He joined me via Skype from Huddle’s new base in San Francisco.
Huddle started in London, and Ali took the business across the pond, so I was really interested in his perspective on that process – not just as a startup founder, but as a human being. I think you’ll appreciate how open he was about the good and bad of the experience!
Ali’s now taking a step back from Huddle and doing some really interesting investment work – that comes up at the end.
We talked about:
• The beginnings of Huddle;
• A timeline of Huddle’s US move;
• Ali’s advice on timing and strategy when penetrating a new market;
• Why Huddle’s first attempt to crack the US failed;
• How to work across two time zones at the same time;
• The effect of the move on Ali’s home life;
• Why you need $5 million to grow a US operation;
• And Ali’s new investment project that’s bridging the gap between Europe and the US.
Waving goodbye for America:
We felt that this is where the big partnerships and growth was going to happen, from a market point of view, and frankly, at that time, if you remember back in those days, the UK scene wasn’t nearly as developed as it is now.
On tackling the American market:
A very regional market… more regional than homogeneous. …Think about it is like one large market, but where you have to sell regionally…City by city by city by city. That’s how you break America.
What Huddle learnt from their mistakes:
If you’re going to go into the US, you need to do it one of two ways: you either go very early, or you go much later. And we did the classic mistake of going in that middle ground…(but) we did it right the second time because our biggest customers walked us in.
Why you can get an 8x increase in traction in America compared to Europe:
I’ll explain why: on average, US valuations are twice as high as European valuations, US unicorns can raise 2x the amount of money and typically rise it twice as fast. Because they’re more aggressive, the risk profile is different (resulting in) a compounding effect, 2 times 2 times 2, about 8x difference.