Dr Jeff Cornwall

Like Selling Ice to Eskimos?

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: John Burke: Louisiana Caviar Company

The Louisiana Caviar Company, founded by John Burke, sells its product to customers in an unlikely foreign market: Russia.  Louisiana Caviar Company harvest its caviar from bowfin fish in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Swamp, which is the largest wetland in the U.S.  The company sells caviar with a Cajun twist, flavoring the delicacy with various Cajun spices.  The Russian market opened up due to efforts to ban caviar from the Caspian Sea in Russia.  Overfishing and pollution have endangered sturgeon fish, which are the traditional source of Russian caviar.  Louisiana Caviar Company exports 80 percent of its product, with half of its exports going to Russia.[i]

[i] “The Louisiana Caviar Company,” Faces of Trade, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, n.d. www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/legacy/international/europe/files/1207_FacesofTradeRussia_final.pdf.

Finding Global Markets for App


Aloompa is an app development business located in Nashville, Tennessee that specializes primarily in apps for music festivals.

Their first customer was the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.  The app includes a map the festival grounds, including the location of food vendors, bathrooms, retail spaces, and stage locations. It also includes bios of performers, audio samples of performers music, and reviews that can be pushed out to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

After growing to more than two-dozen music festivals in the U.S., Aloompa expanded to international festivals.  The first was the Playa del Carmen in Mexico.  The app for this festival is available in both English and Spanish.  Aloompa is quickly adding new festivals as customers in Asia, Europe and South America.

“As Aloompa expanded into the international market it has had to learn how to communicate across culture barriers and familiarize itself with a variety of business practices across the globe,” says Caleb Jones in Business Development for Aloompa. “For example, as we expanded we found it necessary to start our deals in the South American market a full month prior due to slower timelines.  As we move further into the international market it has given us an appreciation for the vast array of cultures that make up international commerce, and a great desire to continue business ventures abroad.”[i]

[i] Tyler Seymour and Caleb Jones, personal communication, May 23, 2014; Jamie McGee, “Pivot Point: Entrepreneurs find greater success with the unexpected,” Nashville Business Journal, March 1, 2013, www.bizjournals.com/nashville/print-edition/2013/03/01/pivot-point-entrepreneurs-find.html?page=all.

Franchises Finding International Niches


One of the more active regions for international franchising is Southeast Asia.  Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia and Laos are all seeing rapid growth in American franchise restaurants.  One of the most popular franchises is KFC. Kentucky Fried Chicken first came to Vietnam in 1997 through the vision of Singapore entrepreneur and franchisee Tony Chew.  When Chew opened the first KFC there was limited power supply, poor roads, an untrained workforce, and a weak business climate.  KFC Vietnam (KFCV) currently operates 140 restaurants and employees 4,000 workers.[i]

[i] Lan Anh Nguyen, “At the Front of Vietnam’s Food Queue,” Forbes, April 30, 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/lananhnguyen/2014/04/30/at-the-front-of-vietnams-food-queue/; John Vomhof Jr., “Franchise success stories in ASEAN countries,” HSBC Global Connections, January 2, 2014, https://globalconnections.hsbc.com/us/en/articles/franchise-success-stories-asean-countries</.