Enterprise Ireland has teamed up with Daniel Glazer a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where Daniel leads the New York office’s technology transactions practice and also advises Irish and other European emerging technology companies on US expansion, fundraising and strategic partnership transactions. This series will offer perspectives on setting up a business in the US and considerations for Irish companies looking to raise VC investment from US investors
Post below written by Daniel Glazer, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Robert Mollen, Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson
What US VCs Require to Invest in Irish Companies
Daniel Glazer, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Robert Mollen, Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson
We are frequently asked by Irish companies what they need to do to attract US venture capital (VC) investment. This article discusses the general requirements of US VCs considering early-stage investment (Superseed/Series A or Series B) in Irish startups.
Proximity matters – how near are you to the VC?
Venture capitalists – especially in Silicon Valley – place a high value on proximity to their early-stage investments. The reason for this is that VCs bring to the table not just capital, but also their experience, advice and networks.
Consequently, we find most US VCs are reluctant to make early-stage investments in Irish companies without a founder (or at least a strong decision-making team) in reasonable proximity to the VC’s location. We have seen exceptions where the VC was willing to invest in a company on the condition that it uses the funds to establish US operations. However, in our experience this is usually where the company already has contracts with, and revenues from, significant US customers and business partners so that its further US business potential is clear.
It may be possible for an Irish company to raise early-stage funding from a US VC without a significant US presence if the US VC teams with an Irish or another non-US VC. In this scenario, the non-US VC leads a Superseed/Series A round (with participation from the US VC) for a company located near to the non-US VC. The US VC is then in prime position to lead the next investment round when the company sets up in the US. While we believe this kind of cross-border teaming will increase, at present it’s not particularly common.
Thus, Irish companies seeking US investment may be faced with pressure to establish US operations earlier than they might otherwise prefer. This can be done cost-effectively, but it’s still expensive relative to the operating budget of a typical early-stage company. There also typically needs to be a founder willing to relocate to the US, and the company will need to work out an approach to cross-border management. For Irish companies, this poses particular challenges if the most likely potential VC investors are on the West Coast – that is eight time zones distant, with potential flight times of 11 hours or more.
To be clear, as we’ve discussed in a previous article, setting up in the US does not necessarily require an Irish company to “flip” to become a subsidiary of a Delaware-incorporated holding company, and there are good reasons to resist doing so. However, it is advisable to form a US subsidiary corporation (probably in Delaware) to do business in the state or states where you want to establish your operations.
Comfort with local laws and tax
While many US VCs are prepared to make early-stage investments in Irish and UK holding companies, you are likely to find lower levels of comfort with companies based in many other European jurisdictions. That is not because there is anything inherently wrong with those countries’ laws, but rather because it may be expensive for the early-stage VC to gain sufficient understanding of the relevant corporate and tax laws. As you would expect, this is less true of larger early-stage VCs, who are more likely to have made prior investments across a wider set of jurisdictions.
Relevance of sector, competition and expertise
US VCs are also likely to be more interested in Irish companies in some sectors than in others. Some of this has to do with the reputation that some countries and their start-ups have already developed as leading in certain sectors. For example, European and Israeli companies in fintech or cybersecurity businesses have attracted specific interest from US investors, particularly where the companies have notable US customers and business partners.
As we’ll discuss in more detail in a subsequent article, it is important for you to identify which VCs are most likely to be interested in, and knowledgeable about, your business. You should also consider whether they are already investing in companies that are competitive with, or complementary to, your company’s business. More generally, you need to have a deep understanding of your global competitors. US VCs are only likely to invest in Irish companies if they are seen as having a true competitive advantage over investment opportunities in the same sector within the United States.
Daniel Glazer leads the US expansion team, and the NYC Tech Transactions practice, at Silicon Valley-based Wilson Sonsini. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Robert Mollen advises European companies on US matters at Fried Frank in London. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2016 Toy Fair New York, which is held annually, showcased some of the world’s most exciting up and coming toy products and is where some of the world’s biggest names such as Lego and Mattel exhibit. This year the show opened its doors to thousands of global play professionals to explore a record-breaking 415,000 Sq Ft of exhibit space which was filled with hundreds of thousands of toys, games and youth entertainment products. The show reported an attendance of 13,000 buyers from 100 different countries from across the globe to explore the exhibits of 1250 different exhibitors.
This year’s show saw a strong presence from some of Ireland’s newest and best toy and game companies. Five Irish companies travelled to exhibit at the show displaying a unique, innovative, and fun selection of products. The companies participating were Arckit, The Irish Fairy Door Company, The Lottie Doll (Arklu), TurboSpoke, and Yvolution.
The Irish Fairy Doors
According to Hannah Webb Vice President Consumer Goods & Retail Technology for Enterprise Ireland USA “the toy industry in the US is an exciting and growing market, it was fantastic to see such wonderful companies from Ireland exhibiting at this important industry show, meeting the right buyers, and successfully selling into the US market.”
The Lottie Doll
Ibis World reports that the retail market for toys has grown to $37.4 billion in revenue in the US and is expected to grow further to $40 billion in 2020. The sector is diverse in both product and retail channels, with toys and games sold through department stores, drug stores, online, and in specialty shop
This April, ten Irish companies will descend on New York City for INTERPHEX 2015. After a successful visit to the show in 2014, which is a Bio pharmaceutical/Pharmaceutical development and manufacturing trade show, there was substantial interest in a return visit this year.
