Elisabet Coll-Vinent on the internationalization of Catalan companies in the USA

With an educational background that includes a degree in Economics and Psychology, the professional career of Elisabet Coll-Vinent has been linked to business advice, international expansion and the execution of international projects. For more than 20 years, she has traveled around the world accompanying companies and organizing international promotional events, especially in Europe, North Africa and America.

Elisabet also has a master’s degree in Teleological Coaching from Institut Gomà, and she uses Coaching tools during the sessions, proposing alternative options in opening up markets and business growth.

She is currently the Director of the International Department of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and responsible for the United States Market.


What is the current strategy of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce regarding the internationalization of Catalan companies?

To promote the internationalization of the Catalan economy at the highest level. Catalan exports are still very much focused on European markets and there are many opportunities in other markets, such as Africa, Asia and the United States.

The globalization of the economy is not just about exports but about going one step further. There are more than 12,000 chambers of commerce in the world and from the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce we are in contact with the most dynamic to accompany companies in this phase of maturity, where not only companies export but also create subsidiaries abroad, look for partners in their destination to make alliances, buy companies or opt for any way to internationalize the company depending on the profile and opportunities.

And on the other hand, we also offer foreign international companies the 360 landing service, as a landing platform for companies outside the European Union, to do business in Barcelona and its area of influence and from Barcelona towards Europe and the Mediterranean area.

The strategy of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce in relation to the internationalization of Catalan companies is to offer high value-added products and services that provide solutions to current needs, connecting Catalan companies with companies from other countries to contribute to the growth of the economy, from efficiency and competitiveness.

Why does the Chamber choose the United States as one of the most recommended countries to export the products and services of Catalan companies?

Here I would like to highlight the strengths to export to the US:

  • It is a market of more than 320 million consumers.
  • It is the largest economy in the world and accounts for 25% of world production.
  • Secure legal, juridical and financial platform for the development of new businesses.
  • Protection of intellectual property.
  • A benchmark for business transparency and political stability on a global scale and therefore an option to consider for developing projects in the medium and long term.
  • Re-activity of the market in the new Biden era and post-pandemic.

What criteria do you use to select candidates for the USA Mentoring Program of the Chamber?

When companies apply for the mentoring program, we do a carefully selection to make sure that the company has the required needs and tools to land in the USA. Among others, the key points that we focus on are:

  • Companies with international experience.
  • Turnover> 1M euros.
  • Open mindedness.
  • Willingness to get involved in the project and design their roadmap in U.S. markets, with the tools, individualized advice, and tips that they will receive during the program.
  • Being able to dedicate a budget to invest in opening up the U.S. market.

What are the main concerns of companies attending the program?

Each company has its own concerns depending on their experience in internationalization and the sector they provide services for. However, we have perceived that most of the companies have similar doubts in terms of:

  • Getting an overview of the U.S. market and a specific view of the business sector in that market.
  • Obtaining information on characteristics, business culture and requirements to enter the market.
  • Sharing experiences with other companies.
  • Simply how to do business in the USA.
  • How to identify a good business partner or distributor.
  • Knowing the trends and the American mentality of doing business.
  • Knowing the legal framework.
  • Improving skills to succeed in sales in the United States.

After more than 20 years accompanying companies to expanse internationally through the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, what lessons can you share with entrepreneurs interested in the American market?

I would recommend them to get information, training, advice, let themselves be accompanied, networked and listen to those entrepreneurs who have already taken the steps to learn from their successes and failures. And take steps to define their own action plan in the market, reflecting on questions like these:

  • What added value does my product / service have?
  • What market variables do I need to know?
  • What should I adapt to the American market?
  • What is the business mindset in the United States?
  • How do I protect myself from litigation?
  • How do I identify customers? How do I choose who to work with?
  • What is your model of landing or expansion?

Questions that invite the company to think and take action.

And above all, patience and perseverance to move forward.

One of your areas of expertise, in addition to internationalization, is leadership and personal development. How important are these psychological factors in the process of expanding a company?

To grow it is very important to know yourself and know where you want to go. And this is on both a personal and professional level. And to do that, you need a process of reflection, to gather information, analyze it and make decisions to take action. That is why the mentoring program is a very suitable tool, as it provides practical information, contact and networking with other companies that are on the same trip and experts with whom to consult to chart the roadmap for international expansion.

There are 3 characteristics for leadership and personal development that are essential for success in opening up international markets:
– Open mindedness
– Positive attitude
– Curiosity about other cultures

“Do what you love or love what you do.”


For additional information, please contact the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce’s International Department: internacional@cambrabcn.cat.