Are You Ready to Fly? (Soft Landings)

By Esther Vargas

Expanding into a new market is a challenging process for any company, and this is no exception even for our Soft Landing clients who have built thriving businesses in their home countries. Given the experience that the foreign CEO and their team have gained from running a sustainably profitable business in their country, one might assume that expanding into a new market would be relatively straightforward and seamless. However, the reality is that expanding into a new market like the US requires a different set of skills, knowledge, and resources.

One of the biggest hurdles that we frequently see our Soft Landings companies face is adapting their (otherwise successful) business model to meet the needs of the US market. It is common for Soft Landing CEOs to assume that what worked in their home market will work in the US, only to realize that the US market is much more complex and competitive than they had anticipated. Among other challenges, the cultural differences often prove to be more significant than expected, as is navigating the complex legal and financial requirements of the US market, and finding the right talent to support US growth.

Just as a young bird needs a safe and supportive environment to learn to fly, Soft Landing clients need a supportive environment to expand their business into new markets. Some incubators offer support and guidance to assist foreign CEOs with a successful soft landing transition.

It is a little-known fact that the UCF Business Incubation Program (UCFBIP) opened its doors in 1999 with 6 Soft Landing clients. Since then, we have continued to successfully assist many technology-based Soft Landing clients with their US expansion or relocation by providing them with a range of services to help them navigate the challenges of expanding into the US market.

With the wealth of entrepreneurial support and resources in Central Florida, there is no need to go it alone. By working with any of these resources, Soft Landing clients can benefit from the range of services provided and build successful businesses that can compete and succeed in the US market.

The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training, and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has provided vital business development resources resulting in over 300 local startup companies reaching their potential faster and graduating into the community where they continue to grow and positively impact the local economy.

With eight facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Kissimmee, Orlando, and Winter Springs. For the 2017/2018 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 6,725 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned more than $12.00 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program. In addition, for every $1.00 of public investment, the firms also produced $118 of additional regional GDP and $226 of regional sales. For more information, visit