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Navigating U.S. Business Terrain: Insights from Alberto Ponce González, Head of Georgia Tech's Soft Landings Program

26 Feb 2024 3:43 PM | SACC-Georgia (Administrator)

SACC GA sits down with Alberto Ponce González, a biomedical engineer born in Texas, raised in Mexico, and project manager of the Soft Landings program at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. With eight years of experience in business development, Alberto brings a problem-solving mindset to our discussion. As the leader of the Soft Landings program, he delves into the pivotal role its services play in facilitating the smooth entry of foreign companies into the U.S. market. Our conversation explores the Soft Landings program, the challenges it addresses, and the distinctive approach that distinguishes Georgia Tech, offering valuable perspectives for companies worldwide contemplating expansion into the dynamic U.S. business arena.

Why was the Soft Landings program created?

The Soft Landings program was created to assist foreign companies in entering the U.S. market seamlessly. It focuses on three main components: instructional aspects covering industry-specific topics, U.S. business culture, and market research; connecting companies with business leaders and industry experts; and providing access to the essential service providers needed to establish a business.

What are some of the prominent challenges foreign companies face trying to enter the U.S. market?

Foreign companies often face challenges in understanding the U.S. business culture and aligning their products or services to U.S. expectations. It's crucial to conduct thorough market research, customer discovery, and address organizational readiness to make informed decisions about entering the market.

What is the cost for these services?

The Soft Landings program fee is $8,000 per company, which covers the entire seven-week program, including the immersion week. Travel and lodging expenses are not included. Our focus is on providing valuable skills, tools, and resources for companies exploring international expansion.

What type of businesses do you see more frequently coming to request your services? How do they find you/you find them?

We often work with tech, agriculture, health, and various other industries. Companies usually find us through partnerships with chambers of commerce, economic development agencies, or other organizations. They approach us with a group of companies interested in the Soft Landings program.

What sets Georgia Tech apart from others providing similar services?

Georgia Tech's Soft Landings program stands out due to our non-profit university status and emphasis capacity building. We assist companies at the stage where they may not have conducted formal market research, focusing on developing essential skills for international expansion. We are also part of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, which is Georgia Tech’s economic development unit. Being a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the largest and most comprehensive university-based, economic development organization in the U.S., gives Soft Landings clients access to complementary services that address their needs from manufacturing to startup support.

Have you had customers from Sweden?

As of now, I don't have specific information about companies from Sweden participating in the Soft Landings program. While there might have been companies from Northern Europe before my time, our program has engaged with companies from various regions, including Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

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The primary objective of SACC-Georgia is to promote an exchange of business, trade, investment, technology and culture between Sweden and the state of Georgia. SACC-Georgia is one of 19 regional chambers across the United States, cooperating under the umbrella of SACC-USA based in Washington, D.C.


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