Exporting Tools and Resources for New Ventures
Last Friday, I was attending a Venture Execution workshop given by Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) through the EPFL VentureLab. The workshop was addressed to startups willing to export and expand on foreign markets. Besides the fact that it was nice to get in touch with founders of very interesting startups (including TraceGolf, Morphotonix, and ServiceAtHome.com), there are a couple of things worth keeping in mind from the presentation of S-GE and the cases of the startups that were present. Among these, a couple of tools have been mentioned to help companies willing to go international at early stage of development. Let me briefly present them to you and add some others on top of that!
1 – Identify export markets: S-GE’s Market Navigator
Switzerland Global Enterprise provides a few tools online that can help you shape your internationalization strategy (especially for Swiss companies). This starts with the Market Navigator, which helps you select a proper market for your expansion. Okay, it is no rocket science, but it can still give you an interesting overview of the best market for your business depending on the relevance and weight of cultural, demographic, geographic, administrative, economic and political criteria for you. If it looks like the famous Doing Business Index or the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom (which are, by the way, very interesting tools to assess foreign markets as well), the tool actually includes criteria related to Swiss exports/imports relations and takes data mainly from NationMaster and… the CIA. It is a good resource to have a quick overview on a market that could be a good fit for your product(s), especially if you are based in Switzerland!
2 – Check tariffs: Mendel-Online.com
Other interesting tool for future exporters: MendelOnline. This database enables users to know the tariff for a particular product exported from one selected country to another. The tool is not the most user-friendly, but it can very quickly give an insight on how much taxes will be applied to one product when crossing a given border. This is of course very useful, as in some cases products can be taxed at 100% rate.
3 – Understand Free Trade Agreements: S-GE’s Trade4Free
Switzerland Global Enterprise also provides Trade4Free. This tool allows to understand the potential benefits of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) for a given product. It will basically indicate if you can benefit from tariffs’ reduction from an FTA or not, and will guide exporters through the 6 steps to understand and take advantage of FTAs, taking into account the famous rule of origin.
4 – Assess demand and channels (online): Google Consumer Barometer
On the top of that, I would add a few other online tools that can really be helpful to my fellow entrepreneurs. As mentioned in a previous post, Google gives access to two tools that are relevant for international marketing and mainly for assessing market trends in an e-commerce perspective. The Global Market Finder indicates the number of searches for a keyword (product) in geographic markets, taking into account the language of the market. In the meantime, the Consumer Barometer shows the consumption trends and online purchasing behavior on selected product categories and geographic markets. Always interesting to assess demand and define your sales and marketing channels!
5 – Find trade partners: Novertur
Additionally, Novertur, as you know, can help you find trade partners on foreign markets thanks to its business matchmaking technology, just like a dating site would guide you to the right lover… A key step for your internationalization.
Time to take advantage of globalization!
Whether you are an experienced exporter, a born-global startup or a novice with international trade, those tools are useful to help you define your internationalization strategy. The business cases presented at this Venture Execution workshop have shown that the most important aspect when it comes to exporting is to define a very clear strategy emphasizing on the unique selling proposal of the company’s product. This strategy must also take into account all the possible marketing channels, the relevant trade partners to do business with and it must consider all the barriers to trade that might affect business processes as well as pricing.
With this in mind, the support of service providers such as S-GE or other trade promotion agencies and the connection to the right business partners, startups can take advantage of globalization as much as any established SME.