Startup Success Stories


>>Okay, everyone. Thank you for coming today. We’re going to go
ahead and get started. So, today’s panel is going to
be on startup success stories. We’ll hear from three companies who successfully navigated
launching their operations in the United States. They will share some of the
challenges they found and some of the resources that
made their process easier. Now, I’m going to let each
panelist introduce themselves and their company and a
little opening comment.>>Thank you for
having me, everybody. I’m Mandy Sebel, and I’m the
head of People for the Americas, for a company called
UiPath, and UiPath is in the enterprise [inaudible]
and robotic process automation. So we’re bringing an
automation first mentality to our customers, helping
them essentially get rid of anything mundane so we can
automate just about any task that people don’t want to do to
elevate their human potential. Our company is born
in Bucharest, Romania, and we’re one of the fastest-growing
enterprise software companies to date. And it’s my understanding that
we’re the first unicorn company out of Romania, which
we’re very proud of, and I work out of our
New York City office.>>Thanks to Select USA for
inviting me on this panel today. My name is Charity Weeden. I’m the senior advisor
for strategy and policy at Astroscale. Astroscale’s mission is to maintain the long-term
sustainability of space, and I know that’s
a heavy statement. So, I’ll explain a little more. It’s a technology
and a space company that is developing the
means with which to clean up the space debris environment. After six decades of utilizing
space is now congested, and there are more activities
happening in space and a lot of satellites are
planning to be launched. So, this is a critical time and
an exciting time to be a part of the space industry. So, a $380 billion industry set
to grow to $1 trillion by 2040. So, there’s a lot at
stake here for the economy and for high-tech growth, and Astroscale is
there to support that. Thank you.>>Hi. Thank you for coming. My name is May Naor Weinstock. I’m the cofounder and
chief business development of IMNA Solutions. Our company headquarters
actually is in Israel, and we just established
our Americans headquarters in Arizona. IMNA Solutions is
a health IT company that is changing the face
of patient engagement for clinical trials and
complex chronic diseases. Today, one in three suffers
from a chronic disease, which is determined as
a disease that has more than one characteristic and
lasts more than two years. We’re looking at cancer,
diabetes, heart failure, and neurology and
other problems. The main problem is that most
of the people that suffer from chronic disease
actually spend only 30 percent of their time in the hospital
and 70 percent of their time at home where the physicians
have no clue what’s going on with them. Our system enables, our
system is data driven and uses data mining to actually
understand what is wrong with the patient and
flag real-time alerts. We are today growing and
opening our second base in the East Coast.>>Thank you, everyone. So, I’d like to start of the
conversation with talking about how you picked
a location in the U.S. and your target market. So, Mandy, what do
you need to think about early on when
you relocate?>>Yeah, so our company
experienced very, so born in Bucharest, Romania, we experienced very
quick commercial success over really the past three
years although the company was in formation for about
ten year before that. And, you know, we
followed a few things. We followed one where
the market was headed, so we actually had very
early success in Japan, where automation and RPA
technology was adopted very quickly from a commercial
standpoint, and then, you know, competitive trends
in the marketspace and our customers were really
pointing to the United States. And at that point, we had to evaluate whether
we should really be in the Silicon Valley
or in New York City. And while I wasn’t
there at the time, there was a competitive
organization that had rooted itself
on the West Coast. And, you know, so many
Enterprise companies, Enterprise software companies
on the financial markets are in New York, and so
the decision came to point towards New York
City, which has worked out incredibly well for us. So, I joined the
company in October 28. The company migrated its
official corporate headquarters in the states to
New York in 2017. And we are just about
1000 people in the Americas right now, and
so I think rooting ourselves into New York City was
really pinnacle for that. We had a lot of access
very quickly to a lot of our customers, a lot of
talent, a lot of tech talent, and our investors, it
really opened a lot of door.>>Great. So, Charity, so you’ve
also had experience establishing a company in the U.S. So, what
took Astroscale by surprise when deciding to
establish in the U.S.? Yeah, a little backstory,
Astroscale was founded in 2013 by a Japanese national
Nobu Okada, well known, and opened an office
in Singapore, opened a larger office in Japan, for which that was the
headquarters to build and design a satellite
that would go up and attach to other satellites to bring
them down if they’re space junk. The next step was to
open an office in the UK. There was a lot of
incentive to do that. Both policy incentive and
there’s an innovation effort in the UK to bring
in space companies. But we realize that the
