Fear of the New

There are long lines of students outside the US Embassy in Dublin these days, waiting for their J1 visa interviews and the chance to spend the summer working in the States. 20, 30, 40 people at a time in the queue. They’re eager, impatient, and maybe a little sleepy headed.

American politics may be hard to decipher at times but accessing the American market - huge, open and hungry for innovation - is an obvious goal for ambitious young Irish tech companies, the majority of whom already recognize it as their primary target.

It surprises me how frequently our young startups quote US market stats in support of their business models but when asked how often they travel there, they say they're not ready yet, travel is too expensive, or both.

Fear of the new may be another reason for their reluctance to go west, but without that experience in your back pocket you can't really learn about potential competitors, develop messaging that resonates with your US customer base or build relationships with the investors you want on board when your hard work translates into a quickly scaling business.

And what about product/market fit? Delaying that until the product is fully developed here in Ireland can be a recipe for failure in the idiosyncratic US - a slow and expensive failure.

You're ambitious, but you're broke? Been there. You’re building a team and need to stay home with them? We get it. But nothing trumps what must be your first order of business, and that's customers.

If the US is your market, it doesn't matter what tech you're selling, you've got to experience the market early and often to win in it.

So get your visa, jump on a plane and dive feet first into those competitive, dynamic and often welcoming waters.

Your fellow Irish men and women from New York to LA are pretty welcoming too by the way, so if you need a place to rest your head, take out your brass neck and just ask them.

Niamh Bushnell

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