Foreign Power

Charting A Road Map

According to Huard, interest in American companies is highest in the United Kingdom, Germany and the advanced economies of the Pacific Rim, such as Japan and Malaysia. "These countries have many large businesses that are well-established and forward-looking," says Huard, "but they do not necessarily have the infrastructure to support the growing [entrepreneurial] companies that are so commonplace [in the United States]."

Moreover, Huard adds that in many of these countries, consensus and the status quo rule, not the inventor or engineer with unconventional ideas that lead to new products and services. Accordingly, he says, it's unlikely a surge in entrepreneurship will occur any time soon to detract from the interest in American entrepreneurial companies.

What do you need to raise capital overseas? Key requirements, says Huard, are products or services that are universal in appeal but for which, at least initially, there is a specific target or clientele. For instance, while InterVest has the potential to affect every investor on the face of the earth, Fondren was able to communicate to Huard highly specific organizations that would be able to use the technology--namely, bond trading organizations throughout continental Europe.

Huard counsels entrepreneurs to avoid the temptation of trying to locate and close a deal with overseas investors yourself. "Time and expense aside--both of which are significant--if you don't know your way around," he cautions, "you could find yourself closing doors that would otherwise be open to you had they been approached correctly."

Fondren is even more emphatic on this point, saying, in effect, don't try this at home without the assistance of a qualified professional. "It's still a wild world out there," he says. "Without a professional who knows the ropes, you could quickly find yourself lost and in trouble."

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This article was originally published in the February 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Foreign Power.

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