CytoViva’s technology gives researchers the most advanced nanoscale optical and hyperspectral microscopy systems available in the market today. It provides a proprietary Enhanced Darkfield (EDF) Hyperspectral Microscopy for researchers in multiple disciplines, which significantly aids observation and innovation in the fields of nanomerials, nanobiology, and nanotoxicology.
The company recognized the incredible export potential of its technology but needed assistance to develop an export strategy, identify potential markets & partners, identify new market segments, and understand export procedures.
"The SBDC’s Alabama International Trade Center has been a critical resource for CytoViva. Our business must operate in a lean and efficient manner, which means we often do not have the extra resources, CEO human or financial, to accomplish growth initiatives. The AITC has been a fantastic partner in that regard, helping us grow our business in critical markets as well as providing data and insight to help us discern the best strategic path forward. We are extremely grateful that this high-quality resource exists and is so accessible."
BIO Alabama, the state’s biotech & life sciences trade association, referred CytoViva to the Alabama SBDC’s International Trade Center in 2016. The AITC team provided international market research to identify European export markets and industry reports to help develop CytoViva’s growth strategies to target other market segments that could use the technology. The Center also provided training on export procedures and identified foreign distributors. In preparation for the State of Alabama Biotech Trade Mission to the UK and Ireland, AITC prepared market research and found relevant companies to meet on the trip
Wafel-Bitte is a woman-veteran-owned business that provides Belgian Liege waffle mix and ready-to-eat waffles; they opened in September 2020. Owner Bailey M. Erickson-Nichols proudly served in the U.S. Air Force, and her daughter, Alexis Hope Nichols, now serves in the U.S. Air Force in Germany.
During COVID-19 isolation, the mother-daughter team used their time to open a small business. They came up with the idea of Belgian Liege waffles after Bailey’s 8-year assignment in Germany. Alexis has had an entrepreneurial spirit since a young age, so before she left for the military, her mother wanted to teach her how to take a unique idea and follow it through. Wafel-Bitte began as a cottage food industry; the Belgian Liege waffles were made in their home, using an authentic Belgian waffle maker and imported Belgian Pearl Sugar. They sold the waffles at various area events and farmer's markets.
Since they did not have a catering license that would allow them to make fresh waffles, they partnered with local coffee shops that have the correct licensing and space to make and serve their waffles fresh.
Wafel-Bitte became so popular and loved that customers began requesting the mix to make the waffles in their homes. The owners recognized that the business needed to evolve if they were going to grow to meet the market demand.
“Our company has proven to many families that you can follow a dream and make it come true. We continue to tell customers to reach out to the Alabama SBDC if they have an idea for a company and that there are many people who want to see local businesses thrive. Our designation as a woman- and veteran-owned business is very important. It shows our young women and veterans that they can succeed in business. The U.S. Government and society in general, want women and veteran owned small businesses to thrive and agencies such as the Alabama SBDC help make that happen.”
With the help of the Alabama SBDC, Bailey and Alexis learned how to test their business idea, obtain a business name and license, form an LLC, use QuickBooks, and learn strategies to market their product. They opened their business in September 2020, and in October 2022, they obtained commercial kitchen space and started selling the mix.
Laura Flores and her family owned two locations of the Mexicana San Juditas - a general store specializing in Hispanic products, in rural southeast Alabama; business was booming at their stores in Eufaula and Ariton. Laura was ready to expand the business and add a third location in Troy. This new location would also include locally-made food products. Laura knew that food establishments were subject to additional business regulations, inspections, and licenses and was uncertain how to proceed. For them, navigating the licensing process represented a challenge in expanding into a more extensive municipality. The family also knew that to be successful; they would have to improve their marketing efforts and reach a broader audience.
The SBDC played a great role in our expansion to a bigger town; it was a challenge to deal with new rules and regulations in another language, but the advisors made us feel confident about the next steps. Thousands of thanks to the small business development center for the great help you provided us!
After meeting with the owners, Center Director Juliana Bolivar collected the required forms and met with local officials to discuss Laura's plan and the type of health permits that would be required. Juliana explained the permitting process, the cost, and how long it would take. Once Laura understood the permitting process, she secured their new location in Troy. After that, Bolivar provided support by translating during their health inspection and helping them complete the required paperwork.
When they opened the doors of their mini-market and ice cream/popsicle bar, Juliana recommended they keep working on their marketing, as they had established a brand identity that tells their story through their faith. Specifically, she noted that their digital marketing strategy needed some work. Yadira “Yari” Colon-Lopez, the marketing advisor, helped Laura create separate Google My Business listings for each store and trained the stores' managers to develop a uniform tone and identity among the three social media accounts.
During their conversations, Laura mentioned that she wanted to keep growing to attract Hispanic customers and be a convenient grocery store for all community members transiting the main highway in Troy. They started working on a marketing strategy that will include flyers in English with professional photos taken by the communications team at Troy University and some signage suggestions to help other market segments discover them.
Recently, the Mendez-Flores family started to work with the SBDC on their new business idea, as they own a building with a fully equipped commercial kitchen in Ariton that they would like to start using as a commissary kitchen for food trucks in the area. Their entrepreneurial spirit and desire to succeed is a great strength for any new business. Still, now they know they have the support of the Alabama Small Business Development Center to help them navigate the process.