Phil Poetker is the inventor of the Nutrigrill – an indoor barbeque that ships all over the world.
1. What was your first export sale?
Our first export sale was made 28 months ago to Thailand, made possible in part by the placement of Facebook pictures in strategic markets in a number foreign countries. These produced “likes” and requests of small sales and resulted in slightly larger orders. It kept on snowballing and grew to more, larger sales. After Thailand, we sold to the U.K. and Switzerland.
2. How did that first export opportunity arise?
Digital media. An important aspect of launching a product such as this, with so many moving parts, is the importance of digital media representation, including Google, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and others. In fact, many of the people who called to order the product during the informational media test said they would go to the website to complete the sale. The digital media world allows us to expose the product to a much larger market continuously for a fraction of the cost.
3. When it comes to exports, what do you know now that you wish you knew then?
In the past two years we have discovered that Canadian-designed products are desired worldwide. The inevitable higher wholesale and retail costs are not as big an impediment has we anticipated. In fact, most of the countries where we have tested the Nutrigrill have accepted it at our wholesale pricing without significant discounts. Canadian-made or designed products are sought after because of the quality standards we have here at home.
4. How has the trading world changed since you started in business?
The world of trade and commerce is increasingly becoming smaller as markets are much more open to outside influences and marketing trends. This applies to both sides of buying and selling to and from import/export markets. The accepted use of digital advertising and promotion, not to mention the communication platforms such as Skype, Line or Viber, have positively affected trade relationships.
5. What is the #1 thing new SMEs need to know about export and trade?
The number one thing we feel that SMEs need to know about export and trade is that relationships are based on a personal understanding and not merely a surface business contact relationship. There is a Chinese saying: “The first time we meet we are strangers. The second time we meet we become friends. The third time, we do business.” This is an approach that is not as common in the North American business psyche and to understand and embrace this idea puts these companies in a much better place to do business in export markets.