For small business owners, selling products in one’s own country is hard enough. So when a company is ready to enter a different market abroad, how do they know where to begin?
For one Israeli cohort, there’s help available through a program called MarketReach America.
Run by the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC), MarketReach America is a selective training program that will educate Israeli entrepreneurs on the finer points of entering the American market. This year’s class of about 15 to 20 people will come from the medical technology industry.
Barry Bogage, the longtime executive director of the MIDC, noticed a pattern for Israelis trying to enter the American market. They were, by and large, unfamiliar with American consumers. “We saw a common challenge,” he said. “How do you position your company? How do you position your technology?”
The result of those questions, MarketReach America, is inspired by I-Corps, a National Science Foundation program that encourages and teaches scientists to become entrepreneurs, an idea that Bogage admired.
After the application process ends in December and selections are made at the end of January, American trainers will travel to Israel to teach the selected entrepreneurs. They’ll learn more about how to sidestep avoidable mistakes for companies entering the U.S. market for the first time, with special attention paid to product features. That, Bogage says, has been a consistent issue for Israeli companies. “You don’t know if it’s just a better mouse trap, or if the market actually wants it,” he said.
Then, over a two-week period this upcoming May, those entrepreneurs will visit Maryland, where they’ll be introduced to potential customers. Though this year’s program will focus solely on medical technology — Maryland, like Israel, has an especially robust market in that area — Bogage hopes that a successful year will kick off an annual cycle of industries: cybersecurity, defense, e-commerce and more.
Bogage spoke to the JT from Israel, where he was looking for entrepreneurs who may be interested in taking part in the program.
“Our ultimate goal is job creation, in Maryland and Israel,” he said.