Nikhil Lasrado


Head of Partnerships

Nikhil leads Business Development and Partnerships at ECL, where he helps global founders access growth capital. Nikhil is a cross-border fintech veteran, having launched the first U.S. neobank in India, and grown an international multi-currency loan book from $40 M to $100 M. He lives in Bangalore with his spouse and two Frenchie pugs.

Unlocking the US Market: A Guide for Indian SaaS Founders

October 23, 2023

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Every year, the SaaSBoomi Caravan gathers over 200 Indian SaaS startup founders for a week of workshops, networking, and meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area. Given Efficient Capital Labs’ significant Indian customer base, we were excited to be a part of the 2023 Caravan. ECL’s CEO Kaustav Das and Head of Partnerships Nikhil Lasrado attended. 

A major theme was how Indian startups can succeed in the US market. Navigating a new geographic market can feel like walking through a maze.

Many Indian SaaS founders share your uncertainty about what steps to take—and what pitfalls to avoid—when trying to expand. Achieving Product-Market Fit (PMF) and planning operations in the US can be confusing. This confusion isn't just frustrating; it's a roadblock that can seriously hinder your business growth. 

This blog is a roadmap. In it, we share learnings from the Caravan, as well as what we have learned here at ECL, funding global founders including for expansion to new markets. We'll explain the journey by sharing the top 5 things you absolutely need to know to successfully unlock the US market. Let's dive in.

5 Key Strategies To Achieve Success In The US as a SaaS Founder

1. Thinking Globally from Day One

While local success is admirable, every startup ultimately aims for global scale. Seasoned entrepreneurs agree that incorporating and launching internationally from day one is a strategic must for worldwide growth.

Early design partners across regions act as advisors, lending insights to optimize products and positioning for their markets. For example, imagine a software startup that partners with initial users in the UK, Australia, and Brazil.

The UK users provide feedback to polish the UI text and humor for British audiences. Brazilian testers guide adapting colors and imagery to align with local expectations. And the Australian partners highlight feature gaps compared to leading solutions in the region.  

Swapnil Shinde, the co-founder of Zeni, a Series B SaaS startup offering a finance operations platform, co-hosted a session at the Caravan. Shinde advised that as startups grow from local to global they should consider how they move from founder-led sales to product led growth (PLG). This includes choosing a new sales motion at each different stage of growth, and allocating marketing budgets to a mix of online and offline initiatives globally.

By collaborating with early users across diverse markets and considering their international growth plan, startups gain perspectives to refine international appeal. Prioritizing global thinking from the start allows Indian innovation to thrive worldwide.

2. Making Good Local Sales Hires

Hiring the right salespeople is crucial. According to SaaSBoomi volunteer and serial entrepreneur Vinod Muthukrishnan (sold his last startup to Cisco), most SaaS founders from India flounder when it comes to their first sales hire in the US. A key mistake they make is hiring based solely on past performance exceeding quotas at late stage firms. This trait is rarely transferable. Rather than focusing just on these metrics, look for adaptable skills and cultural fit.

For example, imagine a startup that hired X based solely on her track record exceeding quotas at an established firm - with fixed processes, training programs and an existing pool of leads. However, X struggled to adapt to the ambiguity of a startup environment. She lacked the grit needed to sell their vision and value, and to find creative ways to generate leads from scratch.

On the other hand, hiring Y who had less experience but more resilience allowed their startup to thrive. Y embraced startup life and persevered through challenges, driving sales through tenacity and creative problem-solving.

The lesson is to hire based on potential and mindset over just pedigree. Assess adaptability, initiative and startup values alignment.

Moreover, tailor your sales approach to each stage of growth. In early phases, hands-on selling to close deals may be suitable. But as you scale, transitioning to self-serve models and product-led growth allows reach to more customers.

Remain flexible to adapt your sales strategy to the needs of each growth phase. With the right sales hires and evolving tactics, Indian SaaS can unlock American markets.

3. Having a Funding Plan

Expanding globally requires upfront costs before you generate revenue. For example, imagine a startup founder is looking to enter the US market. They would need to make significant investments in marketing, product localization, and hiring before earning their first revenues.

As a CEO, you need a strategic funding plan to fuel global growth. One option built specifically for SaaS companies is Revenue-Based Financing (RBF). This form of finance allows you to receive cash upfront, on the basis of your annual recurring revenue. It enables you to invest in growth without diluting your equity. Further, RBF is available at much shorter notice, compared to venture funding or bank loans.

Efficient Capital Labs can be a valuable partner for you here. We can provide up to $1.5 million in funding to businesses within 3 days from application. We fund SaaS startups out of our own $100 M debt facility, and charge a transparent fee of 10-12%. RBF provides you with financial agility to act quickly when opportunities arise abroad.

In summary, smart funding unlocks global growth. For SaaS startups with international revenue traction, flexible and customized financing allows you to invest in the future without sacrificing equity control. The right funding plan turns your worldwide reach from dream to reality.

4. Understand Local User Expectations

When entering a new market, you need to research local user expectations around your product category. Don't assume your existing features or workflows will automatically translate.

For example, social media usage patterns differ significantly between India and the US. Indian users may appreciate more posts from their social networks, while Americans may prefer more curated content. Take the time to analyze user behavior and adjust accordingly for better results in terms of your efforts.

The same applies for UI design. Adopting local interface trends can help build intuitive familiarity. If hamburger menus are common in your new target country, leveraging that pattern even if it's not typical in your home market could improve usability.

The goal is to understand the unique needs and preferences of your new market's users. Customizing the experience while keeping the core product value proposition consistent is key.

5. Experiment with Pricing Strategies

Entering new markets means you need to reevaluate pricing approaches. Sticking to a one-size-fits-all model may or may not generate favorable results for you across different countries and cultures. Be prepared to test and tailor pricing for each new expansion.

For example, imagine a virtual event platform seeing great traction using per-event pricing in India. But after expanding in the US, the company realizes that model may not generate revenue there.

In some markets, monthly or annual subscriptions work better based on local promotional norms. In others, free plans with revenue sharing on ticket sales might be preferred.

Rather than assuming that existing pricing will convert, there is a need to test multiple models per market via A/B testing. The results reveal that differentiated pricing optimized for each region's expectations drives highest adoption and revenue.

At the Caravan, serial entrepreneur and GM of Demandbase, Meetul Shah, stressed that Indian SaaS firms entering the US Market should steer clear of playing the low-price game (which is inevitably a race to the bottom). This is despite the economies of driving product development and engineering from India. Rather, the sustainable approach is to offer more and better features at the same pricing as established US counterparts. 

The key takeaway is to research the competitive landscape and buyer preferences while entering any new market. Leverage analytics and experiments to validate the best pricing approach instead of a one-size-fits-all model.

Localized pricing demonstrates understanding of what each market will bear and values. Being adaptable and data-driven allows startups to maximize monetization across borders. Pricing flexibility is crucial when pursuing global product-market fit.

Wrapping Up

Two pivotal takeaways shape your US market entry: global thinking and strategic funding. Efficient Capital Labs (ECL) specializes in the latter, offering tailored financial solutions to fuel your US expansion. 

With Revenue-Based Financing, ECL provides the financial agility you need. Don't navigate this journey alone; contact the Efficient Capital Labs team today for a customized funding plan at

Grow your business, with Efficient Capital

Get in touch