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Entrepreneurs leave Sydney for New York

Entrepreneurs like Treena Blair are increasingly being lured from Sydney to New York City, particularly women. Here’s why
Catherine Robson
February 23, 2018

Forget Sydney, New York City is where it’s at for female entrepreneurs and start-ups.

The Big Apple ranked number one in the 2017 Dell Women Entrepreneur City Index, which measures five areas of support for women entrepreneurs globally in 50 cities. Sydney on the other hand came in 11th place.

Sydneysider at heart, Trena Blair is the founder and chief executive office of FD Global Connections and has lived and worked extensively in New York City’s burgeoning entrepreneurial scene over the past decade.

In this week’s episode of Success Stories, she explains how she’s helping Australian companies prepare for and launch in the USA market, with a focus on NYC.

Silicon Valley may be the famous home of startups but the innovation policy put in place former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg a decade ago has seen the city become an attractive option for tech entrepreneurs, especially female-led startups.

“They’ve invested $10 billion dollars over 10 years in supporting women and minority in business in New York and for the last two years NYC has been ranked number one,” says Trena.

Trena calls her enviable career ‘interest led’ taking her from the family’s dairy farm in western Victoria to senior international roles and founding her own consultancy, but it’s not a path she’s mapped out in meticulous detail.

“I can’t say I’ve really planned my career. Very early on I knew I did want to lead the Australian arm of a global multinational and I set myself on working towards that, but it wasn’t something I ever formally stated’ she says.

After reaching that goal with her position VP/GM for regional VP Marketing (APAC) at American Express, Trena stepped away from her 20 plus year international executive career to start her own consultancy, FD Global Connections.

The group works with Australian companies to prepare for and launch in the US, specialising in NYC and demand for her services has gone from strength to strength since she opened up shop in 2014.

“I work with clients to try to give them the best chance of success in the US because 80 per cent of them fail and that’s a really high failure rate” she says

“There are two elements that are really critical for that launch phase; one is you need to ensure you’re operating legally in the US as a business.”

“It’s complex, so making sure they’ve got the operating platform in place is critical” explains Trena.

“The other fundamental piece of work that I do with clients is to figure where they should launch in the US.

“Understanding what that environment looks like and understanding where the clusters of potential clients are is also really important. So, this is the analysis we do at FD Global to support their entry into the US market” she says.

Trena has built an impressive network in the NYC entrepreneurial scene, but arriving in NYC over a decade ago after her husband was transferred with work, she had zero professional or personal connections in the city.

“I could either sit in a corner and cry and pine to come back to Australia or I could make the most of it and that’s what I did.

“I set myself three goals, the first one was, I love the Metropolitan Museum, so I signed up as a volunteer there.

“The second was; I wanted to do some further studies, so I selected NYU and I did a public relations and communications program and third; I wanted to secure a role in the heart of Manhattan,” recalls Trena.

Her own experience strategically building a network from zero is now a valuable insight and asset for her clients.

“I was put into an environment I knew very little about, I had nobody around me I could reach out to, so it taught me the value of networks,” she says.

“I’ve been very respectful of my network, so when I do reach out to them, they know it’s for a very good reason and it’s a win: win, so there’s something in it for them as well,” says Trena.

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Catherine Robson
February 23, 2018
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