For European startups, the US is still the land of opportunity


With under 2 million people, a landmass that’s half the size of Greece, and a recent history of communist rule, Latvia doesn’t have textbook foundations for building world-leading businesses. But building a world-leading business is exactly what Latvia’s Printful did. In 2021, the on-demand printing startup was valued at over $1 billion, making it the country’s first-ever unicorn.

To reach the local landmark, Printful took an international route. But rather than focus on its home continent of Europe, the company set its sights on the US.

“We wanted to make something big — and to this day, there is no bigger market than the United States for technology companies,” Davis Siksnans, the co-founder and former CEO of Printful, told TNW at the TechChill conference in Riga, Latvia, earlier this year. 

“We’re glad that we had some people from Latvia who were willing to uproot themselves and move to the United States and work there on the ground.”

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It’s a move that Hussein Kanji wants more European entrepreneurs to make. As a partner at Hoxton Ventures, a VC investor based in London, Kanji has backed some of the continent’s most successful startups, including the unicorns Deliveroo and Darktrace. 

His firm selects these businesses because it believes they can become category-defining companies. To reach this level, Kanji wants more founders to look stateside.

“Once you’ve built something and validated that it’s actually good relative to its peers, you should be focused on the US market as early as possible — you’re going to build a bigger company,” Kanji told TNW.

As a Stanford University graduate who’s worked for both startups and tech giants in the United States, Kanji has extensive experience with the rewards on offer in the country. He also has the data to substantiate his views. In new research, Hoxton Ventures found that nearly all European startups with over $500mn in revenue have succeeded by winning the US market. 

Slide showing European startups that achieved success in the US