World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) works directly with companies free of charge to help them expand internationally and grow in San Diego, supported by San Diego Regional EDC’s nearly 200 private company and public agency investors. Since 2015, WTCSD’s MetroConnect export accelerator has assisted 95 San Diego companies in turning $890,000 in export grants into $97 million in new international sales, 543 new international contracts, and 32 new offices around the world.
We sat down with Melinda Burn, vice president of strategic marketing for MetroConnect VI finalist Solecta, to discuss the company’s membrane separation technologies and recent international growth through its time in MetroConnect.
Tell us about Solecta and its mission.
Solecta Inc., based in Oceanside, California, is a leader in membrane separation technologies with a unique go-to-market strategy focused on rapid customer-centric innovation, deep domain process expertise, and value delivery. With our proprietary membrane and element design and manufacturing capabilities, we develop and deploy novel and critical separation products and technologies that help our clients optimize yield, improve purification, and reduce water and energy usage.
Why did you apply to be in MetroConnect?
Solecta applied to be in MetroConnect to leverage the program’s resources and expertise in international trade to enable global expansion, tap into new markets, and increase revenue opportunities. Through the program, we hoped to establish valuable networking connections and gain insights into navigating the complexities of international export compliance and regulations.
How did MetroConnect help your company?
MetroConnect helped Solecta by providing grants that assisted with increasing and improving digital marketing activities and advancing our global commercial go-to-market strategy. In addition, through MetroConnect and its partners, we were able to apply for and be awarded a grant from the California State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). Since joining the MetroConnect program, Solecta has grown its international presence, resulting in increased revenue and brand recognition. We have expanded our workforce in Europe, allowing us to better serve our clients in the region.
What is on the horizon for Solecta’s international growth?
Through MetroConnect’s extensive network and resources, such as the STEP grant, we have been able to reach prospective clients in new regions and navigate the complexities of the global regulatory landscapes to enter new geographic markets. Our ultimate goal is to create more connections and grow our strategic partnerships in various regions through the MetroConnect network to enable the expansion of our international business and grow our manufacturing and R&D footprint in the greater San Diego area. The comprehensive resources provided by the MetroConnect program will help us deliver even more value to our clients as a top industry leader.
What advice would you give to companies interested in growing internationally and participating in MetroConnect?
To successfully expand globally, a company must conduct thorough market research to comprehend the target markets, cultural nuances and competitive landscape. Developing a solid market entry strategy that considers local regulations, distribution channels and customer preferences is essential. Moreover, utilizing established networks like MetroConnect can provide valuable resources, connections, and insights to ensure successful expansion efforts.
Your turn: Grow your international sales with MetroConnect, too!
Like Solecta, apply to join MetroConnect VII, and receive an export grant, expert advising, workshops, regional mentors, and more.
The application takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
Plus: Learn how five cohorts of 80 MetroConnect alumni, including Dr. Bronner’s, Blue Sky Network, EDDY Pump, and White Labs, leveraged the program to drive 63 percent average export growth and 40 percent average revenue growth.