CEO Stephen Minning with fellow Elevate 61 attendees

PAM Look Back – The Elevate 61 Tour

Day 1 – Monday 3rd

Networking with our fellow elevate 61 participants on a Venice beach rooftop was a great start to our US trip (even with the jetlag). Networking drinks were a great opportunity to reconnect with the other elevate participants on their achievements since the workshops. Propped up by the Advance commitment to build a strong Australian entrepreneurial ecosystem, the elevate tour is a step in the right direction for Australian businesses looking for international recognition.

Held by the Australian Consulate General, Ms Chelsey Martin, this was a spectacular chance  to meet with successful Australian entrepreneurs that have taken off in the US. After learning about the booming tech scene in Los Angeles from Erin Shipley of the Helm Fund, we were excited to see what the next week held.

Day 2 – Tuesday 4th

Learning about the language of venture capital investors and demonstrating how PAM can capture the market was the aim of the day. The key question to answer – “what do investors want to see?”

Los Angeles set the scene for us to pose and ponder this question, joined by experts like Nathan Gold, Demo Coach and, Sophie Lovejoy, CEO of Sophie Lovejoy. Teaching us that while there are a host of metrics worth paying attention to, there are 5 to live by.

  • CAC – Customer acquisition cost
  • LTV – Lifetime value
  • MRR/ARR – Monthly or annual recurring revenue
  • Average contract size
  • Sales conversion – can you prove you do it?

Day 3 -“LA – The big market” Wednesday 5th

Not just famous for film stars, glitz and glamour, LA holds 88 cities in the county area and with it a $664 billion economy with a booming trade centre. With a population of 10 million we were certainly starting to understand how LA can provide opportunities for Australian innovation.

Developing our understanding of how this can be achieved was Andy Tsao, Managing director of the Silicon Valley Bank who discussed trends in the valley. We had the chance to meet and greet some of the LA’s entrepreneurs and investors at the Advance Peninsular for KPMG run drinks.

Day 4 – “Change the world or go home” Thursday 6th

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, United States - Benni Talent

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, United States – Benni Talent

San Francisco, we were told, is the “Disneyland for entrepreneurs and investors alike.” To start the day, we took tips from successful entrepreneurs including Hootsuite’s Kirty Traill and Deepak Ramathan, Head of Global Product Marketing for Twitter.

In the city where entrepreneurship comes to play we had the opportunity to pitch PAM to John Scull, Managing Director of Southern Cross ventures. With 30 years’ experience – some marketing for apple, some starting his own businesses – we were confident we’d take away some great insights.

As he taught us there’s a few crucial steps to a good pitch in the valley.

  • Know your audience – research who you’re pitching to and know what they’re focused on and achieve.
  • Be personal – especially as Australian’s we’re known for being friendly. This is the chance to be confident, proud of our product and be real – not just sales people.
  • Show that you’re going to change the world. PAM was born out of wanting to change the design and wayfinding world for the better. As a first of its kind platform, we were pretty confident we had this in the bag.
  • Clarity in your business model – we need to know our company inside out before we try to pitch it to anyone else.
  • Network into introductions – you don’t jump straight to the VC, there’s a process and an art to making connections.

Starting that networking, we spent our early evening at a partner event with Advance and the Australian Chamber of commerce, led by Chris Oldfield, Australian Consulate General.

Day 5 – Pay it forward – Friday 7th

Networking is a careful art and with our final day in San Francisco came the chance to meet and connect with Australian founders in the valley. On day 5 we joined in discussions on presenting your business with Meredith Finn, Director of Salesforce Ventures.

After a morning of insights, we joined the “Aussie founder’s networking lunch” to borrow a few insights. Growing a business into the states – you need to meet Americans and bring on American staff with industry knowledge and the know-how to accelerate and support your growth. The networking lunch was the perfect opportunity to get a taste of this and test our newly perfected skills of networking. The biggest takeaways:

  • Plan ahead, know who you want to meet
  • Know what you’re asking for and what you bring in return
  • Be able to explain your business in 30 seconds – it might be lunch, but it’s still business

Day 6 – “The adaptable pitch” Monday 10th April

Los Angeles – entrepreneurs in a booming market

San Francisco – the capital for technology and change

New York – Hyphen tech: fashion-tech, food-tech, real-tech, fin-tech, you-name-it-tech

As we arrived in New York we had the pleasure of meeting with David Rose, founder, investor, NYC angel investor and a two-time New York Times bestseller. He gave us the rundown on NYC and the two dozen angel investor groups holding over 500 active angels within them. In 2014 over a billion dollars was deployed each quarter from NY investors – making it an understandable stop point on the US tour. The City of New York has taken huge steps to develop and enable an entrepreneurial ecosystem; the fledgling companies are all over the city.

Of course, in such a city you need to know the ins and outs of everything and the law was no exception. The afternoon wrapped up with an opportunity to be led in the law of setting up a business in the US by Charles McCormick of McCormick and O’Brien Law.

Day 7 – “We all get FOMO” – Tuesday 11th April

On our last day of events with the elevate program we had the opportunity to look back on the lessons and look into start-ups in NY. Our final day brought us Tania Yuki, Founder and CEO of Shareablee Learning, hosted discussion on building a NY start up as an Aussie.

Elevate 61 by day 7 had been a golden opportunity to learn about successes and failures, and through this program we were armed and inspired us for the future of PAM. Emboldened by the experience we won’t be victims of “FOMO” any time soon as we dip our toes into the American market. It’s a competitive market and we must always be alert or risk missing an opportunity. The best way to avoid this, as elevate taught us, is by resting on 5 key achievements

Be present – success in Australia is important but if the future of the business is in the USA, that’s where you need to be. The networks you find are the keys to sales and building up these relationships, even in the 21st century, relies on face to face interaction.
Be prepared – there’s nothing as valuable as planning ahead whether this is for your market, your pitch, or your business. Show your conscientiousness for the needs of your company and it’s investors by having plan for everything – big and small.
Develop partnerships – sales partners have access to relationships that you don’t. Joining yourself up with contacts is a two-way street that brings credibility, relationships and a chance to distribute to a wider audience.
Hire carefully – employees and employers are different and have different expectations when you go state side. Loyalty behaviours are different and investing in your staff, and the process you take to hire them, is essential. They are an investment worth protecting because they’re the foundation of your company.

Wrapping up our day in New York we joined a Special Reception with Joe Hockey, Australian Ambassador to the US.

Back in Australia…

At an event, again joined by Joe Hockey, we came together in June to see our Elevate 61 fellows and reflect on the highlights of the US tour. We were honoured to be a part of this incredible program and have been watching with keen interest the progress and achievements of all participants. Since attending Elevate 61 PAM has opened two new offices – Toronto and Austin, so we certainly think well on our way to being locals with an office to open in San Francisco in 2018.

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