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Global Trade Get the skinny on how you can start an international business in college.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're aching to start a business in college-and you'realready thinking global. If you want a company with aninternational presence, listen to the experts: It's going totake serious research and planning. "No two nations orinternational market opportunities are the same," says SherryHoskinson, associate director of the Karl Eller Center/ McGuireEntrepreneurship Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson.She notes that students starting international businesses face thetypical startup challenges as well as issues concerning taxes,trade law, currency conversion, language translation and culturalunderstanding (just to name a few).

Lin Miao and Blake Liguori are familiar with those challenges.Miao and Liguori, both 19-year-old sophomores at Babson College inBabson Park, Massachusetts, decided to go global when theyofficially launched, an online emporium of posters thatsell for about $7, in July 2005. They then opened an eBay Store foradded exposure. While marketing the low-cost décor to theirfellow U.S. dormitory dwellers, they wanted to sell to young peoplein the United Kingdom as well. "[We thought], If this works sowell in the U.S., why can't we do this internationally?"says Miao. In fact, eBay users often asked the pair if they wouldship internationally to places like Canada, the UK and otherEuropean countries.

Securing a drop-ship supplier in the UK was the firstchallenge--Miao and Ligouri found one by contacting their U.S.supplier and asking for a referral. But stocking the right productsto appeal to their UK customers was a bigger challenge. Theyquickly found that selling the exact same products wouldn'twork for this different culture. "Most of our U.S. productswere art-related, but we found that the UK customers are a pop[culture] community--they love music and movies more than the U.S.customers," says Miao. Based on some additional surveys andresearch, the pair tweaked their offering to be more pop-cultureoriented for their customers.

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