Yet Another German American Success Story
CAST PHARMA, Inc.
CAST PHARMA is a leading specialist for Visual Storytelling in healthcare and life sciences, explaining the mode of action of pharmaceutical and biotech products as well as the function and use of medical devices. For their international customers, they create memorable 3D Mode-of-Action animations, powerful presentations and interactive applications for tablet devices. In 2010, CAST PHARMA founded its U.S. company and started working with the German American Chamber of Commerce. We spoke with CEO Stefan Wolf in December 2013 to discuss the development of the company's U.S. entity over the past three years as well as the plans and goals for the future.
GACCNY: Mr. Wolf, we are happy to look back at a great cooperation with CAST PHARMA since 2010. Can you explain what your market entry strategy was back then?
CAST PHARMA: We were looking for a simple and promising way to enter the U.S. market. Since we’ve worked with various German Chambers of Commerce in Europe before, we were concentrating on the services of the German American Chambers right away. We decided that an office representation with a physical address and phone number in New York would make things a lot easier in the beginning.
GACCNY: Once you became active in the U.S. market, how did you start acquiring clients and presenting your products and services?
CAST PHARMA: Fortunately, our target group is well defined; we’re mainly focusing on pharmaceutical companies. Even though the opportunities in the US are almost unlimited, the market is highly competitive and clients are used to a high standard of quality. In the beginning, we started with smaller projects from Europe that we expanded to the U.S. I was travelling between Germany and the U.S. frequently for meetings with decision makers at pharmaceutical companies. It was crucial to present our products in person. The first acquired contract in the U.S. was an important milestone for the whole company.
GACCNY: Mr. Wolf, after the first successful projects what were the next steps, for instance in terms of staff?
CAST PHARMA: In the beginning, it was just me being responsible for the development of the U.S. market. We soon recognized that we needed an employee locally and decided to hire. The time difference and of course the different culture are just two aspects of why it is important to have an employee familiar with the U.S. market. After some bad experiences, we eventually found a qualified and trustworthy employee who used to be an intern with the German American Chamber of Commerce in New York.
GACCNY: How are U.S. rules and regulations different from Europe and did you have to make any modifications to your products?
CAST PHARMA: Since we are selling a mostly digital product dealing with the human body, it was not necessary to modify our products. However, rules and regulations in the U.S. differ from the ones in Europe. We prepared ourselves with extensive research on this topic. Luckily, our customers are also well aware of the legal aspects they have to work within and support us with most of the information needed.
GACCNY: What are your plans and goals for the future?
CAST PHARMA: Right now we are happy with the way everything works. Of course, it would be great to open an office somewhere in the U.S. within the next one or two years. However, we would still keep our office representation with the German American Chamber of Commerce. It’s a prime address within Manhattan’s Financial District and we’ve been very happy with their service. We’ve also used their conference room for meetings and interviews in the past.
GACCNY: In your opinion, Mr. Wolf, what is important for a successful U.S. market entry and what is your advice for other German companies?
CAST PHARMA: As a first step, it is important to have a U.S. address and phone number and somebody answering the phone during U.S. business hours. The office representation service is an efficient and inexpensive way to accomplish this. Later, it is helpful to have your own company representative in the U.S. Understanding the different needs and requirements of Americans compared to Germans is just one factor for success.
Statista, an innovative company based in Hamburg, Germany, is one of the leading statistics portals on the Internet. They integrate data on over 60,000 topics from over 18,000 references onto a single professional platform. But until two years ago, they were largely unknown in the U.S. Like many success stories of German midmarket companies in the U.S., Statista’s began with a cooperation with the German American Chamber of Commerce. After founding their U.S. subsidiary, they utilized the Chamber’s resources to represent their company in the new market for their initial market entry.
This December, Statista will graduate from the Chamber’s assistance program and will open its own office in Manhattan. We sat down with CEO, Dr. Friedrich Schwandt, and Managing Director & Global Head of Sales, Manuel Mörbach, to learn about how they have grown in the American market.
GACCNY: Congratulations again on opening your own office here in New York in December – what an exciting time! But maybe we should start by going back to the beginning. What drove you to enter the US in the first place?
Statista: Well, as you know, we decided to test the waters two years ago. A part of it was pride. We’re all familiar with the internet based business models like Amazon or eBay that came to Germany from the US. But there are very few German web portals that made it in the US market. We wanted to prove that we could be a world leader.
GACCNY: How did you first find out about the chamber?
Statista: It was a simple Google search. We knew we wanted to found a company in the US and open an initial representation office. Both services are offered by the chamber in New York so it was an easy decision for us.
GACCNY: How did our services help you with a successful market entry?
Statista: We realized that it is much easier working with US companies being a US entity ourselves. A US address and phone number give our business the feeling of professionalism and trustworthiness that our customers demand. That’s a big plus.
GACCNY: In your business, it is crucial to work with local partners. How did you build new, lasting relationships?
Statista: In the beginning it was hard getting in touch with local partners, especially before we started our virtual office representation in New York. Through existing relationships in Germany, we were able to introduce ourselves to some US contacts. We also visited university conferences and presented our portal. Slowly but surely, our company became more known in the industry and across the country. A big leap forward came from media partnerships with the Wall Street Journal and Mashable.
GACCNY: When did you know you were ready to open your own office?
Statista: Even though opening our own office was the goal from the beginning, we were pretty conservative and always kept an eye on our numbers. We wanted to make sure to have enough customers to be able to afford a US office. We reached that point this year.
GACCNY: As a last question, do you have any advice you would like to give other German companies interested in entering the US market?
Statista: The virtual office is a great starting point to make first contacts and to build reputation. But you need to stick to your plan. You need to be present in the US, not just virtually.
Hanno-Vito North America
Hanno® – specialized in sealing building joints and insulating noise - has been a virtual office partner with the German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. in New York since 2010. In an interview in October 2013, Mr. Andreas Rissmann, representing Hanno-Vito North America, explained that the office representation service goes beyond the physical address in the Financial District of New York City and a phone number. Hanno® benefits from the strong chamber network to promote their products and has easy access to relevant information on energy efficiency and building technology related topics. Additionally, Hanno® regularly participates in different chamber events throughout the year to expand their network.
In the US, Hanno® focuses primarily on its state-of-the-art Hannoband® product range for energy efficient sealing of construction joints e.g. for roofing, facade, window & door applications. Hannoband® are compressed tapes made of impregnated PU-foam available in several roll formats, which expand in the joints and seal them. They are rain and air tight, UV-resistant, provide thermal as well as noise insulation and will remain flexible to adjust to building material movements, which will affect the size of the joint. Field-testing has proven that Hannoband® lives up to its high expectations for more than 15 years. For further information, please visit: www.hanno-vito.com and www.hanno.com
Mr. Rissmann describes the distribution process as follows: “For the time being, products are shipped from Germany to its North American distribution partners. In the near future Hanno® plans to expand their activities in the US and is looking for logistic solutions in order to reduce delivery times and to add products currently not available in North America.”
With regards to Hanno’s® market entry strategy, Mr. Rissmann points out that there is no plug-and-play solution: “You have to be familiar with the needs and the expectations of the American market, which can be significantly different from Europe. It is important to provide all relevant test certificates for your target market. It will take some time until you get started and can sell your first products, as modifications might be necessary. For Hannoband® we even conducted a hurricane test for the US, since we understood from potential customers that this is important for specific applications. This was a first for Hanno® and for compressed tapes in general, too” Having a local partner who is familiar with the US market and its requirements is crucial. For Hanno® this local partner is the German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
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