New York Trade Mission 2014: Stuart Fraser of Bark & Miao

We believe that business owners can never stop learning - and where better to learn about international business than by going global? This year we sent some startups on our New York trade mission - three day opportunity in partnership with Enterprise Nation and UK Trade and Investment, providing small UK businesses with a chance to see how they do business in the states, see behind the scenes of some of the most exciting startups, and to network. First up, Stuart Fraser of Bark & Miao, a business that creates luxurious pet products, talks about the experience.

“The trip began with a pre-flight party at Gatwick Airport, whereby we got to meet other fellow entrepreneurs and exchange stories of challenges, ambitionsand dreams for the future. After some rousing introduction speeches and a few glasses of bubbly, we were on board a Norwegian Airlines aircraft bound for the Big Apple. We arrived late on Thursday evening and, after a quick nightcap, got my head down for an early start the next day.

Following a traditional American breakfast we all met in the hotel lobby, completed a head count, and boarded a coach into New York City. The anticipation started to build when we travelled over the Brooklyn bridge and caught our first glance of skyscrapers!

The first port of call was Etsy, an e-commerce website focused on handmade/vintage items that’s a world leader in its field. We descended into their impressive warehouse-style offices and all gathered in a room to listen a talk from the charismatic owner on how he started the business and plans to evolve. Our itinerary also included visits to Ebay and SquareSpace, and concluded with a champagne reception in our Times Square hotel.

The following day I set up some meetings with high-end pet retailers, and gained some valuable insights into the local market, competitor products and ideas on an export strategy that would have been difficult to come by otherwise – it was fantastic to get to meet these people face to face.

Through my packed schedule I met some fantastic people, gained valuable contacts and got a brief insight into how New York businesses operate. Meeting so many like-minded young startups also re-energized my passion for success.

Above all, it made me realize that every business has it’s challenges, big or small - but despite this, the overriding message was to never give up. Like most entrepreneurs, I have taken a risk; sometimes the journey is difficult but ultimately I am sure it will pay off."