Update: EU/US A-Round Project Update
Back from a kamikaze visit to the States (my first in two years, badly overdue), I’m looking forward to reporting on what seems to be a world of Covid collateral damage (next week). This week I want to report on six months of work aimed at making the most of what is an unprecedented moment in (USA-led) venture.
Last spring, I wrote about the possibility of building a pipeline of A-round ready companies from the EU to the USA, how we’d reached out to tech hubs, state governments, and investors to help us in this endeavour. We identified six companies (all eager to scale in the USA – and ready for VC-led A-rounds) and proposed that they would constitute a proof-of-concept for us and for the USA partners with whom we’re working..
Where we are and what we’ve learned as we head into Thanksgiving 2021:
- We had hoped to have companies on the ground by now. In this regard, we’ve not made progress. Good intentions (as well as commitments to have three in the States by summer and one of our medtech companies selecting a locale this fall) were trumped by travel restrictions and a variety of other Covid headaches (supply snafus, in particular).
- Interest and good faith abound. Currently, our medtech companies are consulting with experts and investors in the US Midwest and Southwest. People are genuinely interested and happy to help. Part is the market’s need for good, below-the-radar companies. Part is the quality of the Irish companies in our proof-of-concept (translation: great teams, good preparation and support in Ireland, the capital-efficient nature of the EU startup ecosystem). Another part is a new generation of young, US-based VCs full of energy and diversity to match our companies. And finally we must mention the strength of the Irish network in the US. A number of people – Steve Fetters, Steven Gould, Nancy Harvey, and Gale Wilkinson in Chicago, IL; Mary McEvoy in New York; and Kelly Spillane in Austin, TX – have gone out of their way to be helpful. This interest and ongoing support have helped us to add an additional two companies who could be making the jump in the coming year.
- Covid is a bitch. Last summer, three companies agreed to set up shop in the 2120 tech hub on Chicago’s Northwest side. Covid thought better of the situation; then Scott Fetters, the hub director, stepped in. He continues to work with the companies, having connected two of the companies with advisors and potential customers (and one with investors). These companies are currently in the States remotely, with the goal of arriving in person in 2021. The third company is still on track to have staff on the ground at 2120 in the next three months.
- Virtual is good, in person is better. Our companies are making inroads in the USA, but Zoom calls have their limits. I sent one company’s deck to a VC whose reply say it all:
‘If this team is a Delaware c-corp, would love to talk with them.’
It’s not only the team being on the ground, and the VC-friendly corporate structure in place, it’s important for us to be there on a regular basis ‘working’ the network, staying in touch, taking advantage of plans and serendipity.
- Self-evaluation and next steps. Like any startup, reaching our goals (identifying our audiences, focusing on where we add the most value, instituting a process in order to scale) is taking longer than anticipated. That said, the interest shown by all parties on both sides of the Atlantic has been gratifying. If you ask the entrepreneurs, the support and the engagement have been positive, and we’ve learned that each company is going to have its own path to scaling. We’re still in the middle of the journey, looking to expand the network and begin to raise funds for Irish (ultimately EU) companies with the ambition and vision to scale.
In other words, stay tuned. Or contact me with questions, suggestions, support
Educator (Associate Professor) / Entrepreneur / Leader of angel
communities /Entrepreneur in residence at PorterShed
and BioExcel / Rarosenberg@gmail.com