Looking to go global? Take this advice from 10 San Diego-based companies

Drug discovery is a global industry. In 2017, Solana Beach-based Scientist.com – a B2B marketplace for drug discovery – had seen increasing profits from Europe, and was looking to capture a piece of Japan’s $95 billion pharmaceutical industry – one of the largest in the world.

Entering any global market requires patience, persistence, and expertise. In Japan – with high costs associated with entry and multiple cultural difference – Scientist.com needed to do it the right way. This meant setting up a subsidiary, hiring a new employee, securing office space, and more.

Enter MetroConnect. MetroConnect is an export assistance program that provides San Diego based companies with the resources (including a $5,000 grant) they need to go global.

At the conclusion of the program, Scientist.com had successfully set up an office in Tokyo, hired a new employee, and developed multiple partnerships – making Japan one of its largest markets by international sales.

Scientist.com’s Solana Beach offices

The MetroConnect Program

In the program’s first four years, the World Trade Center San Diego team has worked with 65 companies to help them grow their international sales. In total, these companies have had an $85M net increase in exports and opened 18 new overseas facilities. As a result of this spike in international business, participating companies have created 267 new jobs in San Diego.

From breweries to software development to genomics and drones, MetroConnect companies reflect the diverse industries that make up our economy.

At the end of their time in the cohort, we ask every company the same thing: What advice would you give other companies looking to export?

And because we don’t want to hoard these pearls of wisdom, here’s what they said:

When going global, research is everything

  • “Do as much research as you can before launching any market. Get as much background on each importer as you can and use local resources to help with any questions or concerns. Know the requirements of each market to avoid any delays.” – Coronado Brewing (MetroConnect III)
  • Do your homework first and find the markets with the least barriers to entry (language, duties & registration fees, etc.) and highest potential in revenue.” –  Dr. Bronner’s (MetroConnect IV)
  • “Some markets require additional stipulations like extended warranties you have to account product in a different country.” – ROBO 3D (MetroConnect I)
  • “Identify a distributor who has physical presence in each country you wish to target, as this will ensure faster deployment” – Wearable Sensing (MetroConnect I)
  • “Go where your product is needed most and not necessarily where the biggest financial opportunity is. Your products will gain a bigger percentage of a smaller market share rather than a smaller percentage of a larger market share. This will bring stability and staying power to your products and your brand.” – ArcticZero (MetroConnect IV)

Learn from the locals, in San Diego and abroad

  • “Seek support early on and engage with professional networks to acquire the necessary knowledge, talent, and partnering for export assistance; approach trade organizations to help identify your target markets, and always be prepared to encounter obstacles” – Cypher Genomics, acquired by Human Longevity Inc (MetroConnect I)
  • “Just remember ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ so do not hesitate to ask the locals for assistance; every market is different, and many of their respective pitfalls can be avoided by listening to local knowledge.” – Scientist.com (MetroConnect IV)
  • “There are so many local companies exporting that we encourage you to talk to them – or us! Aligning yourself with companies who’ve already been successful at exporting will provide you with the proper resources, tips, contacts, and advice on what to do and what not to do.” – Urban Translations (MetroConnect III)

Be in it for the long haul

  • “Be persistent – it takes time and patience to establish effective working relationships in many markets, such as India and Japan, but that patience will pay off over the near and longer term.” – Tioga Research (MetroConnect III)
  • “Expect the sales cycle to take much longer than you are used to. Also, for any companies exporting physical goods, start the shipping paperwork as early as possible” – Planck Aerosystems (MetroConnect III)

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Interested in taking your company global? Applications for MetroConnect VI are open through November 15. Learn more about the requirements and benefits of this unique program.

Apply here

MetroConnect is proudly underwritten by Procopio and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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