At GoToMarketUSA, we help Nordic companies establish and grow in the U.S. market. Essentially, we are your Nordic team based in the U.S., with the experience and resources to develop and implement a hands-on strategy for your product or solution. Entering the U.S. market can a lot of the time be a complicated process, especially if you are not aware of the many differences and issues that can come with it. Having a partner or even a contact in the U.S. who has previously gone through the process and knows what the market looks like, could therefore save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Philip Siberg, a Swedish entrepreneur, CEO and Board Member within the medical technology and life science tech sectors, has gone through that process and led several ventures to global expansion. We interviewed him about his experience and what you can expect when setting up a company in the U.S.
To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and experience of doing business in the U.S.
I am a Swede, but have lived in the U.S. for quite a few years – two longer sessions in Orange County, California, and a few years in downtown Chicago. Beyond that, I have lived and worked in the UK and have had the fortune to work and travel quite extensively to many corners of the world. I’ve mainly worked in the Life Science field as an entrepreneur and CEO, running companies with innovative solutions in the cardiology, neurology, anesthesia and surgical space. I recently moved back to Sweden to Nasdaq-list Coala Life, a venture in the digital health and telecardiology space that I co-founded in 2015.
What steps led you to do business in the U.S.? In other words, why did you want to enter the U.S. market?
The U.S. is the largest medical device market in the world. The market can be defined in so many ways, but I have in recent years focused on developing and commercializing solutions for the over 100 million Americans with chronic diseases, the over 20 million Americans that undergo deep anesthesia and the over 30 million Americans that every year suffer from diffuse chest pains. The opportunities in the U.S. healthcare system are endless, yet so immensely complex to navigate. But, to please Life Science investors you need to make it in the U.S.
Largely, how do you proceed if you want to set up a company in the U.S.?
"I would say that setting up a company in the U.S. is relatively straightforward, but not without its complications. There are ways to do it yourself online but I would recommend using a lawyer to set up the paperwork and make sure that the bylaws are appropriate and filed correctly. Once that’s in place, you typically need more local filings in the states where you establish offices, and on top of that there is quite tedious paperwork for each state where you hire personnel. I have then mostly made use of local service providers to help with finance, insurances, HR, legal and logistics."
What would you say are the biggest challenges about entering the U.S. market from abroad?
"I would say that the toughest part of relocating to the U.S. is getting the work visa in place. There are multiple different paths and I have both used specialized immigration attorneys for help and also done it all by myself. The visa process involves a huge amount of documents, statements, rationales, recommendations and very, very clear justifications for why you should be granted a temporary work visa. During the darkest days of Covid in 2020, residents in the U.S. with temporary work visas could not travel in and out of US, but I managed by myself to work my way through administration via the local congressman, Washington D.C and later the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm to be declared a person of National Interest, and thereby get travel rights to Sweden. I did this without attorneys and just pure persistence."
"Another complex issue can be to get your goods into the U.S. if you, for example, are selling FDA-registered goods. Getting them in for the first time following FDA-approvals means that they will get stuck in customs and you then need good brokers and persistence to get them through the high barriers."
Finally, If you could do the whole process all over again, what would you do differently? What is your best advice for someone looking into starting that process?
"Dare to move faster and make sure to quickly adapt to the American ways of business, but at the same time, make use of your heritage. Swedes have a very high reputation in many aspects and I have made most use of our engineering and design skills. That helps provide credibility and the trust needed to commercially succeed – often without the need of major U.S. clinical studies or market justifications."