SUG NYC banner

On July 21, 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce, eBay, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Global Innovation Forum co-hosted a forum to explore the opportunities and challenges for startups and small businesses in the global marketplace and to discover resources to help globally-minded business succeed.

Startup, corporate and government leaders discussed —

  • How local startups are engaging globally and the challenges they face along the way;
  • How to identify and access U.S. Government and private sector resources to reach new markets;
  • How digital services and e-commerce-based businesses can gain exposure and traction abroad; and
  • How to protect intellectual property globally and navigate foreign regulations.

The Program

See who spoke and connect over social media

Welcome Addresses

Tekedra Mawakana, VP, Global Government Relations, eBay @globalpolcychic

Antwaun Griffin, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce @antwaun_griffin

Kathleen Warner, EVP, Center for Urban Innovation, NYCEDC @kathleendwarner

Fireside Chat

Julie Samuels, Executive Director, TechNYC @juliepsamuels

Julia Neznanova, Director, Friends of eBay @julianeznanova

Panel: Myth vs Reality—Can Startups Really Win in the Global Market?

Julia Neznanova, Director, Friends of eBay @julianeznanova

Sean Leow, Director of International, Kickstarter @seanleow

Tereza Nemessanyi, Entrepreneur in Residence @TerezaN

Matthew Perlman, Principal, Fenway Summer @FenwaySummer

Moderated by Jake Colvin, Executive Director, Global Innovation Forum @GlobaliForum

Panel: How Startups Leverage e‐Commerce and Digital Marketing Globally?

David Moreno, CEO, 232Tech @232Tech

Nikki Lawrence, Co‐Founder & CEO, Gleem & Co. @NikkiGLawrence

Olga Vidisheva, Founder & CEO, Shoptiques @OlgaVidisheva

Moderated by Justin Hendrix, Executive Director, NYC Media Lab @justinhendrix

Panel: IP Protection‐Navigating International Partnerships and Regulations

Stevan Mitchell, Director, Office of Intellectual Property Rights, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce @CommerceGov

Matt Gould, Executive Vice President, PACT US @gould1

Jeffrey M. Sears, Ph.D., J.D., Chief Patent Counsel, Columbia University @Columbia

Michael Hermann, Director of Licensing, Andy Warhol Foundation @MDaytonHermann

Moderated by Jess M. Collen, Partner, Collen IP @CollenIP

Panel: City, State and Federal Strategies & Programs for Encouraging Exports

Eleni D. Janis, Vice President & Director, NYCEDC @elenidjanis

Daniel Kadishson, Director of Economic Development, Mayor’s Office for International Affairs @Danny_Kad

Peter Sexton, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service NYC @USCommercialSvc

Moderated by Dr. Sam Natapoff, President, Empire Global Ventures

Key Takeaways & Closing Remarks

Ashley Zuelke, Sr. Advisor, Export Policy, Promotion & Strategy, U.S. Department of Commerce @TradeGov

Jake Colvin, Executive Director, Global Innovation Forum @GlobaliForum

What We Learned

Takeaways from the discussion.

Small companies can be global without even realizing it.

“Everybody is already operating on a global scale, whether they have employees in different countries or they see the opportunities outside of where their company is based.” – Sean Leow, Director of International, Kickstarter
“Borders are collapsing but in a good way. It’s not a decision about whether to go global or not go global from Day 1. It’s about not being afraid to let the product go global even before you’re ready to do so.” – Julia Neznanova, Director, Friends of eBay


Resources to help you succeed globally exist all around – from corporations to your city to international embassies.

