This week we greeted several founders and entrepreneurs from the London community to join us for an expert panel talk on US Expansion.
The panel was made of four industry experts in law, finance and tax, immigration, and experiential and commercial expertise. We were lucky enough to be joined by: Daniel Glazer of WSGR, Elizabeth Jamae of Jamae Law Group, Pete Smith of Songkick & Silicon Milkroundabout and ihorizon‘s CEO Pratik Sampat.
Moderated by ihorizon’s Associate Director Tom Watts, the panel went through the key infrastructures a company needs to have in place for expanding overseas. Topics covered: tax, funding, visas, legal, banking and government support.
In terms of the logistics and costs to consider with US expansion, Daniel Glazer explained that firms should always work on a fixed fee basis for the initial set up and should include incorporation. He also highlighted the importance of appropriating state registrations and amending US focused T&Cs as US companies do prefer not to engage under UK law.
When discussing the difference between the US and UK VC investors, it does not just come down to risk appetite but the mental attitude. The UK may be too reserved and understated in their approach to presentation, which may not appeal to a US investor. Be confident and extroverted with your pitch.
From a commercial standpoint, Pete Smith gave his advice based on his experiences of expanding Songkick and Silicon Milkroundabout into the US. He detailed the importance of strength of team, capitalisation, robustness of the core business and the timescale of moving.
The points he drilled home were the importance of the core team and being on top of your cash management. The experience will put your finances to the test and realistically you, a co-founder or a core team member you trust will have to spend the majority of their time in the US in order to effectively pull the expansion off.
Elizabeth lent her expertise on the topic of US visas of which there is a lot more to than meets the eye. With the visa and immigration process, there are many details, so planning forward and laying the land right can make all the difference in the actual application process.
From a tax perspective, Pratik explained the implications of creating a tax nexus in the US. He stressed that you should be wary of becoming a tax resident of the US as there are lots of implications for UK founders having to file US tax returns, explaining what a startup could do legitimately and not be caught in the US tax net.
Of course, these points are a very small taster of the discussions had during the course of the evening, which went into great and informative detail.
“A truly brilliant event with a some of the brightest minds offering passionate, practical advice to help ambitious startups to grow. If only every event was as valuable” – Adam Levene, Founder @ Hero.cx
“Super useful information from a very high quality panel. Informal, no bullshit and no ego. Probably one of the best tech events I’ve been to in a while!” – Alistair Sheperd, Founder @ Saberr
“My key takeaway was the point made by nearly everyone that you have to have such confidence in the strength of your domestic UK business if you are to give the US the time and attention it needs to succeed.
We will be looking to hold another US expansion with this panel again in the near future. In the mean time, sign up to our mailing list to keep up to date with our latest events.
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