largest market is the U.S. and the largest influencer of
the regulations and the policy of how we deal with
space debris was also in the U.S. I started
supporting Astroscale last year as a consultant and helped
them through the policy and the regulatory process, but
now we opened an actual office in Denver, Colorado, because
it was time to connect with the supply chain,
the talent in the U.S., and also be closer to some
customers that we want to work with here in the U.S. as well. So, those were really
important items for the growth of Astroscale and why we chose
the U.S. and particularly for Denver was a great talent
pool, lifestyle, cost of living, etc. Direct flights
from Tokyo and London. So, it kind of fit the
company’s geographic diversity, but also that supply
chain was important, and Colorado had a very
strong aerospace industry. What took us by surprise, there was pleasant
surprises, I have to say. One was the amount of access
we had to the government, the department of commerce. First off, we went to the Office
of Space Commerce and asked, you know, how do we,
who should we talk to, etc. and they were very
open even though they were a brand-new office, and there was
a lot of interest in talking to them, and they
directed us to Select USA, for which we had several
conversations with on kind of comparing locations
and helping us through that information
that we needed. So, really, the support of
the federal government there, but then drilling down into
the state-level support, the, you know, economic development
agencies that were very, very much open to
talking with us as well. So, a very pleasant surprise. The accessibility of government
to lure Astroscale to the U.S. And a surprise that is a
challenge was we’re, as I said, we’re in a very space
renaissance, as they say, and there’s a lot of regulatory
reform going on right now in the U.S., and as we entered
the U.S. market, there was a lot of rule-makings going on with
regard to the space industry. So, we started quickly
and hopefully strongly in being involved in
the regulatory comments, opportunities as well. There was commerce, and
there was state department. There was FCC. It has kept us very busy these
first couple months of starting up in the U.S. So, I think
the timing was also, you know, serendipitous as we were
coming into the U.S.>>Great. So May, what were the
challenges a self-funded startup like yourself faces when
choosing a target market?>>So, when you’re a
self-funded startup, you have basically a very
limited amount of money. I think that’s something that
most startups can actually feel, you know, you feel the pressure. So, when you choose a
place, you actually have to look at your partnerships. What are the partnerships
that you can establish within hat space, because
you have a limited runway, and that runway needs to be both
quick, efficient, and you have to make sure that the partners that you choose are not
necessarily the big companies that have the big name but
the partners are the ones that can help you show that
your product is valuable to the market. So, when you look at, when
you go into a partnership or when you go into a POC, proof
of concept, when you do it, you look at the state,
and you look at the space that you’re trying to go into. We’re looking at
healthcare, and healthcare, everybody knows that, Massachusetts is a really
good place for healthcare. We’re trying to find a place
that wasn’t as competitive, but it had enough partners
that we can approach. So, we found Arizona
to be our home. They have [inaudible] and
Mayo Clinic and Honor Health and Dignity Health, and
they have a lot of hospitals and research facilities
that were keen to help us with a soft landing, and what we
did is we built an action plan with them. So, we looked at them literally
as partners, not as, okay, let’s prove that our
product is working, and then we’re each going
to go our separate way. And that was crucial for
our growth in Arizona, and I think that when
you’re self-funded, and you don’t have somebody who
is, you know, who has your back, every penny counts, and every
mistake is a painful one. And we made a few, you know,
we always do, everybody does. And you have to learn
from your mistakes, and I think our crucial
mistake was trying to go for the big companies
first, and then we realized that the selling process
is longer, and we realized that bureaucracy is, or the red
tape, is a determining factor of how fast they’re going
to sign the partnership. So, we, you know, we went
back to the drawing table, and we decided that we’re going
to go to medium-sized companies, and Arizona, again, was the
state that had the most for us, the most medium-sized companies
that were looking to expand with international companies.>>Right. So, I’d like to
switch topics here and talk about talent and
building your teams. So, Mandy, what are
the key hires you need to make for your team? Yeah, so I’ve consulted to some
other fast-growing startups prior to joining UiPath, and
I think one of the things that was very attractive about joining the
companies is a reflection of what they did really well from a talent perspective
early on. So, we had, we already had
a basis of talent in Romania where the company was born from,
and our culture was very clear. And when you have a
company that has purpose and has a very clear
culture and set of values that you not only
espouse but are true, and you make your hires really