These companies will be eager to promote their specialties in project management, manufacturing, construction, lean transformation and containment equipment to attendees at the show. To provide a better insight into the spectrum of Irish technologies we have profiled the companies below. If you would like to meet with any of them during the show or at our networking event on the 22nd of April, please contact;
email@example.com | +1 (617) 235-1605
Ardmac is an international company specialising in the construction of high value working environments for global brands. They specialize in constructing:
• Quality interior space to the fit out and refurbishment market;
• Cleanroom and controlled environments to research and manufacturing facilities complimented by a range of specialist products.
Bruce Shaw is an international construction consultancy firm with over 40 years’ experience, providing cost and project management and general consultancy services to the global construction industry.
With offices in 22 locations throughout Ireland, the UK, Europe, the GCC, USA, Asia and Australia they currently work for clients in 150 cities in over 40 countries around the world.
BSM USA Inc.
BSM is the global leader in the provision of Real Lean Transformation services to Life Science companies. BSM specializes in implementing Real Lean in QC Laboratories, QA-related processes and R&D departments’. Clients seek help from BSM when their businesses need step changes in performance on a scale which generic Lean/Sigma techniques cannot deliver. They specialise in the implementation of ‘Real Lean’ techniques, specifically Levelling, Flow and Standard Work. BSM is currently supporting global Lean programs in 4 of the world’s Top 6 pharmaceutical companies.
Specialists in calibration, commissioning, contract staffing, operations and maintenance & automation, LotusWorks is over 25 years supporting some of the world’s largest manufacturers in Ireland and the USA.
PM Group has a history in engineering, architecture and project management. They are in business for 40 years; today they are one of the world’s leading professional services companies serving major multi-national clients across the world.
Prosys Sampling Solutions
ProSys Sampling Systems Ltd specialises in the design and manufacture of sampling and containment equipment to meet the changing requirements of the pharmaceutical industry. Their products include both Containment and Aseptic Isolators.
The company’s philosophy is to contain the hazard at source, minimise cleaning, maximise flexibility and maintain an environment that is safe for all personnel. All their designs have been fully tested and qualified to contain potentially hazardous material to extremely low levels whilst still retaining the flexibility that is required in the production area. ProSys continuously innovates through developing our team of system specialists which ensures continuous learning.
Dortek is the leading supplier of hygienic GRP doors to the pharmaceutical, healthcare, food processing and laboratory sectors worldwide.
Team Horizon/ SCOPEFISH
Manufacturing Specialist delivering Engineering Solutions, Quality Management and Process Excellence to leading manufacturing organisations.
Kneat Solutions Booth: 1957
A key challenge for pharmaceutical manufacturers in going paperless is to achieve better quality. Kneat’s innovative software facilitates this by enabling a consistent, structured and transparent approach to Validation. Kneat delivers significant value innovation through enhanced compliance, reduced costs and audit readiness in real time.
Partswashing & Format Part Manufacturers
TEG provide responsive, cost effective solutions and have a successful track record of servicing leading pharmaceutical companies. TEG provide parts washing accessories, sterile-fill format parts and tablet blister tooling and tablet feeding systems.
Vice President of Sales
Lifes2good is a young, passionate, international company enjoying rapid and substantial growth in US, European and other international markets. With a proven formula of developing clinically proven innovative brands in niche categories, coupled with a focused, targeted and aggressive marketing strategy, the company has seen triple digit growth in the US market.
Our philosophy is to bring to market clinically proven health & beauty products that improve peoples’ lives. We’re passionate about improving consumer lifestyles with products that work, from head to toe, inside & out.
Our vision: A lifes2good product for everyone.
Our mission: To source, develop, test & globally market health and beauty products.
The purpose of this role is to manage, develop customer relationships to increase sales, for new and existing products, through all retail channels. This role will work closely with and mentor inside and outside retail sales team to meet goals. This role involves developing inside marketing plans and managing all aspects of P&L with customers. The role will also contribute and coordinate national marketing plans with marketing director to maximize retail sales while providing insights on additional retail and new product development opportunities.
VP of Sales roles and responsibilities;
Reporting to the CEO of the US office;
- Maximize profitable distribution of L2G products through all retail channels including FDM, Club, Wholesalers, Independents, Medical offices, Salons, Health Food Stores.
- Develop annual budgets and manage spend to budgets on a monthly basis.
- Mange forecasts and effectively communicate P&L results to corporate in a timely manner.
- Manage the P&L of each individual retail account to maintain and improve profit margins with special focus on managing FDM deductions.
- Manage and develop inside marketing programs such as TPR’s, Mailers, Register Rewards, rebates etc and identify other opportunities that will effectively drive retail sales.
- Work with marketing director to develop and execute marketing calendar and education events.
- Manage the logistics of distribution, invoicing, customer service and sales networks in the US.
- Work with HQ on NPD and introducing new products into the US market. Identify opportunities on line extensions and other product ideas for global or US distribution.
- Manage and mentor the retail team to execute goals.
- Manage and educate our external vendors and sales partners to maximize performance.
- Identify and develop relationships with other partners on sales, marketing and distribution.
- Communicate with L2G global on effective marketing activities, successes and sales strategies.
– At least one year in medical or Professional beauty industry
– 10+ years sales experience across multiple channels
– Experience managing accounts and building sales teams
– Effective presentation skills to a variety of audiences
– Reporting to CEO – based in Lifes2good head office in Chicago, IL.
– Ability to travel nationally on a regular basis
If interested please respond with a resume and short paragraph outlining the most relevant experience for the position to firstname.lastname@example.org.