Austin small businesses get chance to enter Chinese market

Moonshine Sweet Tea (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)
Moonshine Sweet Tea (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Many Americans may be used to buying products made in China, but China is looking for more American good—specifically those made in Texas.

Thursday, small businesses in Austin have the rare opportunity to break into one of the largest markets in the world by pitching products on a global scale. The Small Business Festival is hosting a midnight pitch event where 14 product-based businesses from Central Texas will pitch live via web streaming to 45,000 buying agents in China.

Austin’s Moonshine Sweet Tea is one of the products selected to present. The product is made from a 70-year-old recipe and has rapidly expanded its distribution since launching the beverage in 2015.

“It’s just been a lot of good timing and good luck,” said CEO Remmy Castillo. “This year, we will be in about 11,000 stores nationwide. We just launched last week with Target as our first national customer.”

It’s one thing trying to capture the Austin market, the Texas market, even the American market. It’s another to go global.

“All of China, all of the Asian region including Australia, may never have seen those products. So they are not tapping into a small niche, they are tapping into unbelievable niche right across the other side of the world,” said Matthew Pollard with the Small Business Festival.

If Moonshine, or any other product pitching gets chosen, the products will be sold on Alibaba, the Chinese version of Amazon with three times the customers.

A chance to get the product into hands of new customers and a chance, Castillo says, to expand their operations.

“The possibilities are endless,” he said.

Currently, Alibaba has 7,000 U.S. businesses, mostly large companies and big-name brands. Over the next five years, Alibaba hopes to increase that to more than 1 million, with the vast majority made up of small businesses.

The United States imported $32.7 billion in goods from China in February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It exported $9.7 billion in goods.

Alibaba has been known for counterfeiters, including of many American-made brands.

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