California Dreaming Can Become a Reality for Gateway to US Participants

by Viki Forrest, CEO ANZA Technology Network

When Robert Castaneda, the founder of Sydney-based software company Customware decided to open an office in Silicon Valley last February – in the middle of the worst financial crisis in 70 years – every customer and industry affiliate questioned the move. “They all said I was crazy – every single person, bar the board,” Castaneda says.

Timely story in SmartCompany that coincides with our work putting together the 2009 Gateway to the US Summit here in Silicon Valley, October 5-7. Why? Because every year, while there are great companies willing to take the risk that is needed to participate in our Gateway program, there are a handful of risk-averse companies that tell us “it’s too early” for them to come and check out the US market.

As I always say in our Gateway workshops and in my one-on-one meetings with Aussie entrepreneurs, “It’s never too early.” Australian companies need to be thinking globally from Day One. And if they’re not, they are selling themselves terribly short.

The US is still the world’s largest marketplace and Silicon Valley is still the epicenter for making innovative ideas into marketable commodities, for making start-ups realize potential, for the opportunity to increase projected revenue 10 times (or more) than what it could be in just the Australian marketplace alone.

When Australian companies think globally, the natural first choice for expansion is into the US market. After all, the language is the same which makes learning the business practices relatively easy.

“…the key thing to do is to get close to your customers – and you can’t do that from Australia. So it’s not the time to be defensive. We saw it was more of a risk not to be there… and that’s paid off for us really well compared to our competitors who went into their shells…”

says Customware’s Castaneda. His move to the US earlier this year has already paid off with several high profile contracts, including internal systems development for the Office of the President of the United States.

While we are about to close registration for companies to be a part of the 2009 Gateway to the US Summit, we will hold the door open to any innovative Aussie company that reads this and agrees with us at ANZA TechNet that it’s never too early to come find out your company’s potential in the US. Don’t let the economic downturn (which the Valley is already showing healthy signs of recovery from) or a belief that your company or product is “too early” in its development bring about risk-averse behavior that leads to you putting off the all-important task of thinking globally now.

Over the years that I have been involved with the Gateway to the US program, many of our participating companies have initially thought it was “too early” for them to come find out more about the US market. But they took the leap, came across the Pacific and said at the end of their Summit experience, “I wish I knew about the Gateway earlier!” Watch this short video of the 2008 Gateway to the US companies and hear what they have to say after completing the program.

Can we sign you up now? Please contact me at if you would like to discuss your options.

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