Exporters who achieved business success in international markets offered valuable insights to U.S. entrepreneurs hoping to export their technology products. At this year’s 2023 National Small Business Exporter Summit, a panel discussed their experiences and advice during the “Expanding Across Borders: Tech Companies & International Sales” session.
Robert Bowen, Export & Trade Compliance Counsel with ServiceNow, Inc. had great advice for businesses looking to expand into foreign markets. He said before trying to export anything, be sure to properly classify all your products, including hardware, software and intangible technology, as classification may differ from methods used in the United States. He advised becoming familiar with the Export Administrations Regulations (EAR) to help classify commercial items. The EAR offers free videos and other training to help those seeking more knowledge of exporting.
Advice to entrepreneurs hoping to export:
- Classify products properly according to EAR regulations
- Know your customer and how they will use your product
- Be aware of compliance issues for tech platforms in various countries
- Use encryption to prevent hacking when exporting software
- Build a demand for your technology through education
- Develop local partnerships with those who understand local markets
Other advice Robert provided to technology entrepreneurs was to know your customers and know where your items are going after they arrive in another country. Ask yourself who users of your technology are and how end users will use your product. He recommended creating a way for people to access your product and information about your product, specifically mentioning the need to build low- or no-code solutions.
The panelists discussed some of their own experiences in adapting to export challenges. Chris Light, CEO & Founder of E-Livestock Global LLC, needed to develop his own tag because customs officials did not know what to do with his livestock product. He also took steps to repurpose one of his retail items due to frequency issues in the European Union and other places. He pivoted to creating a new item for small famers when issues with blockchain technology occurred.
Dheeraj Kulshrestha, CEO & President of Flairsoft Ltd., took steps to encrypt software he was exporting to negate risk of being hacked. He did the pilot work to prove that the technology would work in specific countries outside of the U.S. As a member of various international organizations, he has been able to develop partnerships with local markets for export.
The International Trade Administration website provides information to assist U.S. businesses including research on foreign markets, lists of customs regulations for specific countries, export events and more.