aligned to that value system, it really propels the company, and I think UiPath
did that really well. So, one of the, a couple of the
first key hires in the company in the states, and our
CEO spent a lot of time in the United States making
these key hires happen, which I think is another really
important talent strategy. Your founder, your CEO, your
initial leadership team, whoever that may be, if
you’re not spending, you know, over 50 percent of your
time, you know, hiring, you’re probably making
some early mistakes, letting go of the
culture too early. And that’s something that
you really don’t want to have happen. So, a couple of the key
roles that we made very early on were essentially members
of our leadership team. So, we hired our chief marketing
officer into the United States, and building our brand, really
quickly taking advantage of the market opportunity by
telling people who we were, telling our story,
getting our story out globally was
really important for us, and that was a very big land for
us, and I think it paved the way for quite a bit of our
growth very quickly. Second, we hired a regional
chief revenue officer, like ahead of Americas, who
you know, knew the market, knew the customers, was
able to build relationships with our other entities,
bring over the right talent from Romania or any of
our other, you know, global locations, and those
two people in addition to really growing the customer
base were really responsible for making all of
the early key hires. So, if I think about
it, you know, I came in like I
said in October 2018. I’m probably around the
500th person that they hired into the United States,
but I spent most of my interview process
with those two individuals and the CEO, and that’s
how critical talent was to this organization. Now, I think in addition
to that, there was really
early investment in a recruiting engine,
so, you know, whether you’re a small
company starting out, and you just bring, you know,
one or two people in house to do your recruiting
for you, it’s really, really key to have internal
recruiting resources who know how to go
at the market, build your employer brand,
bring the right talent into the organization early on. That’s really important, and if
you’re working with, you know, other third parties to
help you do that, you know, that they can help
control those organizations to support your success and
find you the right talent, I think that has been really
tremendous for this company, but it’s also a successful
formula for other companies that I’ve seen versus companies
that have been less successful in their early startup mode. And then you can really start
to build the processes and the, you know, interview processes
that carry that further, because obviously you
have to let, you know, let that permeate or, you
know, it’ll take you too long, and we grew really rapidly. So, you have to get it right at
the beginning, and then you have to build the systems
to allow for it. But those were some
of the key hires. And then probably
selfishly I would say this, I think it really does help
to have people in markets that do know the HR
and legal landscape, whether it’s third-party
partners when it comes to legalities or some sort
of early stage relationship that helps you do that. It’s very hard to install,
you know, benefits or programs or payroll later on
when you’re larger. It’s really very
helpful to have some of those foundational elements
early, and there’s a lot of ways to do that, either with
your own in-house resources or third-party ecosystems that
help you to get that right. But it’s difficult
looking back to fix things versus give a really like foundationally
great employee experience from the beginning, and I
think those are the things that we did well.>>Great, thank you. May, can you speak to
building the right team on a limited budget?>>Yes. So, when you’re looking
at a limited budget, you, you know, in a big company when
you have a few people occupying like the marketing department,
if one of them makes a mistake, there’s three or four
to catch that mistake. When you do it in a startup,
when you have one person who is applying themselves
to several positions, and they do the social media,
and they do the context and everything, if they make a
mistake, it’s a painful mistake. So, each person really counts. And when I’m looking at our
team, we handpicked each and every one of them. It was very important for
us, the founders, to sit down and talk to them and make sure that they understand
our crazy head. I mean, you have to be
crazy to start a startup. It’s not something
that, you know, if it was easy everybody would
have done that, but for us, it was really important
to make sure that those people understand
what we’re trying to achieve. Our company has a mission that,
you know, the founding team, which is the CTO,
the CEO, and myself, all have a personal story that
actually propelled the startup. So, it was important for us that
they A, know what we are trying to achieve, and B,
think outside of the box and bring themselves
into the game. So, one of the key elements for
us for choosing those people was to give them kind
of like a test. It has no answer to it. It’s just to see how they think. It’s just to see if they would
come to us and say, you know, we think there’s a
different way of doing things. Those are people that you want
to have really close to you. The stronger the people that are
