If you are an entrepreneur working in technology then the chances are that you dream of making it in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Approximately 25% of all US venture capital investment goes to San Francisco and 15% to Silicon Valley, meaning that 40% of all US venture investment is concentrated in the Bay area. It’s where many of the world’s tech fortunes are made, or more often than not broken with an estimated 90% business failure rate.

I have advised lots of clients looking to break into San Francisco and Silicon Valley, but I also took my former company into the market and learnt some tough lessons myself before successfully acquiring a company to become a top 10 player in the US tech PR market.

Last week I caught up with my network of San Francisco and Silicon Valley PR and comms leaders and I asked them for their top pieces of advice for companies looking to break into the Bay area. Here’s what they said:

Know why you want to launch in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley


Mary Shank Rockman

Principal and CEO, MSR Communications

Mary Shank Rockman, Principal and CEO, MSR Communications

“Clients need a regional customer and/or partner to appear relevant in the American landscape. Before you launch in the US, test your messaging with a regional analyst or reporter. You may have a great international customer list, but if you do not have US customers with challenges specific to this geo, then influencers may not care. You need a customer that is prepared to be a poster child for your company. If you don’t have regional customers, then you will need to be prepared to invest more in your own branded content.”




So there you have it, and here are my top 10 distilled tips for European companies looking to enter San Francisco or Silicon Valley:

  1. Be clear on why want to enter Silicon Valley and San Francisco, and what you bring that isn’t already there
  2. Do your research and map the competitive landscape
  3. Understand the media, influencer and analyst environment and be surgical in targeting the top 5-10 people
  4. Develop a local approach to positioning yourself and your business
  5. Consider what groundwork and pre-launch testing you can do
  6. Investigate, become involved in, and bring something to your target communities
  7. People will offer help, so be clear with people on what they can do for you and reciprocate
  8. Don’t play off your European roots
  9. Evolve to a global and US positioning and then localise it further to make it resonant to a San Franciscan and Silicon Valley audience
  10. Make sure you have the right people with the right networks on board as employees and/or suppliers