Conversation with a founder about expanding your startup internationally
Marta: Was this your first time in New York? What was being there like for you?
Graham: Wasn't my first time in New York. First time back in the city after about seven years, and it felt very different. Last time it was a holiday - getting to know the city, see the sites. This was very much making sure that it’s the right second city for Dream Factory. That was the reason for the visit and to look at new buildings, new sites. But if I landed in New York and had the gut feeling this isn’t the second city [for Dream Factory], no building viewings would have happened. But as soon as I got there, I knew that it’s the place to be.
Marta: What were the major differences immediately between London and New York, looking at it as a founder?
Graham: Higher value funding rounds… Yeah, higher value funding rounds. [There’s] more of an emphasis on needing to create content at the forefront, as opposed – maybe not more than the UK – but it's just more vocal about: I need to get this done. But it's more linked back to the business versus brand awareness. So it's very much: ‘When we do content, we see an increase in revenue. When we do go content, we see an increase in sign-offs.’ They match content and the business objectives earlier in conversation than we do here.
Marta: Interesting. Going off that, how is Dream Factory Brooklyn going to be different from Dream Factory London?
Graham: It won't. That's the beauty of it. There's no need to - why would we? Right? Dream Factory is its own energy. Dream Factory is its own thing. It hasn't existed anywhere else before. The community might make it [different]. It might have a New York vibe as it’s New York founders, but Dream Factory at its core is Dream Factory. No matter what city we're in, it doesn't matter – from London, Paris, Berlin, it doesn't matter. From North America, South America, Asia. Dream Factory is Dream Factory, there's no need to change city by city.
Marta: Nice, I like that.What are you most excited about when it comes to opening up Dream Factory in New York?
Graham: Pizza. No – To be totally honest, I think New York founders deserve it. When I was over there, I saw how much money they spend on content, but more worryingly, I see them not being able to create content because it’s not been done there. Founders there deserve it so they can save some money. Founders there deserve it so they can actually create the content. People are getting quoted 40, 50, $60,000 for a couple of videos because the agencies can charge those startups those fees. So instead of spending the money and being short on runway, or spending the money and taking a hit to the bank, they're not spending it in some cases, which is actually even worse for the business. So I think founders in New York really deserve to have a Dream Factory there. But to be fair, founders in every city deserve to have it. What was the question? Haha.
I think New York founders deserve it. When I was over there, I saw how much money they spend on content, but more worryingly, I see them not being able to create content because it’s not been done there.
Marta: What are you most excited about?
Graham: I'm most excited about founders filming on the first day that we launch and the cameras rolling and we see founders in Brooklyn actually shooting that content and being able to execute on it. And then when the content starts going live, they get to say ‘I'm a founding member of Dream Factory in New York – we shot this in Dream Factory, Brooklyn’. When we start seeing that stuff roll, that's exciting.
Marta: For sure. I know you said you wanted to keep names anonymous, but was there any wisdom you picked up or anything you would pass on to other founders looking to expand internationally?
Graham: You need to be there. Yeah, you need to be there. It's not really the same thing – I've had zoom calls, I've had phone calls, I've had voice notes. It's just not the same. Maybe it's different for a software business if they are global off the bat – in most cases for a business that you need people, a people-centric business needs to be where the people are. There's no other way. I learned more in three days in New York than I would have done in a year from London trying to do it. You just need to be there.
Marta: What was your biggest shock as a non-American going to New York
Graham: Almost getting hit by a bus because I looked the wrong way crossing the road. That was one of the biggest f****** shocks of the week.
Marta: Fair enough. Yeah, that's happened to me before. Anything else you would like to say?
Graham: Yeah, just been going back and forth, Dream Factory, because obviously by launching New York, announcing New York, talking about New York, we want to get UK founders excited about it.
So maybe the last question should be, how can Dream Factory members in the UK benefit from what they’ve got in store by a New York Dream Factory opening? And the answer to that is – like we're saying about Americanizing or localising content – localising content is really expensive. And the reason it's really expensive is because people know they have to pay for it, because these people are going to localise content because they're expanding. Expanding means cash. So they get absolutely f****** on localising content because it's assumed that they had the money to do it.
So Dream Factory members in the UK who have multi-site access can shoot and localise content for the US, but they can localise content for the US in London or the US. They have a home, they have somewhere that feels like a Dream Factory. That goes back to the other question of what will it feel like? How would it be different? It won't, it will be the exact same – it will feel like the same energy, like you're walking into Chance St, like you're walking into Rivington St. It'll be familiar. There'll be people there to help founders who care. Whether you're coming from London or any other part of the UK to Brooklyn – there'll be a friendly face.
Marta: Also the connections they can make from that startup ecosystem.
Graham: Yeah, there's loads of founders that I met in New York, VCs and companies, startups – we'll open up that door and window into new opportunities. Yeah, just like an international community, basically, of founders, all different businesses that are just being connected by this one thing… Dream Factory.
There'll be people there to help founders who care. Whether you're coming from London or any other part of the UK to Brooklyn – there'll be a friendly face.