with you, the stronger you are. So, those are the people
that you have to look for, especially if you know that
you can hire only three. So, if you can hire only
three, you better hire the ones that are going to tell you
that you’re making a mistake, and not the ones that
are going to agree with you about everything.>>Great. So, Charity. I know Astroscale is set
up to attract STEM talent. Can you speak to
that a little bit?>>Sure. The space
industry, I feel, is unique in that it’s small. We tend to know each other, and
so very competitive for talent as well, especially aerospace
talent, engineers, etc. And so, but it’s also critical. We are a space company. So, and we’re building
space technology. So you absolutely must
have that talent stream, and so aligning ourselves
with local universities and being outgoing and engaging in the community is
incredibly important. Astroscale is also, you know,
we realize the importance of being among the
like-minded industries. So, the space industry,
for example, you know, if there’s trade associations, if there are business round
tables, just getting to know and networking with
our community, you can usually get some
good leads of who’s looking for new work and the like. I think Astroscale is also in
a unique position because of that vision and the
message that we’re bringing of space sustainability, that
it’s an environmental issue, and I feel that the
younger, you know, graduates can connect
with that very well. And so there’s a bit of a
draw to that sort of vision and mission as well that
supports Astroscale’s, you know, hiring needs. So, STEM education is important. Universities supporting that and having those engagements
and links with them. Putting that aside,
there’s also, you know, it’s not just the commercial
community we want to work with. We also hope to have the
government as a customer. So, having talent that
knows how to work with and through the government is
incredibly important as well.>>Thank you. So, Mandy, UiPath
scaled rapidly. So, looking back, what were
the challenges and benefits of scaling so rapidly. So we grew to be about 3000
people in less than three years, so if you want to take
that in for a minute. I was having dinner with
our chief people officer who hired me, and he
told me about two months in that just a reminder that at
the end of 2017, the company was about 70 people, and I was
joining at about, you know, five, 600 people, in the
Americas, and we will almost be about 3000 people right now. So, I think the, you know,
the benefit is, you know, I think every person in our
organization, literally, globally feels that
they are a part of like an incredibly
special ride, okay. We all feel like we’re
building something. It happened really
quickly, so even, you know, employee 3000 feels like
they’re part of a startup, and we’re all very
connected to our values. We all communicate, we’re an
incredibly communicative company for such a global company
that grew so quickly. I think everybody feels
incredibly connected to the success of the
company, and then just to build on what you were saying about
STEM talent, or you know, a competitiveness for talent, I think we all globally know
how difficult it is to compete for engineering talent,
sales talent, women who can be future leaders,
like, you know, diversity and inclusion, all these
topics are just so top of mind right now,
but you feel it, you feel that like
hiring-first mentality from every single
person in the company. And, I think that’s maybe not
unique to us, but it is unique to have that feeling and
have everyone so committed to bringing like absolutely top
talent into the organization. And, you know, I’ve
never [inaudible] part of our recruiting team, and
you never have trouble getting somebody to interview. You never have trouble
getting people to refer people. You never have trouble
getting people’s time to talk about the talent and
agenda of the organization, which is really special. So, those are some of the things
that I think are incredible about our growth and our success
and that we are now really, you know, almost
like turning the page on like how do you make
sure you don’t lose that. How do you put in the
rest of the ecosystem from a human capital standpoint,
a talent strategy standpoint so that you can, you know, make
the quality and caliber of hire at number 3002 as critical and
important and as, you know, capable as employee one,
because you want that feeling, and your customers
want that, right. They don’t want to feel short
changed because they got, you know, somebody later on. So keeping the caliber
really high is difficult and challenging. Keeping the, you know, the
message in the community about globally who
we are, what we do. Creating unique experiences for
our employees, really important. Creating a path for
diversity and inclusion, whatever that means globally,
really important to us. Going at early career talent now
to solve for the problems later on in career for people. It’s hard to hire enterprise
software sales leaders who are women today because
people weren’t focused on it 20, 30 years ago, and we want to
make sure that we’re solving for that early because
we have the opportunity as a young company to make
those choices for ourselves now. So, I think we have some of
those challenges ahead of us. Certainly, when you hire that
quickly, you make some mistakes, and when your culture
