Eric Murray is the president and CEO of Temporal Power – a Mississauga-based clean technology company that specializes in the development of high-performance energy storage.
Reflecting on his extensive business experience, Eric Murray shared the following insights with ExportWise:
- Get to know Canada’s trade commissioners and engage them early to understand the lay of the land and the risks in a specific region. Trade Commissioners are part of Global Affairs who have both domestic resources close to Canadian manufacturers and Trade Commissioners distributed around the world. They are well-connected individuals who understand the needs of business and the uniqueness of local markets. In the three Canadian tech companies I’ve been involved in, I’ve been universally impressed by the calibre of people in Global Affairs. Having the Trade Commissioners share their knowledge puts you in a position to approach EDC with a clear understanding of the playing field and what the risks are.
- Don’t wait until the last minute. If you think you’ve got an opportunity and if you want to be an exporter, engage early with EDC because these are complex issues of a global nature and involve multiple stakeholders. Invariably, we uncover unexpected issues with every long-term cross-border contract we’ve been involved with and we’ve wanted time to address issues effectively.
- Start customer conversations with a clear understanding of your preferred contracting approach. EDC can help you understand potential pitfalls and potential requirements, which is crucial for shaping initial expectations. They can help early with what the right questions are and the right way to structure the deal so you don’t have to back-track or change your approach part way through the negotiation. Changing initial expectations or commitments is always challenging so a clear picture of how to make a project bankable, and how to succeed at the outset in a specific region is priceless.
- Relationships take time. People do business with people they trust so engage EDC early to build on a solid foundation. Cleantech deals are usually large deals and EDC’s first responsibility is to Canadian taxpayers.
- Be tenacious and persistent. The world is changing quickly and for those of us working in the emerging field of cleantech there are many elements of change to manage. You’re going to get no’s and you need to be resilient in the face of no, which isn’t always: “No” but more likely “not like that.” It’s up to you as the entrepreneur and exporter to come up with a solution that works for all stakeholders.