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Joseph Lee

Founder, Coastline Market Inc. Established in 2016

The Trade Accelerator Program was an incredible experience that rapidly professionalized our export capabilities. The export sessions were extremely practical and the professional resources were well-tailored to align with our business context. I would highly recommend the program to anyone exploring international trade.

Give us your elevator pitch. Describe your business in 25 words or less.

Coastline is a seafood procurement platform for food businesses. We make it easy to source high quality, fully traceable seafood direct from Canadian harvesters.

What was your biggest challenge in terms of business growth and exporting before you joined TAP?

One of our biggest challenges was our lack of export experience. Furthermore, with a burgeoning domestic business, it was difficult to dedicate significant resources to pursuing (then-unknown) upsides in international trade. We were also unaware of resources such as EDC and the Trade Commissioner Office, which we now consider key shortcuts to growth in new markets.

What did your team learn from TAP?

Firstly, we learned that there is a wealth of resources available to organizations looking to do business abroad. Whether it's through Trade Commissioners or EDC, we quickly realized the importance of leveraging available expertise, experience, and relationships to streamline entry into new markets.

Secondly, the TAP program further emphasized the importance of diligence – such as credit checks, currency risk mitigation, importance of insurance, and cultural considerations– before taking action. These subtle nuances and lessons gave us a good foundation of knowledge we otherwise may have missed during siloed export preparations.

What have been the key outputs for you and your company since graduating TAP?

Since graduating from TAP in May, we were fortunate enough to participate in two trade shows (Seoul International Seafood Show, Food and Hotel Show) and build relationships with more than 30 prospective customers.

Within three months of graduation, we exported three shipments to our target segment of South Korea, with 3-5 additional shipments expected before the end of 2018. Ultimately, we anticipate our monthly export revenues to exceed our expectations. We also brought on an export manager in Seoul to meet, negotiate, and foster relationships with new and existing contacts in Korea.

What do the next 18-24 months look like for you and your business?

Within the next few months, we expect to close two contracts with major Korean businesses, with an annual contract value of $1M and $3M respectively. Once these pillars are secure, we plan to focus on operational efficiency, relationship-building, and quality assurance to retain and upsell these accounts.

In 6-12 months, we expect to close a round of venture capital funding and expand across four additional North American cities (currently operational in Vancouver/Toronto) by the end of 2019.

Within 18-24 months, we plan to have dedicated personnel focused on exporting into international markets such as Korea, Japan, and China.

Who do you think could benefit most from participating in TAP?

Emerging businesses (with stable domestic operations) that are ready for export, and existing exporters looking to improve their export efficiencies, leverage new resources, and increase international sales

Where do you currently export?

South Korea

What is the next international market you would like to tap into, and why?

China is the next logical international market for us. Seafood consumption is high, consumer spending is increasing, and America's recent tariffs have significantly increased demand for Canadian seafood products.

Why would you encourage other companies to participate in TAP?

The Trade Accelerator Program is an incredible experience that can expedite a company's export roadmap. The export sessions are extremely practical and the professional resources are well-tailored to align with each business' specific situation.


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