This year at the 2023 RSA Conference, the San Francisco based cybersecurity trade show, Clarity member organization the Transatlantic Cyber Security Business Network (TCBN) was proud to host an event exploring how UK cybersecurity companies can succeed in the U.S. market.
Held in partnership with the UK’s Department for Business & Trade (DBT), and chaired by UK Cyber Ambassador, Juliette Wilcox CMG, the panel featured senior cyber business leaders: Alastair Paterson, CEO at Reliaquest Threat Research (formerly Digital Shadows), David Garfield, CEO at Garrison, and Rowland Johnson, President of CREST and founder of Nettitude Group.
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The panel, from L to R (Alastair Paterson; David Garfield; Rowland Johnson; Juliette Wilcox CMG)
How can companies prepare to enter the U.S. cyber Market?
Across the panel, higher set-up costs in the U.S. were consistently called out as something to be aware of for firms – be it in recruitment, healthcare, or legal. This is something to anticipate and plan for before foraying into the US.
The vast and diverse geographic nature of the U.S. was also emphasized, with Rowland Johnson urging businesses to, “look at it as many markets in one”, and pay attention to the state or sector before choosing which area to launch in. Alastair Paterson echoed this by saying that, “timing is everything”, and urged organizations to start trying to land local clients and capital from the UK before actually setting up shop in the U.S.
What can UK firms do to stand out to U.S. investors?
There was agreement among the panelists that securing capital is a key part of achieving success in the highly competitive U.S. market, and building credibility is essential to stand out to the U.S. investment community.
David Garfield drew on his own experience to emphasize that there is no one-size-fits-all formula to secure funding in cybersecurity. He called out some important factors that companies should be aware of, like being present when industry investors come together, and being targeted in your pursuit of capital.
The panel also explained that many U.S. VCs are now basing their decisions to invest on credible and confident business leaders. Alastair Paterson said of this change that, “London was always thought to be more frugal and the US was traditionally more flashy, but now being efficient is back in fashion in this economy – this can be advantageous”.
How important is it to develop relationships with the U.S. government?
On the importance of developing relationships with government stakeholders, David Garfield pointed to Garrison’s experience with the U.S. government as being a successful part of growing their U.S. foothold. However, an important takeaway from the discussion was that while making inroads into federal government can help bolster an effective approach into the U.S. market, it is not the only tactic available to cybersecurity companies.
Alastair Paterson explained that a partnership approach can be a useful tool for growth and profitability, suggesting, “the US is quite partner friendly”. He added that state government can also be an avenue to success, and one that can be an easier route to navigate initially. Rowland echoed this, explaining that on both federal and state levels the regulations can be less stringent compared than in the UK and there is less friction in the U.S..
What are the biggest learning curves once your business is established?
Bringing the discussion to a conclusion, we asked the panelists to give insight into what the biggest learning curves were from their own experiences. The responses echoed what was mentioned throughout the panel. The US market is huge and varied so be prepared, do your research, ensure the right people are there to lead the charge, and come with ‘a war chest’.
Understanding the difference in culture is essential. There is a need for confidence, and as David Garfield commented, “Don’t be afraid of failure, learn and bounce back from it as quickly as you can”. Alastair Paterson hinted at the support an organization can seek out to achieve growth, whether it’s working with multinationals prior to arrival, looking for partners already in the U.S., finding experts to develop your communication and marketing strategies, or joining networks like TCBN. All will contribute to a greater chance of success in a market with a wealth of opportunity.
Reach out to find out how Clarity can help your cybersecurity firm make it in the States here.
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