Heading South to Scale-up: How Nova Scotia companies are expanding in Boston
Monday, June 11, 2018
Living in a smaller province, Nova Scotia business owners know that finding clients and customers away from home is key for growth. But when it comes to exporting, figuring out where to begin and how to navigate a new business environment can be the biggest challenges. While doing research is helpful (and we can always help with our Trade Market Intelligence service), companies often hold off exporting, unsure how to actually enter new markets.
To help businesses through this critical business phase, Nova Scotia Business Inc. launched Scale-Up Hub Cambridge in 2017, a program designed to help Nova Scotia companies build an international presence and grow export capacity with a shared working space and in-market business development advisory services. Nova Scotia companies were selected as Scale-Up Hub champions and are actively pursuing opportunities.
“Cambridge turns out to be an amazing place for companies like MindSea to be. It’s a town steeped in science and technology – it’s everywhere. The start-up community is incredible in Massachusetts,” says Bill Wilson, Founder & CEO of MindSea, a Halifax-based mobile app design and development company.
“The connection between Massachusetts and Nova Scotia is great. It’s a great entry. Boston feels like a big, metropolitan Halifax and the level of support has been very surprising. People are always asking how they can help and everyone is genuinely there to see others succeed.”
Even with Europe and Asia receiving growing attention through Canada’s new and emerging trade agreements, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP), the US is still Nova Scotia’s largest trading partner. The US is our closest neighbour, both geographically and culturally, and by the sheer volume of potential customers alone, businesses can’t afford to ignore the American market.
Scale-up Hub gives companies access to an in-market business development consultant and collaborative working space for one year. Companies can use the Scale-up hub services to seek out B2B meetings, meet with potential partners, and drive export capacity. The goal is for companies to find new opportunities and sales in the Massachusetts area while using the program as a launching pad into the rest of the US.
Though NSBI’s partnership with MITEF - MIT Enterprise Forum – the Nova Scotia Scale-up Hub companies were invited to showcase their products and services at the organization’s annual event, Start-up Spotlight in Boston. Created for innovators, tech-minded entrepreneurs, and start-up leaders, the event provides the opportunity to demo products for a curated audience while networking with peers and potential investors.
Wilson has only positive reviews for the region. “We have been welcomed with open arms. We’ve met with many Canadian expats eager to see fellow Canadians do well in the region. There is a strong desire to work with Canadian companies.”
The real key to success for companies to enter the US? Wilson puts it simply. “Persistence. If you’re going into a new market – you’ve got to show up. You have no idea where your first deal is going to come from. But if you’re not there, it’s certainly not going to happen.”