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Is it time for partners to go global or go home?

James Henderson | Oct. 18, 2017
Being global is great and if you’re a software start-up, you must seize the day.

Credit: Dreamstime 

Close your eyes, spin your globe and point — where your finger lands is where you go.

That could be Argentina, Belgium or China, perhaps even Hong Kong, Israel or Japan. Maybe, Russia, South Africa or Thailand.

The possibilities — the PR and marketing departments will say — are endless, with ambition the order of the day and expansion expected from the outset.

Officially, it’s a going global from day one approach.

It’s the throwaway line heard during accelerator events, demo days and investor pitches, because being global is great and if you’re a software start-up, you must seize the day.

For the channel, carpe diem is the name of the game.

“It’s not true at all,” Tech Research Asia executive consultant Mark Iles warned. “Being global from day one is difficult and in general, it’s not true.

“You need a market entry strategy but people take the view of ‘the world is your oyster’ and the global market is open and waiting. But to be honest, if it was that easy, you would have done it already.”

Speaking from experience — in heading up local independent software vendor (ISV) Centaman Systems — Iles questioned the rhetoric that has ring-fenced the start-up industry, creating fallacies around instant global expansion through software offerings.

Iles joined the Sydney-based business in 2006 as part of the management buyout team, taking the role of CEO and equity partner alongside a private equity investor.

Operating as a market leader in enterprise software solutions for the leisure industry, Centaman helps manage everything from ticketing, membership and inventory management, to access control, business analysis and reporting.

In employing more than 40 employees, the business has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Auckland, Chicago and Toronto, servicing over 4,500 users across over 700 sites in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and South Korea.

“Our obvious targets for market expansion were first the mature English speaking markets such as the USA, UK and Canada,” Iles explained. “Before going global, businesses must ensure the product is as ready as it can be for the global market.

“Some of that is writing good code and it’s not hard these days to write double-byte character sets to physically change the language of your application should you expand into non-English speaking countries.

“That’s not too hard these days but there were some gotchas to watch out for along the way.”

Specifically, the Centaman product range spans ticketing, point of sale, membership management and CRM, alongside bookings, programs management, access control, online, kiosk, mobile solutions and staff administration systems.

Through an existing customer agreement, the ISV was introduced to the South Korean market, creating both opportunities and challenges.


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