Launching a startup in the US from the UK, the example of Hubdub

An interesting case study at today’s TechCrunch GeeknRolla event in London was a presentation about launching a start up business in the US, whilst based in the UK.

Lesley Eccles, co founder of, a news prediction website, gave an excellent presentation about their experience.

So theory went like this. Hubdub wanted to launch in the US because its the biggest market. They thought that launching in the UK as well, would dilute their efforts, increase marketing spend and generally complicate things. So Lesley recommended launching like this:

Use a conference to launch. Hubdub launched at Demo 09.

Hire a PR agency – this can be costly, but Hubdub went for a big bang launch so exposure at launch was crucial.

The launch cost them a third of their seed money but they got 100 media sites to cover hubdub, so it got the site noticed.

Visit the States regularly.

Develop US-based advisors.

Network, network and network – always a key part of any business is the marketing.

Be nice to users – people want good service and they don’t expect it, so surprise them.

Listen to users and iterate your product as they suggest then they’ll do the marketing for you.

Identify superusers – then hire and recruit them. Hubdub hired six of their super users as administrators etc.

Some super users will do stuff for free, like moderation. Tap into their good will and reward them and they will evangalise for you.

Try to meet them face-to-face.

Get the small stuff right:

Hubdub got a US phone number and it helped them build trust with their audience.

Cultures are very different, so steep yourself in the other culture and live and breathe it.

Use local spellings and grammar.

Beware humour is a dangerous thing. Sometimes humour doesn’t translate online, but it also doesn’t cross cultural boundaries.

Many of these points are relevant for any web start-up, whether its launching in the US or anywhere else, some are more pertinent to this example. However, there’s plenty of good advice here.