When considering a move to the United States, Indian startup founders first need to make a mental pivot to face the market they want to sell into and ask themselves how much risk they are willing to own.
In the SaaS space, there are (broadly) two types of companies you can build. The first option is to create a better product than what is currently available on the market — like better accounting software or a CRM, or a better marketing automation tool, especially for the mid-market companies. This path is well-worn — Indian companies Zoho and Freshworks are leading examples.
The first mistake Indian entrepreneurs make when coming to America is to assume that a large market and a customer base open to novel products means your first step should be buying a plane ticket.
The second — and riskier — option is to build something in an entirely new category, which is what we’re doing at Talview, where we’re building a video AI platform for digitized talent processes for companies making hiring decisions. Creating a new market is a high-risk scenario lined with pitfalls disguised as opportunities, but the rewards are potentially immense.
The first type of company never has to leave India. You can start your company there, hire local talent and begin selling your high-quality remote services to midmarket businesses across the globe. The second option works best if you’re willing to target more advanced SaaS software markets in the U.S.
No game plan, just a product
The U.S. is the largest software market and where customers are more likely to try something new. However, the first mistake Indian entrepreneurs make when coming to America is to assume that a large market and a customer base open to novel products means your first step should be buying a plane ticket.
First: Which city will you choose? When entering a new market, founders are also the salesperson, so you need to be prepared to meet customers or investors and get that early traction before you decide to move your operations to the U.S. full time.