BY JENNY CALLISON
UPS has launched a competition that could provide export assistance to area businesses interested in expanding to global markets.
The $10,000 X-Port Challenge was announced this week by Wilmington’s Foreign Trade Promotion Council (FTPC), which is working with area UPS officials to encourage local businesses to apply. UPS is a FTPC board member.
Applicants “will get the chance to pitch their product to high-powered investors and receive guidance from industry experts to get up and running and go global,” FTPC Executive Director John Hayes said in an email. “This is a fantastic opportunity for any business looking to begin selling their product in international markets.”
UPS districts are holding X-Port Challenges in various parts of the country. Wilmington-area companies can enter the competition for businesses in states along the East Coast, Eric Reeves, UPS international account manager based in Wilmington, said Tuesday.
To be eligible, a business must have its principal business location in one of the East Coast states. X-Port Challenge applications and competition details are available online. The application deadline is Oct. 3, Reeves said.
The application “must be about a product that the qualifying business launched in the U.S. Market, or will launch in 2016,” the X-Port Challenge website states. “Each application will be carefully reviewed by a panel of judges from the business community … The designated judging panel will select the top 10 finalists in your area to participate at a Pitch-Off event. If selected as a finalist, you’ll pitch the judges on why your business is ready for the global marketplace. Three winners will be selected based on their international appeal and execution strategy.”
The top-scoring area business will receive $10,000 in export shipping from UPS. The second-place winner will receive $2,500 in shipping, and the third-place winner will receive $1,000 in shipping.
Finalists will be able to meet and talk with industry experts at the Pitch-Off, according to the website. The East Coast Pitch-Off will take place in Atlanta on Nov. 10, Reeves said. Finalists must attend to continue in the competition.
The X-Port Challenge timing aligns with the FTPC’s 2016 Annual Conference, scheduled for Oct. 12, Hayes said. The event, to be held at Cape Fear Community College’s Union Station in downtown Wilmington, has chosen the theme “Global Connections – How to Make it Happen.”
The conference is aimed at area businesses that want to enhance their current sales overseas or that would like to expand by finding international markets. Conference information can be found here.
“We are excited about the collection of speakers, experts and panelists that will be on hand to help companies learn how to make ‘Global Connections,’ find buyers, ship their goods and finance their sales to grow their business,” Hayes said.