The Munich-based startup, ProGlove, develops smart gloves that enable manufacturing and logistics staff to work faster, safer, and easier. Last January they joined German Accelerator along with four other startups as a member of the New York Class of Spring 2018. Munich Startup reached out to German Accelerator and sat down with founder and COO Jonas Girardet to get an update on how things have fared for ProGlove in the U.S. market.
How would you describe your experience in the U.S. so far?
Jonas Girardet: Over the past few weeks we have gotten very good insights into how the American market works. There are big cultural differences that definitely affect how we communicate with customers: Merely sending an email doesn’t get you very far in the U.S., whereas a short call can work wonders. To be convincing, you need to not only be well prepared but also able to provide your clients with all the necessary marketing materials. Once you have gotten your champion excited, they will be helpful and extremely supportive.
Has everything gone as planned so far, or have there been surprises?
Jonas Girardet: Of course, there are customs here that are different from what we’re used to back home. Some things move faster in the U.S., while others take much longer. For example, we could have already applied for our corporate American bank account back in Germany to save time.
What have the first few weeks in the German Accelerator program been like?
Jonas Girardet: We really feel like we’re in good hands here thanks to the regular coaching and the close collaboration with the mentors. The mentors come from different fields and are helping us get on track for the new market and the different competitive conditions here. So far we have received compelling input in the fields of sales, PR, and legal.
What is working with the mentors like?
Jonas Girardet: It is really awesome to have access to this big network of relevant industry players. The mentors take a lot of time to address our needs and questions. They are always available. When I have questions for a mentor, I often meet them for lunch. This is the advantage of the central location of the German Accelerator office in Manhattan – I can get around easily.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned so far?
Jonas Girardet: The most important thing we learned was that the U.S. market obviously functions differently than the German market. Often, U.S. corporations prefer to work with U.S. startups over German startups.
What do you think about the other companies in the accelerator?
Jonas Girardet: We keep in close contact with the other startups of the GA Tech program. I also regularly meet with startups that are already established in the U.S. to talk to them about what did or did not go well in the past weeks. Often they have had similar experiences and can give us good tips based on what they’ve learned.
What are the initial advantages New York has that you’ve seen?
Jonas Girardet: New York is an incredibly dynamic city, it is the startup hub of the East Coast and people are extremely open to new ideas. The startup scene is broad and diverse: Nowhere else can you find this many investors in one place. And we constantly meet people working in relevant industries.
What are your concrete goals for the next few weeks?
Jonas Girardet: Our U.S. team consists of four people. We definitely want to grow further in the U.S. and maintain our startup culture. Despite the time difference between German and the U.S., we work closely with our colleagues in Munich. This has worked very well for us so far and we want it to stay like that in the future.
Have you had time to enjoy New York City?
Jonas Girardet: Of course! After work, we often work out on the office rooftop overlooking the Downtown Manhattan skyscrapers. There are also a lot of great restaurants and bars as well as a big cultural scene – the quality of life is really high.
Read the interview in German here.