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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.

“We sold into the Korean market and the lunar calendar is incredibly important,” Iles said. “We work off January 1 until December 31 so it’s not something you immediately think about, but suddenly there was a requirement to stop and examine things from a lunar calendar perspective.

“It’s things like this that partners must be aware of because they can tie up significant development resources, especially in a market where sales and marketing execution is key.

“Simply turning up to a country, launching a product and having it available is not enough or isn’t considered a viable global strategy.”

Despite the difficulties associated with local markets, Iles said entering a new territory through an existing customer agreement helps provide a “soft landing” for businesses seeking global expansion.

“When a customer pulls you into a market it’s a great excuse to enter a new country through a customer that is almost funding you to go in there,” Iles said. “We had a client that had a business operating in a few countries outside of Australia and required a single system deployment across the region through a single dashboard view.

“That was beneficial to our business because we could leverage a friendly customer who could help assist with development work and setting up shop.”

In short, Iles said finding customers that can introduce new geographies offers a safer route to market than trying to acquire new business in a country that fails to recognise your brand and offerings.

“Having a current customer is great because they will share with you their local team who will quite happily help outline the requirements they are looking for in the market and you can then use that to your advantage,” Iles explained.

“From there you can decide to springboard out because supporting software and integrating it is hard with a single client.”


Global aspirations

In running all aspects of the business — including finance, product development and international expansion — Iles and the team sold the organisation in early 2010 to Constellation Software, a large publicly-listed North American software provider.

Before the sale however, the business actively pursued global expansion plans, assessing the merits of moving IP overseas in a bid to build out a worldwide footprint.

“There is less focus today on physical locations because you can do things virtually,” Iles acknowledged. “But for any software focused business operating in the enterprise, and especially if you’re an ISV, you typically have a fairly heavy service arm.

“Therefore you must decide to invest in services in the local country, start putting people on aeroplanes or use a channel strategy.”

While a channel often provides the quickest and most effective route to market, challenges remain for businesses attempting to build ecosystems from scratch, in a country unfamiliar with its offerings and value proposition.


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