“Global corporations can really serve as a support system to help startups grow. Corporate accelerators – eBay’s, CapitalOne’s, American Express’s – provide infrastructure that really helps startups.” – Julia Neznanova, Director, Friends of eBay

“Seek out the people that are already doing what you’re doing – ‘friendpetitors’. As a mission-driven company, we’ve had a very welcoming response from other companies trying to do the same thing.” – Sean Leow, Director of International, Kickstarter

“Make sure you have the right investors and make sure that you use them because if you’re expanding internationally, getting an introduction to a potential partner or regulator can make a massive difference.” – Matthew Perlman, Principal, Fenway Summer Ventures

“Really cutting edge technical work is happening at our universities and it needs to get to market. There are gems to be found – often in really diverse places.” – Tereza Nemessanyi, Entrepreneur in Residence, Microsoft

“One overlooked resource is our embassies and consulates in countries around the world. There are State Department diplomats but also Foreign Commercial Service officers who are on the ground and whose mission it is to help Americans trying to understand the local market.” – Jake Colvin, Executive Director, Global Innovation Forum

Intellectual property protection regimes vary country to country. Understand the IP landscape and conduct some basic “IP hygiene” internally before entering new markets.

“Patents are a very unforgiving legal regime and they’re country specific. Follow this: if you have a solution to a problem and you’re not sure if it’s patentable. Before you communicate anything outside the company, talk to a patent lawyer. Posting your invention on a blog can be considered ‘public disclosure’ and once it’s out there, you can’t go back in time.” – Jeffrey M. Sears, Ph.D., J.D., Chief Patent Counsel, Columbia University

“Put together a strategy for each new market then think about your IP portfolio. Do your research – travel there, go to trade shows, hire consultants. Some markets might not be worth it. And make sure your local partners have skin in the game.” – Michael Hermann, Director of Licensing, Andy Warhol Foundation

“Investors want to see if you have a patent. They don’t want to know how good it is – they just want to know if you have one. It’s an asset that goes on the balance books. Patents are cheap to file; for a copyright, you don’t always need to file; and trademarks are either very cheap or not needed.” – Jeffrey M. Sears, Ph.D., J.D., Chief Patent Counsel, Columbia University

“Understand your full range of IP tools. The U.S. Government offers a lot of information on how international markets treat IP rights. There’s something called the Special 301 Process in which the U.S. Government performs a detailed review of 120 countries per year that’s available online.” – Stevan Mitchell, Director, Office of Intellectual Property Rights, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

Choose partners strategically to help expedite your global expansion.

“If you’re bringing on a reseller or distributor, it should be one that can scale your business and not just offer an access point.” – Tereza Nemessanyi, Entrepreneur in Residence, Microsoft

“Make sure you’re connected to the right decision-makers and that your partner is aligned with your goals. It helps to have investors that are global and can make the right connections for you.” – Matthew Perlman, Principal, Fenway Summer Ventures

“While going direct and having a perfectly integrated supply chain may be the ideal several years out, when you get going, you either benefit from or have no other choice but to use intermediaries. For us, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. You get the halo effect of their brand and they can get you FedEx rates far lower than you can access on your own, etc. But, don’t assume that your partners know more than you do. Make sure to address all your questions with them in advance.” – Nikki Lawrence, Co‐Founder & CEO, Gleem & Co.

New York City offers unique advantages to globally-minded entrepreneurs.

“New York has certain character traits that are particular to this city that lead to the kind of creative innovation that drives successful companies. For example, if you think about the next round of companies that are coming up, we think some of the most successful ones aren’t going to be pure tech plays but are powered by tech and exist across various industry verticals – fasion, advertising, finance, real estate – every one of those industries is based right here.” – Julie Samuels, Executive Director, TechNYC
“In New York City, we can actually introduce you to representatives of the governments you’re exploring entering, here in New York. You can have these meetings for the cost of a subway ride rather than actually going to those countries. It’s a tremendous asset and really unique to New York.” – Daniel Kadishson, Director of Economic Development, New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs

Let demand for your product or service guide your global journey.

“Whether or not a product is going to find product market fit within a regulatory environment is a really important question to think through. What are elements of the business that are extensible across borders but still unique?” – Tereza Nemessanyi, Entrepreneur in Residence, Microsoft


Explore the social media conversation that took place around the forum.