Do’s and Don’ts
Differences between the Netherlands and Silicon Valley can prove to be challenging for Dutch businesses looking to operate here. Holland in the Valley asked Peter Laanen, Founder of Laanen the Brand in San Francisco, to share his best tips and tricks. From his 13+ years of experience doing business with Silicon Valley, Laanen has compiled a helpful list of Do’s and Don’ts.
Do Get to the Point
Within the time that you are allotted, you need to be able to tell your story convincingly. Always be prepared to pitch about your company to people you meet, and tell your conversation partner about what is in it for them. Don’t waste their valuable time by talking about irrelevant stuff. Getting to the point is essential.
Do Build a Network
Be upfront, and make sure to attend many events and meetings. Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley is a lifestyle. When you are not working on your product, you go to meetings and events to meet up with other entrepreneurs, investors, business partners, etc. A lot of business is generated through the people you know. So don’t be shy, and do approach people.
Do Get to Know Business Customs
Certain business customs that differ between the Netherlands and the United States are dress codes, punctuality and discrimination issues. Concerning dress codes, it is important to know what to wear to which event to impress potential business partners. Americans generally have a more relaxed attitude towards punctuality: make sure to confirm and reconfirm your meetings. Also Americans and American law are more sensitive about discrimination. So do not ask any personal questions during the interview, especially not regarding their religious views and age.
Don’t be Shy and Modest
Americans usually “brag” about their product and about how it will “change the world.” Therefore investors will discount everything you say by about 30%. So if you, as an honest Dutchman, speak modestly about your product, no one will be impressed.
Don’t Come Unprepared
It is best to come to Silicon Valley when you already have an established business in the Netherlands. Do not expect to start from scratch and conquer the Valley in a few weeks. You have to have the intention to stay in the Valley for an extended period of time. Potential business partners and investors want to see commitment and credibility.
Don’t Talk About Sensitive Subjects
Don’t talk about to potential business partners about any of the following: