Hutzpah or faux pas? Why CAGE distance important for overseas cyber products launching in the US

Wiki — Airport Terminal

I made the following quick observations in the context of cybersecurity startups, especially those from Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel looking to enter the world’s largest cybersecurity market in the US.

CAGE distance is a short-hand for the Cultural, Administrative, Geographic, and Economic distances that exist between countries.

Pretty much everyone in the cyber industry has the cool watch, dope shirt, and a story of how great they were at that legacy outfit with a billion customers to farm, the big name school, the secret squirrel agency, or elite military unit, so what else matters?

Customers tend to care abut what you can do for them that they don’t already have in house and how you can back up all those near identical claims that every cyber company makes.

Are your US team perceived as confident and filled with hutzpah, or as arrogant clowns and lacking EQ (emotional intelligence)?

Do your prospects agree that you have superiority in solution, price, and reputation?

What US certifications and paying reference proof points do you have?

Do you assume that what sells in Ottawa, London, or Tel Aviv will automatically be a fit here?

Are all meetings early in the morning or late at night?

Is Sunday a work day?

Are you perhaps burning out US staff and customers with odd business practices and hourly status checks?

What exposure do you have to team-based, complex, and long hunting sales cycles here compared to simple farming deals back home where you know the execs personally?

Getting to the technical yes is just the first part — when will you actually be paid? What are the contracting, certification, or FOCI legal barriers?


These are just personal thoughts based on years of working with hot US and overseas cybersecurity companies expanding in the US market. The successful ones are those that have closed that CAGE gap.

Originally published at on September 18, 2020.



Simon Hartley - Quantum, Cybersecurity, Mobility

Seasoned software executive with deep experience in scaling emerging and disruptive technologies.