York
Research shows that access to the international market, capital and talent are the three biggest obstacles for start-ups and scale-ups. Voka [email protected] New York wants to answer that. Thus, a course has been mapped out in which topics such as selling in the United States, preparing a product for the market and pitching are discussed. “We combine this with one-on-one sessions where participants develop a concrete action plan. Then comes the highlight: a five-day working visit to New York with workshops, an evening pitch for investors, one-on-one meetings with potential clients, investors and partners,” says De Vocht.
New York is the first hotspot, Munich and Tel Aviv will follow this fall, and next year Paris and Amsterdam will follow. More information on the route can be found here.