College of Business

Boosting the Global Marketplace

by Karen Doss Bowman

Students participating in VITAL - 2017

SUMMARY: CoB students are working with the Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL) to help Virginia businesses expand into global markets.

What does it take for a startup to expand into the international marketplace? A group of CoB seniors spent the spring semester trying to answer that question by applying the theories and practical skills learned throughout their four years at JMU. They developed export plans for three Virginia startups for their capstone course in international business, taught by professor Marion White. 

The projects stemmed from JMU’s partnership with the Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL), an economic development initiative that strives to position Virginia-based companies for global expansion. JMU is one of nine state universities participating in VITAL, a partnership that exemplifies its vision to be the national model of the engaged university. Since the initiative began two years ago, White’s students have worked with seven businesses. 

This spring, the students worked in teams for three companies—Blue Vigil, Winchester Metals, and TSSI—to identify global markets into which their clients might expand. Each team explored the potential for success in a different country: Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. They developed strategies for entering international markets, presenting their recommendations to company executives at the end of the semester. 

“It’s wonderful that the students gain experience working with real companies applying what they’ve learned during their years here at JMU,” White says. 

Hayden Towler’s team represented Blue Vigil, a company that manufactures and sells drone power tether systems, exploring the potential of expanding operations to Australia. The company recently was selected as one of the top 70 Best University Startups of 2017 by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2). Towler and his teammates investigated the potential benefits of marketing Blue Vigil’s products within three specific sectors: government, farmers and entertainment. 

Towler is grateful to have had the opportunity to apply the business and research skills he’s learned as a student to a real-world business problem. The experience also helped to sharpen his presentation and professional skills.  

“This was my first time presenting an extended business plan complete with recommendations in front of a real CEO, something I was not able to do even in my past internship,” says Towler, who plans to attend the University of Antwerp this fall. “This experience really brought together my understanding of marketing, finance, operations, and management in an international context. What really put the cherry on top was the feeling that my work actually mattered and could be used by a real company looking to expand their operations.”

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Published: Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Last Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

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