is that important and when your customers, you
know, really demand so much of you as well and your
teams demand so much of you, I think it’s equally as
important to identify when you’ve made a mistake
talentwise or culturally, and you know, move quickly
past that for the organization, so that you don’t, you know, you don’t disenfranchise
other people who are working really hard. And I think those are some of the natural talents
cycles that we’re facing.>>Great, thank you. So, each of you have kind
mentioned some partnerships or resources that
have helped you grow and become a startup
success story. So, May, I’d like to ask you, how did you find the
right partnerships to excel your growth, and what
resources did they provide you?>>Market research. I think one of the crucial
thing is market research. When it goes back to
choosing where you’re going to put your company, so when
you do that market research, you have to look at what
resources they have. When we looked at Arizona, we
wanted to know if they have, if they have an, you
know, an IT emphasis. If they have healthcare
emphasis. If they have special
groups or networking that can facilitate that. The first thing that we did
is actually we had our CEO, Israel Haikin, fly there
and look at the ecosystem, and once we looked
at the ecosystem, you look at the groups
that are there. So, for instance, in Arizona, and I know that other states
have it as well, but in Arizona, the governor has set to put
healthcare in the front, and because of that, there’s the
Great Phoenix Economic Council. There’s the commerce
community as well. There’s the, since
we’re from Israel, there’s the Israel
technology alliance, but every, I know that they have the
same alliance with Japan, and they have the same
alliance with the UK. So, look for those alliances
and look for those people. Once you find them, make sure that you know what
it is that you want. Don’t just go there and say,
okay, I’m looking for a company. Be very specific of
how they can help you. So, whether it’s with financials
or whether it’s partnerships or workforce, they
know the space. They’ve been there. They work there,
they know the people. But make sure that you
have the right questions. So, our target was to
find educational partner, so we were looking
for a university. They, in return, said
okay, you know what, there’s two universities. One is very, one is
looking at research. So, they connected us with
ASU, Arizona State University. They have the connections. It makes the time to
market much shorter. So, you have to know
the right people. It’s better than
sending a cold email and then waiting for a response.>>Great. Thank you. So, Charity, how is Astroscale
approaching partnerships with other U.S. companies.>>Yeah, partnerships
are critical. We’re not just talking
a small widget here. We’re talking about space. And so, it’s not just one
company that goes up and cleans up space and makes
it sustainable for everyone in the future. It’s going to require
an international effort. It’s going to require
a government effort, an industry effort. And so we’re engaged
on all those levels from the United Nations, World
Economic Forum, to, you know, how we’re contributing to trade
associations here in the U.S. as well, building best practices
and devising, you know, how responsible operators
should be in space instead of leaving their
space junk up there, you know, bring it down, etc. But when you get down to
the business partnerships, those are key because not
everyone has, you know, the specific technologies
across the board for the space environment. So, you strategically select
partners that can support and help build each
other’s business. Also, partners that know how
to work with the government. Because let’s face it, space
technology is dual use, and it has a military side
and a commercial side. We’re on the commercial side,
but if we’re going to work with the government,
we also need partners that can help through
that as well.>>Great. So, I’d like
each of you to kind of share some closing remarks
on advice for starting a company in the U.S. or launching
your operations there or any just final remarks,
and then I’ll open it up to the audience for
some Q and A. So, Mandy, would you like to start.>>Sure, thank you. So, I guess a final
remark is, you know, it’s really never too early
to think about the talent that you’re brining in and to
make sure that your vision, your mission, your
values, you know, as trite as that might
sound, are incredibly clear, really well understood,
and that you, you know, you never lose sight of, you
know, connecting your teams to that, because your
customers feel it. And anything that
you can do early on as you establish your
footprint in a new ecosystem, to take advantage early of
the, you know, the partnership, the available, you know,
marketplace opportunities, your investors, to help you
get at the right talent early. I think it really
makes the difference between successful companies
and unsuccessful companies in my own experience,
and so it’s been terrific to be a part of UiPath. Thank you for having me.>>Thank you.>>So, it boils down
to one word, engage. For small startups, you may
be tempted to just, you know, get a small office and head
down and get the work done. You have to get out there and
engage, engage with government, engage with industry,
engage with academia. I think that’s where
