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Startup Global Seminar Pilot Visits Nashville

July 13, 2015

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This is a guest blog by Clark Buckner, a full time podcaster hosting and producing The Nashville Entrepreneurship Story Podcast.

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center recently hosted the nation’s second Startup Global Seminar. Each seminar is driven by local organizers and focuses on the unique needs of the city’s entrepreneurs. The goal is to encourage startups to export internationally and make the process simple and accessible. Josh Mandell, Senior Advisor for Innovation and Competitiveness at the United States Department of Commerce, refers to startups as the “lifeblood of our economy,” yet many do not initially consider going global or are confused by the process. Startup Global began as the Department of Commerce’s solution to making government resources available to startups and entrepreneurs.

A big way companies can begin to export is by connecting with the resources established locally and federally through the Department of Commerce. Pat Kirwan, Director of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Secretariat, said, “When companies run into problems, they tend to talk to either a banker, an accountant, a lawyer, or their economic development organization that they’ve been dealing with. In this case, it would be the Nashville Entrepreneurship Center, right? So that’s their first stop, but the fact that those folks are plugged into this wider community of the state, and federal resources, all of the sudden the company has access to an enormous amount of resource help…companies have access to diplomats in over 70 countries.”

Michael Ralsky, President of GlobalGR, discussed how he assisted a motor vehicle client in finding a business partner in Vietnam. The Department of Commerce contacted Vietnam’s U.S. Embassy, which conducted a search that yielded 11 potential business partners. That client is now established in Vietnam and has sold more than 500 motor vehicles as a result. He says the best way for new businesses to move into exports is to “call up [the local export assistance center] office, tell them what country you’re interested in exporting, and they will then turn around and provide you with a menu of services that they can help you with, to help you get exporting.”

As for the startups themselves, the key to innovation, according to David Green, the “1st Enterprise Entrepreneur” at Schneider Electric, is to train employees “from the day they come in the building” in the entrepreneurial mindset. An innovative team is essential to the success of his project, Nashville-based Connected Home. This focus on innovation, David says, is key to the survival and adaptation of modern day businesses. When asked if he can train innovation, he says, “it’s happened – right here in these very walls.”

In the modern age of global digital commerce, access to international markets is key to the success of a growing business. To learn more about resources available, contact one of 107 local export assistance centers around the country or visit us on the web.

Listen to the interviews from Nashville Startup Global Seminar

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