SCALEup DRILLdown: Expert Advice on how to Hack the US Market

scale up - us marketing expert advice

Three mind-blowing events in three mind-blowing cities: The first-ever SCALEup roadshow drove its marketing expertise through Amsterdam, London and Berlin last week to provide fast-growing companies with useful insights around launching and succeeding in the US market. Seven speakers shared the lessons they’ve learned through fruitful discussions with over 70 attendees.

We asked each speaker – all with first-hand experience successfully entering the US market – about their most important advice for companies who are about to conquer one of the world’s most valuable markets. Here’s what they said:

Evelyn Lopez Mendoza, Director of US Strategy, DCMN

The best advice I can give you is not simply to think locally but to think hyperlocally as you approach the US. The US is not just the US, it’s a mix of many different cultures, languages and perspectives and these factors will play a role in where and how you reach your target audience. In order to get it right and spend your marketing dollars efficiently, you want to find your consumers where they are. Testing with a hyperlocal approach will ensure you are able to learn the market and leverage it to allow you to scale effectively.

Bart Verhulst, Founder, PressPage

Just because you have a nice collection of triple-A-client logos in Europe does not automatically mean you have credibility in the US market. In B2B, your client list says a lot about your services, but your European list of names will most likely not make much of an impression. The US is a completely different beast with so many different brands and household names. You’ll really need American clients to become credible.

Experts on hacking the US market: Eveyln Lopez Mendoza, DCMN; Carlos Alvarado, Blinkist; Philipp Meixner, Crossatlantic Capital; Thomas Holl, Babbel (left to right)

Dr Philipp Meixner, Partner, Crosslantic Capital

From my perspective, if you plan to move to the US, the most important thing is to partner up with the right people. Ask yourself: Do I have the right team a) in my company and b) among my stakeholders to support that move? And be honest with the expectations you have. The market is huge, but you have to break it down to the market segment you actually want to address. Also be aware that it might be much more expensive than you think – so give yourself some headroom and find yourself an exit strategy if it doesn’t work out.

Thomas Holl, Co-Founder & CTO, Babbel

My advice: If you want to do it, you have to go all in. I don’t think there is a middle ground. If you plan to start dabbling around, trying to just dip your toes in, then it won’t work. Either all chips in, bet the farm on it – if you need the funding, that is – go in fullheartedly, otherwise don’t do it.

Carlos Alvarado, US Country Manager, Blinkist

It sounds like a cliché, but truly listen to your customer. They say that the customer is always right, which isn’t true – but the customer should always come first in everything that you do. What I’ve seen in the past working for startups, is that you get so much data, feedback and recommendations that you often don’t know how to prioritise.

The number one thing is to really strive to understand how customers are using your product and what they are saying with their feedback. Giving them access to the right tools to give you feedback is also important. It’s unbelievably frustrating as a customer if companies or apps don’t provide the possibility to give feedback. Every time you use Blinkist, we ask you to send us your thoughts in an email.

Genevieve Fish, Director of Brand, DAYE

Talk to people and get as many different reactions as possible, whether it’s friends or the barista in your favourite café. Get to know them. Find out where they work out, what their day is like, if they ride a bicycle. Try to understand the daily journey of the people you are targeting.

Alexis Cuddyre Creative Director, ADAY

I would say: Just go! Just go and get there and you’ll figure it out. I admire our founders because they instinctively knew we had to be in the States and just went for it. None of us could fathom how wild it was going to be, or what an incredibly emotional journey it would be for this really young team. Many of us were working for a startup for the first time and did not know what we were doing. But we decided to just give it a go and figure it out from there. There is a certain level of naïveté you have to have to just pick up and go without thinking about it too much or second-guess it – otherwise you’ll stop yourself.
Live from SCALEup Berlin, May 23, 2019

If you’re looking for a partner to help grow your business – in the States or elsewhere – reach out to us at We look forward to hearing from you.