you can, you know, find interesting resources
and human resources and talent that way as well and get the
word out about your company and its mission and
its vision as well. So, I would say engage as
much as you possibly can.>>Basically, they said
everything, but yeah, it’s all about relationships. It’s all about relationships,
how you maintain them, and as startups, you know, we
sometimes have the tendency of finding somebody and then for some reason they’re
not a perfect fit. But, just be courteous. Make sure that even
though that person or that company is
not a fit for yours, maintain those relationships
because, you know, sometimes you start at one point
in your path and then you grow and you change, and when you
change you need different people, and you have your
company and the people in the company have
different needs. And all of a sudden you
remember that one person that you decided
that they had no use. So just maintain
those relationships and make sure that, you
know, it’s not a once in a lifetime phone call.>>And as I was reflecting on
what each of you were saying, you guys each mentioned
ecosystems. So, I’d like to ask to the
group, so feel free to answer as you see fit, but what
is crucial in an ecosystem and what you think some
ecosystems are missing that they could improve upon
to support companies trying to operate in the U.S.>>I’ll let you start
over there.>>I think that an ecosystem, a
good ecosystem is an ecosystem that supports each other
regardless of the competition. So, if you work in a
space of healthcare, I think that the more
people work together, the better off we’ll be. I can say from my
experience healthcare is not, does not belong to
the government. It doesn’t belong
to the IT companies. It belongs to us, so we have
to remember that, you know, right now I’m sitting here as
a startup, but then, you know, down the road, I’ll be somewhere
and I’ll be the patient. And we have to remember that
an ecosystem is something that, you know, you support, they support you and
you support them. So, find that networking. Find that, and don’t be
afraid to be that first one that actually recommends
somebody else to do a job that was turned to you. That’s fine. If you can provide
that, somebody else can, and that’s okay, because,
you know, time will come, and they’ll do the
same hopefully.>>Well, I’ll just mention
in the space business, ecosystem can get large as well. But knowing that we use
satellites every day, you’re using satellites
right now, and knowing that it’s
critical to our modern society. It brings a connection
for what we do. It might be very technical, you
know, in a clean room, etc., but really it’s for the public. It’s for you to have
access to GPS information and communications and remote
sensing and your Google maps, etc. And so I think
our ecosystem, it’s really the entire global
society and the public. When it comes to
culture in that ecosystem and the company itself,
it’s maintaining that vision and having, those that
are in part of the company and the culture understand the
vision and allowing, you know, differing opinions,
diversity to shine through and help the company grown.>>So who here in the
room does something that they wish they
could automate? Everyone, right. So, for us as a company,
each and every one of you are a part
of our ecosystem. We are really trying to
unlock human potential. That’s essentially
what our automation and our technology does,
and so whether it’s the, whether it’s all of you who
have a curiosity and we’ll go and look at our technology
that’s free and available and learn how to use it, and
that curiosity that you have, whether it’s communities
or the academic alliances that we’re a part of, our
customers, our partners, our former customers, the
candidates that we hire or don’t, I think those
are all that our investors, our investors, the
influencers that surround us, are all a part of that. And then, you know, something that I think is equally
important is that particularly as, you
know, those of us who are in leadership roles or
the other in the world that we get our coaching
and leadership from, who are not necessarily in
our companies, that give us like unique perspectives. So, I think that word is, you
know, can mean many things, but I think the point
being that there’s just so many different
channels and avenues that early-stage companies and later-stage companies
need to take advantage of. Humility, to be humble, is
part of our value system, and you know, what that
really means for us is around really not having an
ego, constantly being open to feedback and learning
and hearing from others, and just by nature of having
that open-mindedness, you know, I think even opens up, you know,
who’s in your ecosystem wider.>>Great, well thank
you all very much. Now, I’d like to open it up
for Q and A for the audience. So, if anyone– there’s
mics in the back.>>Thank you, just you
mentioned there about bringing in expertise on the HR side, because presumably outsourcing
some of the legal aspects, just how did you identify
where you could get somebody that would really
work or a company that would really work very
well with your company?>>Yeah, so I think
at different stages of the company you might
take different approaches. So, as an example, you know, in a market that
you’re emerging into, it could be the United
States, you know, there’s a lot of third-party providers they
