Fourteen percent of Flemish technology start-ups move to the United States. New York is pre-eminently a popular destination, says Sven de Vocht, director of services at Voka (Chamber of Commerce Antwerp-Waasland). “The start-up ecosystem in New York is growing fast, and the tech sector there is worth over 147 billion dollars. This puts the city in the top three of the best tech environments in the world. It is the perfect base for Flemish start-ups to conquer the American market and raise investment capital.” In order to help tech start and scale-ups move to the other side of the ocean, Voka is launching the ‘Voka [email protected] York’ in May, the organisation announced in a press release.

Practice, practice, practice

The Antwerp software developer Twikit is an example of a start-up that went to the US. Gijs Hoppenbrouwers and Martijn Joris, the founders, now have several customers there. “Americans do business in a very different way. In Belgium, a first sales meeting to explain a product takes at least an hour. In the US, you only get a few minutes at the most and you don’t talk about a product but about ‘value’. In the beginning, we practised our sales pitch ten times a day on acquaintances, colleagues, customers and coaches. With their feedback, we refined the words and arguments to arrive at a version that sticks around,” says 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- and scale-ups. Voka [email protected] New York wants to respond to this. Thus, a course has been mapped out in which themes such as selling in the US, getting a product ready for the market and pitching are discussed. “We combine this with individual sessions in which participants draw up a concrete action plan. Then comes the highlight: a five-day working visit to New York with workshops, a pitch evening for investors, one-on-one meetings with potential customers, investors and partners,” says De Vocht.

New York is the first hotspot, Munich and Tel Aviv will follow this autumn, and next year Paris and Amsterdam will follow. More info about the route can be found here.

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