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FinnU Business Students Assist Area Firms with International Expansion

April 28, 2020

Many businesses in our region have the potential to expand into the global marketplace. However, many of these businesses lack the time and resources to fully concentrate on exploiting such opportunities.  This spring, students in the International School of Business, Global Entrepreneurship class worked with two area businesses to develop plans that assist them in expanding their international operations.  

The Lake Linden-based company, NECi Superior Enzymes, is a producer of nitrate detection reagents and test kits that anyone can use to monitor water quality, the environment, industrial processes, agriculture, aquaculture, academic research and more. Company owner Ellen Campbell already has an international presence with partners in Belgium, France, Finland, Singapore, and Australia.  However, the student group consisting of senior Taylor Pertile, junior Santeri Seppinen, and Finnish exchange student Kata Piironen explored opportunities for expansion into the eastern European market. After some basic research, they focused on two countries – Poland and Serbia were ideal due to the country’s environmental problems where NECi’s products would have a positive impact.

Global Entrepreneurship


ProNav Marine of Hancock, produces the ProNav Angler, a GPS-guided autopilot system that allows anglers to focus on fishing and not trying to keep their boats on course.  The company has experienced a great deal of success domestically but thus far has had a limited international presence. The student team consisting of seniors Lindsey Johnson, Lillian Johnson, and junior McEwan Stapleton, put a plan together to allow the company to expand its international sales. The team focused on Canada, Australia, and the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. 

Travis White, Co-founder and Business Development Manager for ProNav Marine was quite pleased with the results the students produced. “Overall, this project was very valuable for ProNav considering the little amount of time and input required from our end relative to the quality of information and suggestions provided by the students.”  He went on to add “Specifically, some of the legwork they did to research international trade shows and possible market entry strategies was helpful. I think they did a good job narrowing in on our target market, and I am also pleased with their communication skills during a relatively difficult time. The weekly project update emails and requests for information were well composed and professional.”

Meanwhile, Ellen Campbell, CEO, and owner of NECi Superior Enzymes was pleased with the results students produced. “The students provided useful information.  I’m working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), on their STEP program for international web marketing.  Some of this info will go right into the website updates we’ll be doing as part of the project.”  She further mentioned that MEDC was pleased that NECi has been working with Finlandia University on this project.

The Value of Experiential Learning-based Projects  

“I think the most beneficial part of this project was working for a real company, we were actually applying the information we learned in class to the real world,” said senior Lindsey Johnson. “I think that is very beneficial. Anything in school that is tied to working for an actual company or a practical project is much more useful than just memorizing a book.” Taylor Pertile agreed that this project (NECi Superior Enzymes) helped her better understand many of the concepts and topics that she was not able to fully grasp when discussed in class.  

Lillian Johnson further added “I had a job interview this week and the question asked was related to any unique projects I have done in my schooling that have been community-focused. I was able to tell them about this project and one I participated in last semester in my Project Management course. It really stood out to him that we were helping people in our communities.”

Global Entrepreneurship is a course in the International Business major and is an elective for several other majors. For more information on the International School of Business go to finlandia.edu/internationalbusiness. 

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