call like a PEO, you know, help you like get the
infrastructure stood up, to buy you some time before
you need to bring some of that in-house
expertise into the door. But, you know, outside of that,
I think whether you’re ready for somebody as large as a chief
HR officer or you just need, you know, and early stage
generalist, you know, or a recruiter or some
combination of both, it probably depends a little bit
about what you’re trying to do, how fast you’re trying
to grow, and what type of complexity you have. But, you know, people or a
couple of people who are, you know, savvy enough
to know some of the legal challenges
you might face, who give you the right
foundational support or who know how to
work the networks, whether is with your employment
council, your benefit providers, depending on, you know,
what your system is. And I often, when
I’ve been consulting to earlier-stage companies,
we’ll even rely on people like those folks
I just mentioned, their benefit provider,
they’re employment council, to help them interview
for that candidate so that you’re getting
the right mix, right. It’s the cultural ambassador
that helps you, you know, sort of attract the right
talent to the organization but also has the sophistication
to know how to, you know, sort of protect you as you grow.>>All right. A question to all three of you. I mean you are non-U.S.
companies, and you went to the U.S. without having
[inaudible] or anything. How do you compete for young or
good talent or the best talent with other companies without
having actually an [inaudible] at the beginning.>>So, from Astroscale’s
perspective, I believe the company
was well known in the U.S. before we
opened an office here as one of the very few companies in the
world looking at this problem, and so we made our name
well known because of that, and engaging early, before
you even had an office here, engaging with the
government and the industry, and so it was a natural
progression to move an office here. And like I said before, the
mission also attracts the talent but also the location
of where you do set up shop will also
support the talent growth.>>For us, since our research
and development is in Israel, and here in the States we have
the marketing and sales team, what we did is we went to
universities in Arizona and we looked for, we
looked for young talent, because we were looking, we
were looking for somebody who was going to grow us. We went to a few
of those job fairs, and we participated in them. We gave a background of our
company, and we invited them to join us for kind of like
a tag along for a week. So they were able
to see our culture. They were able to meet
our team from Israel through video conferencing,
and then we chose from there.>>Yeah, I would say probably a
little bit similarly, so for us, I remember hearing
about the company when it raised its
Series B, and it was less than 50 people in
the United States. It was early 2018. I had read about
it in TechCrunch. But the name wasn’t
familiar to me. You know, I was sort
of surprised to see such a successful
raise in New York City for a technology company
because that’s not as common, but I had been keeping
an eye for it. And, you know, the savvy
researcher, you know, on this side of the consumer, is
a potential candidate, you know, does the research, right. So, really important no matter
where you’re located for people to be accessible, you know. On Linked In, everyone
uses Linked In. You know, those ecosystems
we talked about, whoever is investing in you,
that you leverage their network, that you use really your early
top talent to be available in that interview process
and sell your story. I actually think in
some ways it’s easy when you’re early early, if
you have an exciting product in technology or whatever
it is that you’re bringing in the market, if that
early group of people and that story is
incredibly compelling. Because not everybody wants
to work at Google, right. In fact, many people want
to leave those organizations to have an impact, but
you have to be able to differentiate why your impact
is different from their impact and their impact and my impact. And that comes to life, I think, with the right people
telling that story. Probably the second thing I
would say is it is about some of those really early key hires that you will probably
get help to make. So, as an example, for us, when we have tremendously
engineering talent in Romania, and our brand is well
known in Romania. But here when we wanted to
drop ourselves into the middle of Seattle and Belleview
surrounded by all the top dogs, we made a couple of
incredible hires, who have real heat centers
for AI and machine learning, and they are really, really
important to our talent brand. I personally feel very lucky. We’ve invested a lot in
our employment brand, but that doesn’t come,
you know, day one. That comes with time, and there’s a sophistication
to that as well. So, whether you’re on the
bandwagon of your marketing and your general brand or you
have the time and investment to go right out to
your employer brand, I’d say really key early hires
that are attractors of talent, not just from their own
networks but know how to do it is really important.>>Yeah, I have a question
regarding fundraising and capital. So, the U.S. tends to have
good valuations for companies that have intellectual
property or growing startups and attracts a lot
of talent and money. Have you found the U.S.
