Alistair Mitchell talks to Hot Topics about exporting Huddle and tackling new markets across the Atlantic.
Cracking America is not the same as it used to be.
When the Stones or the Beatles flew across the Atlantic, they were embraced willingly by every bit of the United States. They were greeted by sell-out crowds from Missouri to the Mississippi.
If only it was as easy to succeed across the pond these days.
The problem is, in the business world, America isn’t really one place. Just because you’ve established an office in New York, it doesn’t mean that San Francisco or the south will fall like dominos.
This is a lesson that Alistair Mitchell, president, co-founder and CMO of Huddle learnt the hard way.
He told Hot Topics’ Tom Lytton-Dickie: “America is a very big country. Both geographically, time zones, people revenue, money-wise.”
“You can think that you’re ‘Going into America’ but what you really mean is that you’re actually going to one state, or one region or New York. That’s like launching in the UK overall.”
Mitchell compares tackling new markets in America to taking on half of Europe’s major economies at once: “Launching in California is like launching in the UK and France and Germany combined, it’s the fifth biggest economy in the world, but you forget that, but you think ‘Oh we’re going to launch in America, we’re going to have four offices and we’re going to do everything.’ That’s literally like going after 15 of your biggest markets in one go.”
Before Huddle expanded it’s consumer base, which they figure to include 80 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies and the British central government, they had some teething problems exporting their business to the States.
It can often take more than one shot when tackling new markets.
“We tried it once the first time, didn’t get it right, figured that out and then went back in. But even now it’s taking a long time, and now we’re really starting to get some traction in each market. Take the government market, in DC that’s starting to go really well, we’re picked up some massive names, some big customers there.”
At the end of the day, America can’t be treated as one country. You’ve got to divide and conquer: “It’s like the Uber approach, they go into each city, you’ve got to do it like that: bit, by bit, by bit. Win each battle and each home ground.”
Tackling new markets in America isn’t quite the same as anywhere else.