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For early-stage companies, exports can lead to growth

Memo to Wisconsin businesses from WEDC: If you are considering selling your products or services in other countries, come to us first for help and support.

Sinnott

Companies ready to pitch their products in foreign markets should research their options just as they did before starting their businesses–and WEDC can provide valuable insights and connections, Katy Sinnott, WEDC vice president of global trade and investment, told a session at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in Madison last week.

She said WEDC helps companies of all sizes, many of them with fewer than 50 employees.

“If you’re not sure where to export, we encourage you to take advantage of ExporTech, an export strategy development seminar. If you are considering multiple markets and need help deciding, we can bring in all of our market representatives and we can help you think strategically: what are your best markets?” Sinnott said.

WEDC has four market development directors on staff. “They are your first step,” she said. If your company is interested in selling products in Mexico, for example, WEDC has a market development director from Mexico who knows the market, has contacts there and can give advice on whether or not your product would appeal to consumers there.”

Among Wisconsin’s export achievements:

  • Wisconsin has the No. 1 results in ExporTech, a national export assistance program, in terms of the number of participants and the additional revenue it helped them to achieve. Within one year after completing the 12-week program, companies reported an average revenue impact of $900,000.
  • During the height of the pandemic in 2020, Wisconsin exports fell 30%, but by year-end, total exports were down only 5%. In 2021 through August, exports rose 20%.
  • Wisconsin has contracted consultants in 94 countries. They can help Wisconsin business leaders perform a market assessment or a partner search, and if necessary, advise on navigating government regulations.

In one such incident earlier this year, a large equipment manufacturer in Wisconsin was shipping a million-dollar product to Australia when Australia’s export regulations suddenly changed. Wisconsin’s trade representative helped the company obtain an exemption, allowing the shipment to proceed, Sinnott said.

WEDC has been holding virtual trade ventures during the pandemic. The next one, scheduled Dec. 6-17, will include more than 30 countries in Africa, followed by Mexico,  Feb. 19-26, 2022. In-person trade missions will restart later in 2022 with travel to Canada, followed by South Korea and Taiwan, and then Germany and Austria. Learn more about WEDC Global Trade Ventures.

WEDC offers subsidies to help participants with the cost and gives them a personalized experience. “We provide you with your own interpreter who goes with you to every single meeting to let you know if ‘yes’ means yes, ‘yes’ means maybe or ‘yes’ means no,” she said.

Another advantage of the trade trips is that Wisconsin company leaders meet each other. “I’ve had so many deals come out of these trade ventures between one Wisconsin company and another,” Sinnott said.

The Early Stage Symposium was presented by the Wisconsin Technology Council and the Wisconsin Healthcare Business Forum.