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SelectUSA 2024 Preparation with Frances Simowitz, WEVE Acceleration

January 30, 2024

Podcast Recording Transcript (2024-01-25 13:39 GMT-5)


Bill Kenney, Frances Simowitz, meeting notes


This editable transcript was computer-generated and might contain errors.

Bill Kenney: Hi, this is Bill Kenney from MEET. We’re here with the next episode of Belly2Belly. Today, our topic is SelectUSA preparation. SelectUSA is coming up just in a few months, It’s June 23rd through 26th in National Harbor, which is just outside of Washington DC. Today. We’re joined by our great friend Frances Simowitz from WEVE Acceleration. Good afternoon, Frances. How are you?

Frances Simowitz: Good, how are you? I’m excited about our topic today.

Bill Kenney: I am it’s wonderful to see you, We’re both really excited about SelectUSA and all the opportunities that creates for international companies. The goal of our conversation today, Frances, is really to help companies get a sense of the opportunities at SelectUSA. Ideally, getting them connected so that they can make pre-connection and have pre-conversations with key resources like yourself. We’ve seen this kind of preparation really payoff for companies who are serious about US expansion. You and your team provide such a great service for companies coming into the US. To get started, would you give us an overview of what WEVE Acceleration does and how you help International companies coming into the US?

Frances Simowitz: Yeah, happy to. WEVE Acceleration has been around now for almost eight years headquartered and New York. We originated from a French brand that was one of the early accelerators in the space since 2001 and they opened up their New York activities specifically to help International companies expand the US because they saw that a lot of times their portfolio from all over the world when they got to a certain stage in size would want to come to the US. To many startups from around the world, the US is a very attractive large market. We developed a 10-week Soft Landing program to support these companies through education. You don’t know in the US how to do things how to sell how to connect with people. We also introduce them most importantly to a network of potential mentors and experts that can advise them on their journey. We often do a lot of personal activities as well to really integrate companies into the United States.

Frances Simowitz: Our program is open to any company from around the world. We also do a lot of government collaborations directly. We work with governments like Singapore, Japan, Uruguay, Canada, Australia, and all over the world to support companies from their countries with US expansion. So it’s our bread and butter.

Bill Kenney: One of the really cool things, I love about your program, Frances, and maybe you could talk a little bit about your focus on sales versus most accelerators that are primarily forced on investment. I think that people are used to that are very investment-focused. You’re I would say much more Revenue generation sales focused which

Frances Simowitz: Yeah.

Bill Kenney: it’s kind of the best form of fundraising right? Besides the customer endorsement by spending their money the idea that you’re actually proving that there is traction in the US and there is a reason to be here. So if you want to talk for a moment, yeah.

Frances Simowitz: I think a lot of times when we talk to companies internationally, one of the things that is very attractive about the US market is the investment landscape. There’s a High valuation you’re bringing in bigger check sizes. But there’s always a chicken and egg with that and especially if you’re coming and successful from another Market US investors also want to see that the solution makes sense here and so having some proof of traction of potential Product Market Fit in the United States is really key to then being able to leader attract US investment. So most of the companies that we work with investment might be a secondary priority, we of course introduce them to investors, but first, it’s like how do we get the proof of traction so that you are sustainable here you can think about hiring here and then actually attract the right investment from the right investors later down the line, so it’s always sales first, traction first, and investment after

Bill Kenney: Yeah, you’re reminding me of the saying, “The only place where investment comes before sales is in the dictionary.”

Frances Simowitz: I haven’t heard that one. That’s a good one.

Bill Kenney: Please please steal it. it’s on loan. So let’s get maybe on to SelectUSA for a few minutes. Why is it that it’s important for you to participate? what is it about the event that you find really compelling?

Frances Simowitz: Yeah, it’s a really fantastic event, especially for what we do on a few different fronts. As I mentioned, we are targeting governments directly because that way startups don’t have to give up any equity or any cash to participate in our programs and the resources we provide. So, we’ll connect with the foreign governments there as well as US governments because we don’t just run programs in New York City, we run programs and other states and localities around the United States. So that’s one but then we also get to connect with a lot of really great startup companies. There are also large delegations of fantastic tech companies that are thinking about the United States for our programs and the types of people we want to support. It’s a great way for us to meet great tech companies too. So really for us on all sides, it’s everyone that we want to be meeting with in one place at one time.


Bill Kenney: Yeah, it’s a 10-ring circus. 

Frances Simowitz: Yeah.

Bill Kenney: it’s massive and you have so many different stakeholders there for sure. It’s so efficient for companies to come in and make those connections all in three days. So the last question I have for you is around, things that companies can do to get the most out of the experience. Thinking of some companies that have been to the US probably several times and maybe even been to SelectUSA before. For other companies, not only will this be their first time at SelectUSA, but it’ll be their first time to the US and so maybe taking it into chunks here. Are there suggestions you have we’re getting the most out of the event and then, sort of companion to that what suggestions in terms of their us visit anything that you would suggest and in both of those?

Frances Simowitz: Yeah, so I think conferences in general are a great way to be able to maximize a trip to a specific country and location. But one of the things about the United States is that it’s also massive. So, if you think about coming from Europe every different country almost like in the United States a different state. So we always also advise companies that you should be soft Landing specifically where your customers are and if you are for example a health tech company Boston or Baltimore might be better locations for you if you are selling into energy or oil and gas you might be needing to go to Texas if you’re doing something with them semiconductors Phoenix is building a big hub for those types of solutions there. So really do your research ahead of time for your business. What is the right ecosystem?

Frances Simowitz: And who are your right clients potentially for the United States? That’s first and foremost because that’ll inform both. how do you maximize your trip to the United States? Because maybe you go to one of those ecosystems after it’s a much quicker flight and less expensive to do that. But then also, who are you targeting at the actual event? I feel like SelectUSA is really great because you do get ahead of time access to the platform where you can research participants who they are. So if Phoenix is the right place for you potentially you then ahead of time can reach out set up pre-meetings or meetings in person there to speak to the people from the ecosystems that you need to go to look at the different services providers, do you need accounting or banking services in the US do you like those people are there too so really do your research ahead of time to understand both on the broad scale where you might fit in the United States and then also really at the event and with those participants, who do you need to meet with and be proactive and setting that up ahead of time would be my biggest thing.

Frances Simowitz: It comes down to research and doing your homework like all things in business.

Bill Kenney: Yeah, Woody Allen said 80% of life is showing up. I think in events as you just said probably 80% is actually the preparation you do ahead of time and in making sure that you’re targeting the right people based on as you said where the customers are and then reconnecting to the right relationships in that region to make it all work. So no that’s super advice. That’s awesome. great Francis. This has been so helpful and I think companies get a lot out of this. What we’ll do is pop your information certainly in the description below. And are you open to companies reaching out to you in advance?

Frances Simowitz: a hundred percent. We would love that. We’re also going to be bringing several team members with us this year to SelectUSA. So also happy to connect with anyone ahead of time. But then also in person while we’re there.

Bill Kenney: That’s fantastic. thank you for taking the time today, and I can’t wait to see you on June 23rd to 26th.

Frances Simowitz: Same you there Bill.

Bill Kenney: All right. Thanks, Frances.

Watch the conversation here

SelectUSA Summit, 23-26 June 2024, Washington, DC

Frances Simowitz,

Feel free to contact us with any questions

Bill Kenney,