The 'London to NYC' programme is a jam-packed five-day trip to New York. It's a phenomenal opportunity for UK-based entrepreneurs to check out the action in the Big Apple with a view to setting up a base.
Glasshouse's Founder and CEO Judith Clegg shepherded the gaggle of entrepreneurs around the city last year. She says, "The entrepreneurial scene in New York is very similar to London. Everyone is very welcoming to entrepreneurs and keen to raise the profile of tech eco-system over there. There is a lot of affinity for Brits in NY - the US start-ups are keen to meet our rising stars."
Evan Frank of OneFineStay, Joshua March of Conversocial and Peter Ward of WAYN all took part in last year's trip. Smarta caught up with the young entrepreneurs to find out what effect the London to NYC experience had on their businesses.
Evan Frank is a New York native, so in many ways the trip was a home-coming. But, arriving on the US scene as a representative from the UK still proved eye-opening. "I was looking for practical advice and contacts on how to set up a US operation - legal, office space - those kind of connections," he says.
"It was really interesting to see the differences between the service providers for start-ups in the US compared to the UK. There's a really high calibre of legal advice in NY, but my general comment is that it's not cheap. Also, developers benchmark themselves at a much higher rate than they do in London."
Conversocial CEO Joshua March was equally impressed by his 'London to NYC' experience: "We're looking to set up in New York pretty quickly. We wanted to lay the groundwork on the trip, understand how business is done over there and build up a network of entrepreneurs and potential partners. It was a super-charged week."
WAYN already has a satellite office in Dumbo, Manhatten. Co-founder Peter Ward had a slightly different objective to his companions. "I already had some relationship on the ground but it was good to re-establish contact. I also made some incredible new connections: I met the one of the co-founders of foursquare, also VC Fred S Wilson, who is a really high-calibre investor.
"It's more competitive in the US than in Europe," he reveals. "But if you can tap into the budgets then you're made."
March adds: "It was really interesting finding out how tax works over there. Each state has a different system. Things like that are challenging, but the whole trip really made me want to move to New York myself, rather than just hire someone to open an office for us over there.
"The talent available in the city is amazing, so we are going to be able to construct a fantastic team," he continues. "Also, we found out the NY Economic Development Agency would be happy to pay for office space to allow us to expand there much faster."
Here's what Mayor of London Boris Johnson had to say about 'London to NYC': "I am delighted to support this initiative and I know that the UK companies who land in New York will absolutely blow the socks off the business community in the Big Apple.
"As someone with close ties to that fantastic city, I know there is really no better place to do business in the US than my birthplace and it's great that this programme is going to help UK companies and talent to expand even faster. I also very much look forward to welcoming a similar delegation from New York to London in the future. Any programme that helps strengthen the relationship between these two great cities has my whole-hearted support."
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