Behind the Scenes on Entering the U.S. Market with Watertight – A Web Event

In this web event series, Kettering International’s CEO, John Crozier-Durham, meets with founders, entrepreneurs, and business owners to share gained insights and swap strategies on international market entry for Australian tech firms. Kettering International has championed organisations to internationalise in the United States since 2014, providing services in two core areas — business development and operations – both with a keen focus on evidence-based strategies.

Their most recent web event featured Andrew English, Co-founder of Watertight Inc. and producer of Gos 4 Media. English is fluent in advertising, video, and brand builds. Watertight’s mission is to empower creators to earn faster and better by leveraging a cutting-edge digital media kit. Australian-born English is heading the second phase of Watertight’s launch, based in NYC, to revolutionize how creatives and their sponsors easily find a way to work together.

Cultural Intelligence Makes the Difference in the U.S. Market

Market projection numbers all point to the immense potential of expansion into the U.S. tech market; however, many Australian-based companies are caught off guard by just how nuanced the terrain is in the United States. Andrew English speaks candidly as a creative and an entrepreneur who encountered the market entry learning curve of the American demographic firsthand.

Surprises with Entering the U.S. Market

Learning to land can take longer than anticipated, and be more nuanced. English, enticed by the tax breaks offered in Texas, banked on anchoring in Austin. Shortly after settling in, English realized those breaks would not balance out to the depth of opportunity offered in New York City.

Upon relocating to New York, English was surprised at the turnaround time for insurance paperwork and getting office space squared away. He also discovered that working from the Australian dollar before converting to USD made for a 40% mark-up on daily expenses. Morning coffees became more of an investment than a given. These alone can appear inconsequential, but when stacked end to end, they add up.

In short, English remarks that there was more of a difference in the business culture than anticipated. “It’s neither good nor bad,” English explains, “but it does take a curve to adapt and to access the market.”

Helpful Tip: Invest in understanding the impact cultural intelligence has on successfully landing and expanding in the U.S. market. Don’t rely on assumptions; get on-the-ground experience or work with a team that has extensive in-market support.

Localise & Prioritise 

“It is almost irrelevant what Australian brands you have previously worked with that are in the U.S. market. You are really starting from day one,” cautions John Crozier-Durham.

That brand new start was made easier for Watertight, which benefited from Kettering International’s thriving network. Warm leads garner close connection points that turn into tangible and intangible opportunities, such as gate-keeper connections.

“I was initially intimidated by the size of the U.S. market compared to the refined Australian market,” English shares. Watertight is looking for millions of users, yet in a diverse market, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to focus.

Spending time establishing the best way to articulate a pain point or meet a need is crucial in communicating effectively to localised market segments, gaining traction, and revamping messaging. “Don’t assume the messaging that is working in Melbourne will translate in New York,” says John Crozier-Durham.

Kettering aided Watertight in utilising cold call outreach. Both founders confide that although cold-calling is not always easy, it is effective. If cold outreach is responsive, Kettering knows that a unique pain point has been addressed. It is logistically imperative to follow through with well-crafted messaging and an active campaign.

Helpful Tip: When planning your international market expansion, consider these key questions: Who is going to amplify your brand directly or indirectly through their network, with a partnership mentality? How will you measure if your message has been localised and targeted at the right starting point?

Investigating the Sales Cycle

Kettering begins each new client partnership with an initial qualitative feedback and engagement hypothesis aimed at identifying a pain point that the customer segment will respond to.

“Warm outreach is great; however it can also mean people taking a meeting because of personal accommodation rather than feeling that a precise pain point has been addressed, which means they are operating from a very different place. Either way, you need to be a champion from both angles,” coaches Crozier-Durham.

Helpful Tip: Kettering’s SDR program engages local sales experts who “stand-in” for client companies to actively make cold calls and cold email outreach on the client’s behalf. This is a strategic approach: If someone is hired specifically for cold outreach, they will not push it off on their calendar. Plus, they have the muscle memory of sitting down and making the connections. The benefit? Getting validation on the pain point the market will respond to opens the door to tremendous leverage and acceleration.

Product Market Fit

English describes the unique challenge of seeking backing while still in the beta phase. You need to have a product that performs for investors, yet is pared down enough that you can pivot as you learn how to match it to the market.

For Watertight, raising money before the launch required a nuanced approach to proving market fit. VCs know they are taking a risk – even on the most compelling of ideas – so they want to see the numbers. A company’s projection of confidence and vision are crucial here, which plays into cultural intelligence and communication.

Often the Australian way is to be more subtle and humble in presentation, whereas U.S.culture for tech investors responds to more of an assurance of confidence in demeanor as well as product.

John Crozier-Durham highlights “turning on the lights to accomplishments in the U.S. cultural setting while maintaining authenticity and personal alignment” as crucial for Australian-based businesses to cross the threshold.

Warm intros are the most valuable ways to accelerate your product market outreach, yet cold outreach needs to be included to validate that you have adequately articulated the pain point. These assurances work together in converting connections into clients and turning VC meetings into funding opportunities.

Helpful Tip: Kettering asks its clients, are your performance numbers from a circle that already has bought into your value? Or are you pooling from outsiders? This differential will let you know if your product market fit is true to the market you are entering over the one that already understands your value and your messaging.

Where is Watertight Now?

Watertight is onto their second phase of launch, expanding their outreach and getting their digital resume into the hands of creatives. They look forward to continuing their expansion through proactive community establishment and growing outside of New York to make their million-user target.

Contact Kettering International Today

Are you curious about strategies like embedding video into your emails to better leverage your cold outreach in a new market? Or evaluative feedback on what your market differential is as you expand? Contact Kettering International for more information on assessing where your product messaging and international market rollout can be refined for success.