Singapore infocomm local enterprises (iLEs) can expect stiff competition in the United States (US), but the market is huge and the environment is largely transparent in terms of business practices and opportunities.
|IDA's US office, located 30 minutes south of San Francisco, provides support to Singapore iLEs.
Sharing his insights into the US market, Mr Joachim Ng, US Country Director of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), said enterprise customers in the US tend to be "quite sophisticated and well informed and therefore able to differentiate between good and poor products".
"Enterprise customers are also more willing to give a chance to startups and foreign companies as long as the product is better or cheaper - compared to customers in Asia markets who tend to stick to the established brands," he said. However, Mr Ng cautioned that Singapore iLEs may find that it is an expensive market to penetrate. Underestimating the costs of doing business in the country, and a lack of alignment between an iLE's products and services and the needs of the US market, are some of the more common pitfalls.
"Many local companies do not have the resources to take on the US market or have products or services that are more suited to developing countries and therefore cannot compete in the US market," he said. "Companies should be prepared for significant outlay as they start their operations in the US."
Commitment to the market, in the form of setting up a local presence, is a must. "Without a US registered address, it's almost impossible to get a business contract," said Mr Ng.
This is where IDA's US office can help. The US office was set up in early 2000 and is located in Redwood City, 30 minutes south of San Francisco. It provides support to Singapore iLEs with compelling products or services that are able to compete in the US market, facilitates business partnerships and helps introduce these companies to venture capitalists in the Valley.
IDA's US office helps to host promising iLEs within its office business centre. There are currently four companies that are actively using the centre. The four - SecureAge, Muvee, Hiperware and Progeniq - pay a small monthly fee and are given access to the "hot desking" business incubator space. The US office has also helped these companies as well as others to get plugged into the local business community through introductions and meetings.
As the IDA's "eyes and ears" in Silicon Valley, the US office also maintains relationships with non-government organisations like the United Nations and the World Bank, which are involved in e-government programmes in developing countries. Another good platform for business networking is the Singapore American Business Association.
The IDA US office also has close ties with many of the global IT MNCs such as HP, Oracle, Google and Microsoft, and is in touch with a number of leading venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
The IDA's US office
- Supports Singapore iLEs who are trying to extend their markets to the US. This includes hosting promising iLEs within its office business centre.
- Facilitates US companies - including US-based startups - in setting up operations in Singapore.
- Maintains strategic relationships with local governments, business associations, non-government organisations and multinationals.
- Provides IDA with its "eyes and ears" in Silicon Valley which is the global hub of infocomm innovation.
Contact details: 3 Twin Dolphin Drive, Suite 150. Redwood City, CA 94065; Tel: 650 654 1716; Email: email@example.com.