to be a hospitable place for capital raising,
fundraising in capital markets, and have you availed
yourself of it?>>Astroscale has
raised $133 million, most if not all of
it from Japan. So, we’re well capitalized
now to move onto the next, the demonstration
mission for next year. So we’re not in a
position to reach out to the U.S. capital
markets yet.>>IMNA has bootstrapped, which means that we brought
money from home until now. We’re just now starting the
first, actually first series. It really depends on
where you are in the road. If you’re looking
for angel money. If you’re looking
for seed money. You have to make sure that when
you’re looking at raising money that you don’t just turn to any
investor or any angel or any VC. Make sure that you
look at their portfolio and they’re actually
in your space. Otherwise, they’re not
going to take the time and date to even answer. You have to make sure
that you have something that is, that shows traction. Otherwise, especially
in the United States, the competition is fierce. It’s not easy to raise
money here or anywhere else, so you have to make sure that your financial
[inaudible] is very accurate but easy to understand. Don’t have too many numbers. Don’t have too many figures. Tell a story. Tell a compelling story that
is [inaudible] of your brand and make sure that you’re
looking at the right investors. VC is not necessarily
the correct investor if you’re looking
to raise $500,000. On the other hand, you
will not go to an angel if you’re looking
for $6 million. So, you have to make sure that you know how
much money you need, and don’t raise more
than what you need. Because, you know, a
lot of startups will go and say we’re raising $20
million, but they need only 10. So don’t raise more than you
need because you will need that money down the road. But when you need it again, then
you’ll be in a stronger place. You’ll have customers. You’ll have traction. You’ll have the talent that
you now have money to hire, and then your valuation
will be different. So, you’ll be talking to a completely different
crowd of investors.>>Next question?>>So these are three
wonderful success stories, but a success story
never is that linear. So, what was, for example, a pitfall you stepped
in or a fuck up? Something, what your really
say, well that happened. That was a big mistake, and because I guess we can learn
maybe a lot also from a mistake, if you are, it could
be that transparent.>>For us, it’s we started with
one product that we were sure that the market has
a need for it. And then we realized that it
had the need only for half of what we were offering. So, we had to go back and make
sure that we’re not in love with what we were offering,
but we knew the space. We knew what we wanted
to achieve. We just, we weren’t accurate
at what we were developing. So we changed it. We just kept the
core technology, but we changed the platform. Today, it’s a really good thing. We have a market for
what we’re doing. But at that time, it
took us three months that we didn’t have, and we
had to hire different people because we’re now, we weren’t
looking at data analysis only. We were looking at
machine learning, and we needed data scientists. That’s a completely
different avenue. So, we had to spend
more money on hiring, and we had to spend more money
on the system infrastructure and the architecture, and that
took us back about six months.>>Any questions? Okay, well that’s it. Well, thank you, everyone,
for coming and give a round of applause to our panelists
for doing such a great job. [ Applause ]

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