Utah small business FiberFix has attended two trade shows funded by STEP since 2016, with expectations to increase international market presence by 30 percent as a result of STEP funding.
For FiberFix co-founder Spencer Quinn, taking his growing company global was an easy decision.
“Why wouldn’t you?” asked Quinn. “It’s a no-brainer. You can reach new and more customers. And in many cases, it’s a lower cost of entry in some international markets than ones here
While going global was an easy strategy choice for Quinn, the question was how he would make it happen.
Turns out, the answer to the question was in part the State Trade and Expansion Program (STEP) Grant, which helped FiberFix attend trade shows that in turn generated entry into new markets and partnerships around the world.
After appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2013, FiberFix quickly found success in local markets. However, they realized there was an opportunity to sell their products— adhesive tapes that stick like glue and bind with the strength of steel—internationally. In turn, international sales increase their revenue and grow their business right here in Utah.
Initially, FiberFix found modest success internationally, with approximately two to five percent of their total sales revenue coming from international sales. The company regularly attended domestic trade shows and found success, but at the international level they had difficulty making the right, pre-screened connections with potential buyers and distributors.
That’s when Quinn found the STEP Grant, which helps eligible small business located in Utah offset the cost of expenses associated expanding their business internationally.
FiberFix first applied for and received a STEP Grant through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development in 2016. The company used the funds to attend ANTAD—the largest retail and supermarket trade show in Latin America—as part of a World Trade Center Utah coordinated trade mission to Mexico.
As part of the STEP Grant, in addition to exhibiting at ANTAD, FiberFix utilized Gold Key Services through the U.S. Commercial Service during the Mexico trade mission. The results were impressive.
With their initial STEP Grant in 2016, FiberFix was able to enter or increase their presence in three new markets: Mexico, Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago. The company’s international sales nearly doubled in 2016, growing from five to 10 percent. FiberFix also closed on 15 different distributor agreements as a result of their participation in the trade mission and trade show.
After the initial STEP Grant success in 2016, FiberFix applied and received a second STEP Grant in 2017. They used the funds to exhibit at another trade show in Mexico just last month.
“It’s still a little early to tell,” said Quinn about the trade show, “but I think we’ll be able to enter about 10 new markets in Latin America.”
As a whole Quinn believes the STEP Grant has been instrumental in their company’s success.
“The STEP Grant has had a huge impact on our ability to grow internationally,” said Quinn. “FiberFix has done more than one million dollars in additional sales because the STEP Grant has helped us gain a foothold in foreign markets.”
Additionally, thanks to the STEP Grant and their international growth, Quinn estimates FiberFix has been able to create ten new jobs here in Utah over the past two years.
Quinn encourages other startups not to be intimidated by the prospect of going international. He noted that because of the strength of the U.S. dollar, FiberFix can often reach more customers through international marketing—primarily on social media—than in the domestic market.
As for the STEP Grant, Quinn says he’d never think twice about encouraging a company to apply.
“We have had distribution partners fly in from all over the world because of connections made on trade missions [and shows] funded by the STEP Grant,” said Quinn.
“Just do it,” he said about applying.
Since the company launched less than five years ago, FiberFix is now found in more than 30 countries around the world. With new products launching in the coming months, they remain bullish about opportunities for future success both domestically and internationally.
World Trade Center Utah is accepting applications for the STEP Grant now through October 31, 2017. Companies may request funding to attend state-led trade missions and trade shows, as well as for other international business expenses such as website translation or attending another international trade show or independent export lead trip.
Previously, Utah companies have been able to apply for the STEP Grant on a rolling basis. Under the new STEP agreement, all funding requests for in federal FY2018 (which ends September 30, 2018) must be submitted in during the October 9-31 application window.
To apply or learn more about the STEP Grant, visit www.WTCUtah.com/step.