India-U.S. Virtual Trade Mission

Darshan TV
April 28, 2001
By Ramesh Butani

Link to Darshan TV

Suvarna Rajguru: There is a lot of trade that goes back and forth between the U.S. and India. And you had in the studio, Tradebuilders, who is facilitating that kind of back and forth.

Ramesh Butani: That is right. This is Darshan's model-we want to bring business opportunities to you. Here is a company called Tradebuilders. They actually are doing these trade missions online. You know there are time differences, sometimes you go there and you don't really know anyone, but here is a way of actually knowing people online. And here to explain that is Elizabeth Vazquez from Tradebuilders. Networking has been the bulk work of the business world. But you know, the networking means you have to be present to network. Now we have a company called Tradebuilders. They want you to network online, and we have the President of Tradebuilders, Elizabeth Vazquez, in our studio, and welcome.

Elizabeth Vazquez: Thank you so much. It is a great pleasure.

Ramesh Butani: Thank you. Now tell us exactly what does Tradebuilders do?

Elizabeth Vazquez: Tradebuilders helps companies go global. Like in a traditional trade mission, where you have a group of companies in one country, and a group of companies in another country, that want to network together, we provide them with that networking space on the Internet.

Ramesh Butani: That means they do not have to travel to the other country, they can network in your web space. Who are, or who can be, some of your customers?

Elizabeth Vazquez: Its a real diverse range. We work with a lot of small and mid-size businesses that are interested in entering new markets, without incurring the significant costs traditionally associated with trade, and traditional trade missions. We also work with larger corporations that are interested in finding new clients and new supply chain networks and opportunities for sourcing from small and mid-size businesses.

Ramesh Butani: You have your first launch coming up with India. Now the question I have is in countries like this, so many times the movers are either the ministries or the associations of that country. How do you tackle that one?

Elizabeth Vazquez: Actually, it is a great complement because so many of them are trying to find new ways to help even more of their clients or association members go global. And so they can use a virtual trade mission to work with a larger number of businesses that want to go on that traditional trade missions they are organizing. If we can provide them with a virtual platform, to allow all of those companies to come into a space for a month, for example, to network online, then by the time they actually go over to that country, it is a far more powerful and effective opportunity to actually sign the deals.

Ramesh Butani: So if you were to go network in a hotel or somewhere, it many cost you as much as a $1,000 or $2,000, by the time you pay the association fee, the hotel room, and you miss two or three days. Are saying that you do not have to do any of that?

Elizabeth Vazquez: We are not necessarily trying to replace that, but we can complement that, so that before they decide to spend that kind of money going over to that country, they have been online networking with thirty, forty, or fifty similarly-minded businesses. They have had the opportunity to network with them, and identify lets say five business that are real solid business leads. But if you want to spend a million dollars on my company, and that has been identified as an opportunity (inside a virtual trade mission), before you do that we recommend that you come over and meet me, visit my plant, make sure I can produce the widgets that you want produced, and then we have a deal. If you can do (most of the work) virtually in advance…then you do not have to make three trips to that country.

Ramesh Butani: I have to introduce you to a fellow by the name of Sam Dhir, who works at the Department of Commerce. He takes trade missions for the Department of Commerce…to India, or Hong Kong, or Singapore, or the Middle East, or South America. I think he would be a pretty good candidate for you right?

Elizabeth Vazquez: In fact, we had worked with the Department of Commerce on our last virtual trade mission between Canada and the United States. We worked with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce, along with Industry Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Canada. All of them recognizing the opportunity to help even more of their local businesses go global.

Ramesh Butani: How much do you charge, and remember we are public television, and who should attend some of these missions?

Elizabeth Vazquez: The fee is truly nominal. It depends on the nature of the mission. It depends on the number of participants, the industries we are working with, the languages involved, and the types of technologies we integrate into that platform. For more information regarding this particular mission between India and the United States, I recommend people visit our website at www.tradebuilders.com.

Ramesh Butani: When is this particular mission coming up?

Elizabeth Vazquez: This mission was launched on Monday, of last week, and it lasts for one month. Participants are able to visit the website a few times a week, and network with the participants at times that are convenient for them. These are very busy people, business owners and business executives. At the end of this, we will have a videoconference, which is always really exciting because it puts a face on the people they have been networking with in cyber space. But on top of that, we offer opportunities for guest experts. So the participants are introduced to experts in the field that each particular mission is focused on. For this India-U.S. mission focused on the software industry, there are lots of tax and tariff issues, legal issues, and accounting issues around that. And so they are able to talk with people who are experts in those fields. In addition, they have access to an online library inside the virtual trade mission. The online library gives them information that is relevant, again to that industry sector. While there is wonderful information out there, and the Internet gives us all great access, it can be overwhelming for a small or mid-size business that is focused on developing their products or services. So if we can centralize that for them, we have found that it can be a very valuable service or value-add.

Ramesh Butani: I just want you to know that people who watch this show are not only Asians. We have non-Asians too. Do you have another mission simultaneously, or shortly coming up, in another part of the world?

Elizabeth Vazquez: We have had very serious requests out of countries like Australia, Israel, Argentina, and Ireland-truly representing every region of the world. This mission that we are currently conducting is a pilot virtual trade mission. We are trying to get the platform just right, so that when we roll it out into other economies, and focus it on different industry sectors, it is really an effective tool for the participants.

Ramesh Butani: Remember, embassies from the entire world are located here, and every Ambassador wants to bring bacon home.

Elizabeth Vazquez: That is a great point. The local environment is ideal for organizing virtual trade missions, so that we are not overlapping the great work that is being done by the embassies, and the associations, and the other government entities. But we are adding to that an opportunity, a virtual space, so that it increases the results of what they are already doing very well.

Ramesh Butani: Well, I congratulate you. In the dot.com world, the ideas are getting rarer and rarer, and this seems like a perfect match in a town which networks all the time. Thank you very much for coming over. Before I let you go, there are at least 160,000 people from all over, who are watching you. If you have a last world, if you want to invite them to your virtual network, what do they have to do?

Elizabeth Vazquez: Simply go to www.tradebuilders.com. And we look forward to some feedback on how we might better serve you. Thank you.

Ramesh Butani: Thank you.

Suvarna Rajguru: You know, that is a very interesting idea. In this day in age, where it is getting pricey to go back and forth and meet people in person, in the age of technology. It is a really neat idea to actually have videoconferencing, or this kind of trade mission, where people do not have to be there, they are virtually there. And so it is very interesting, and we will be following Tradebuilders.

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