Dr Jeff Cornwall

Finding Global Markets for App

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Aloompa

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

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Tony Chew: KFC Vietnam

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</.

“My Name is Jim”

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Jim Greene: Richland, LLC

Richland, LLC , located in Pulaski, Tennessee, is an industrial service company that supplies, assembles, fabricates, installs, paints, sandblasts and tests equipment that involves mechanical or electrical components.

Richland has contracts with TSKE Tsukishima Kankyo Engineering Ltd., a Japanese company, and Moritani, a German company.  Tsukishima Kankyo and Moritani engage in many joint projects around the globe. Richland partnered with the two companies in a wastewater project for a client in Dubai that was developing a recreation area and golf course for a multinational community in Dubai.  Richland provided manufacturing and test assembly for the water and wastewater treatment equipment that was shipped to Dubai.

Jim Greene, a partner and president of Richland, LLC, admits that the language barrier can be difficult when dealing with partners from two different countries working for a client in another part of the world.  “Foreign nationals appreciate it when you attempt to learn their language,” says Green, “Even if it is only ‘My name is Jim and welcome to Richland, LLC.’”[i]


[i] Jim Greene, personal communication, May 22, 2014.

Global Expansion Leads to New Product Ideas

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Wood Stone Ovens

Wood Stone Ovens, based in Bellingham, Washington, sells its restaurant cooking equipment to customers in more than 75 countries.

The company realized an unexpected benefit from its international sales activities.  As its sales team traveled to meet with customers around the globe, they came back with many new product ideas.

Exports account for 25 percent of Wood Stone Ovens annual revenues.[i]



[i] “Our Company,” Wood Stone Ovens, n.d., http://woodstone-corp.com/about/our-company; “Wood Stone Ovens,” Export Washingon, 2012, www.exportwashington.com/why-export/success-stories/Wood-Stone-Ovens/Pages/default.aspx.

Cultural Strategy Key in Global Sourcing

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Nuvar

Nuvar Incorporated, located in Holland, Michigan, develops and designs office furniture and healthcare products.  Nuvar’s in-house engineering assists its customers with product development and design.

Through a global network of manufacturing suppliers, Nuvar sources component part manufacturing.  Nuvar sources from Europe (France, Germany, and Italy), Asia (China, Taiwan, and Malaysia) and North America (Mexico and Canada).  Parts are then shipped to their facilities in Michigan, where they are assembled, packaged and shipped to the final customer.

Nuvar Assembly

(Nuvar Assembly Plant)

Although Nuvar does not ship to international cutomers, its customers ship around the globe.  “We still deal with the repercussions of dealing internationally,” says Scott Kuyper, International Supply Chain Lead at Nuvar.  “Different markets may have different requirements for testing, standards, etc. Since we’re involved with product development, we really see this first hand.”

With the breadth of international relationships, Nuvar has learned the importance of being open minded and flexible when it comes to differences in culture strategy and economies of their various global partners.[i]


[i] Scott Kuyper, personal communication, May 21, 2014.

Small Tech Company Finds Global Markets

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: William Haynes: Sabai Technology

After William Haynes was laid off during the financial crisis, he started Sabai Technology, a company based in Simpsonville, South Carolina, that develops and sells wireless routers and network equipment, with himself as the sole employee.

Initially, Haynes sold only to domestic customers until one of his customers, Strong VPN, opened the door to orders from companies in China. International sales took off after people involved in an Egyptian uprising discovered that Sabai Technology’s wireless routers could send and receive information that was blocked by government filters.

Haynes began working with the U.S. Commercial Service and U.S. Export Assistance Centers, which led him to advertise his products in Commercial News USA, a publication that goes to more than 400,000 readers in 178 countries.

Today, international sales account for 80 percent of Sabai Technology’s sales, and the company, which exports to 120 countries, has grown to 14 employees. Haynes uses superior customer service and speedy delivery to set his company apart from the competition, most of which are much larger businesses.[i]



[i] Jenny Munro, “World Beats Path to Powers’ Door,” Greenville News, January 18, 2009, p. 1E; “Sabai Technolocy,” CNN iReport, September 30, 2013, http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1041791.

Alternative Financing for International Sales

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILE: Lisa Howlett: Auburn Leather Company

Auburn Leather Company, located in Auburn, Kentucky, manufacturers leather laces for footwear and sporting equipment.

Auburn Leather expanded its international sales with the help of a small business insurance policy received from Ex-Im Bank assigns and insures Auburn Leather’s export accounts receivable.  This insurance gives lenders the confidence to provide working capital financing.

Growth in international sales created more than 30 new jobs at Auburn Leather and increased its annual revenues from $7.4 million to more than $11 million. Export sales have grown from 33% of total sales to 45%.  Auburn Leather’s President, Lisa Howlett, says that this growth has created 20 new jobs at her company.[i]



[i] “Kentucky Lace Company Boosts Sales and Increases Workforce with Ex-Im Bank Financing,” Export-Import Bank of the United States, n.d., www.exim.gov/about/whatwedo/successstories/Auburn-Leather-Company.cfm.