Importing Companies to Boston

One of our focus areas is finding great entrepreneurs in other geographies – often overseas – and ‘importing’ them to Boston. Innovation happens across the globe, and valuable technologies don’t lose their commercial viability at geopolitical boundaries. The majority of our investments are in B2B companies, and when a promising foreign startup begins getting traction in their local B2B market, it’s no surprise that they want to start fishing where the fish are. At 128, the US has more companies in the Fortune 500 than any other nation (

But uprooting from a foreign market and transplanting to the US poses challenges that domestic startups rarely face. Employment law, accounting practices, legal entity transfer and formation, work visas, distributed teams and time zone differences, and simply navigating a new cultural environment can be distracting and nontrivial. With our investments like Acquia (Belgium), Codeship (Austria), and BlueConic (Netherlands), we have developed best practices to help founders and their teams relocate corporate headquarters to the Boston area and navigate these challenges. Doing so provides better access to capital, customers, strategic partners, advisors, employees, and, eventually, potential acquirers. It’s not that these foreign markets aren’t ‘good’ – they’re great in that they have spawned such promising companies – it’s just that the US, is, well, really big and full of the structural ingredients to build valuable, lasting companies.  

The answer to ‘why the US?’ is self evident, but the next question is, why Boston? We – Sigma Prime – are here, for one, which is important. But seriously, being able to meet regularly face-to-face is much more conducive to the provision of quick and actionable help from the board of directors. When a CEO can informally chat over coffee with their VC investors, our experience suggests this strengthens the continuity between formal board updates, and gives us more opportunities to be helpful with the ‘smaller stuff’ that might not otherwise elevate to the board level. And we believe there are several reasons why Boston specifically is the best place for these types of companies to set up their US presence. 

A handful of structural elements make Boston one of the best places for these types of companies to set up their US presence and grow rapidly and successfully: fantastic talent out of some of the top colleges and research universities in the nation (Harvard, MIT, and many others), a highly engaged and collaborative entrepreneur community (abuzz with participation in dozens of renowned incubators and accelerators, and hundreds of local technology meetup groups), plentiful angel and venture capital along with a VC culture dedicated to helping companies succeed (beyond just funding!), and last but not least - easy access and quick travel to customers and partners throughout the US, Europe and beyond. We aim to continue looking for foreign gems we can help introduce to this vibrant startup ecosystem - if you're the founder of one, don't be a stranger!