Many times I am asked to help a foreign (usually European) company to make it in the United States. But the pursuit of the American dream requires that sacrifices be made. Everyone wants to be a star like Elvis Presley, yet few have the real determination to do so.
So, why are US companies so different. The internet is releasing the fictional boundaries of technology, making its usage and its future development available to anyone. Universities in Europe are doing a much better job teaching technology, yet we don’t see a significant amount of European companies become successful. What is going on?
While I don’t have all the answers, I can offer a few personal observations of why the American way – and – the dream is alive and well:
1/ More entrepreneurs are bred by a capitalistic society than a socialistic society.
Entrepreneurs with a personal stake and drive for success boost investor deal flow and premium supply. A significantly larger investor pool yields higher valuations for premium supply.
2/ Solid early-stage business acumen.
While technology and programming skills can be acquired by virtually anyone, the European petri-dish, the ecosystem that supports the early-stage exchange of technology products and services is missing. As a result, people with the business skills needed to bring those early-stage products to market rapidly are virtually non-existent in Europe.
3/ Resilient attitude.
Young Americans (and ex-pats like me who never felt at “home”) are taught to make money and make themselves happy; young Europeans are taught to get a job at a reputable company and be happy. Taking risk and thinking different is a requirement of being a successful entrepreneur, in addition to withstanding a significant amount of adversity.
4/ More risk-taking buyers.
Customers, partners, and acquirers are more entrepreneurial too. Aggressive competitive cultures force buyers to be more entrepreneurial. Technology innovation is accepted as the instrument of differentiation in many US businesses, and customers will buy products that give them a competitive edge and better quality-of-service.
5/ Continuous focus.
Focus on success, short and long. Building a business that goes through several transformations to meet continuous market milestones is crucial to success, rather than a majestic formal plan with many dependencies that never materializes.
So, is there no hope for foreign technologists? Au contraire, I’ve seen some great technologies that, if unlocked, can find early traction and impressive valuations. It’s time to judge a technology not by the country it comes from but the content of its innovation. The American dream is waiting for you. Are you up for the ride?
[In remembrance of Martin Luther King]