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On Long Island, Startups Emphasize Opportunities to Trade at Startup Global Event Hosted by U.S. Department of Commerce and Global Innovation Forum

November 4, 2016

Elizabeth Montaquila is a Communications Specialist at International Trade Administration

On October 27, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service, NFTC’s Global Innovation Forum (GIF), Small Business Administration and Stony Brook University co-hosted Startup Global Long Island, an event to help startups launch their products or services in international markets. The hosts welcomed over 80 guests, including startup founders in industries from health-tech to agribusiness.

The event featured panels on the global market outlook for startups, intellectual property protection and crafting an international business strategy – all designed to prepare entrepreneurs to engage in international markets and plan for potential challenges.

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Michelle Gillette-Kelly, owner of Ms. Michelle’s gluten free cookies, talks about how she started her company and is now focusing on entering new global markets, with the help of the Commercial Service.

Jake Colvin, Executive Director of GIF, led a discussion on the path to going global, highlighting that, “for all of the anxiety we hear on the campaign trail about trade, the reality is that startups and small businesses today are naturally global.” He continued, “the Internet makes it easy to leverage global markets to support local businesses and jobs.”

During the discussion, Michelle Gillette-Kelly, the owner of Ms. Michelle’s, a gluten-free cookie company, spoke about her startup’s global journey during the first panel on the global outlook for startups. She said, “With my brick-and-mortar bakery, I realized I wasn’t reaching enough people, so I decided to go into manufacturing and sell internationally. Using www.trade.gov I found people at the U.S. Commercial Service who helped me meet European buyers directly to find out which countries might be interested in gluten-free cookies. I am now targeting Canada, the Netherlands and Italy as my first markets and I hope to be exporting soon.”

During the panel on intellectual property protection, IP trade and legal specialists outlined the different forms of IP protection, offered guidelines on when they should be used, and warned against failing to adequately protect IP in international settings. “It’s important to pursue trademarking of your brands and logos before you start printing or shipping anything, not only in the United States, but in all major markets you plan to export to, before you get a cease and desist letter,” cautioned George Likourezos, Intellectual Property Counsel at law firm Carter, Deluca, Farrell & Schmidt.

Dr. Satya Sharma, the Executive Director of the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) at Stony Brook University, led the final panel of the day on resources available to startups to go global and develop an international business strategy. The panelists emphasized that free resources are available from local, state and federal government agencies, such as market entry research, business planning and financing.

The event was a part of the Startup Global initiative, an ongoing partnership between GIF and the Commerce Department to help entrepreneurs think globally from Day One, which has held similar events around the country including in New York City, Seattle, Nashville and Washington, DC.

The day concluded with key takeaways from the day and a look forward. “We want the next administration to know what has and hasn’t worked for startups and to remove any obstacles that might prevent a U.S. company from being competitive. We welcome startups to work with all the public sector resources represented here today, and let us know how we can improve,” noted Josh Mandell, Senior Adviser for Innovation and Competitiveness at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

About the Global Innovation Forum

The Global Innovation Forum is a nonprofit startup that connects entrepreneur, small business, development, and university communities with policymakers and select corporations to explore the opportunities and challenges of engaging in the global marketplace.  GIF serves as a hub for startup, university and development communities around the world to communicate with officials and corporations, discover public and private resources to help them succeed, and improve the public policy landscape to enable global innovation. GIF is a project of the 501(c)(3) National Foreign Trade Council Foundation.

For more information, contact: Kaveri Marathe, Deputy Director, Global Innovation Forum, Tel: (202) 464 2035, kaveri@globalinnovationforum.com

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