Taking your business offshore may be a difficult challenge for many Australian software companies, but a panel discussion on successfully exporting your intellectual property hopes to shed light and experiences for prospective exporters.
The discussion takes place on Wednesday at the Interact 2003 show in Melbourne. One of the speakers will be Steve Wiley, general manager new businesses at Melbourne-based Adacel. He will be joined by Alan Knipe, founder of StarNet Systems and Peter Cook, chairman at CTAM.
Adacel has been around since 1987 and initially started business as a developer of simulation-based training for the aviation and defence markets. Today, its business has expanded to include e-learning simulation software for the corporate environment.
According to Wiley, there are several ways to getting your business set up overseas, particularly in the lucrative North American market.
One way is via an existing alliance. "Ideally you have worked with a US company in Australia and understand each other's culture."
But not every company has that relationship, he said. Some chose to go through intermediaries, such as strategy consultants, examples of which are Boston Consulting and McKinsey & Company, which already have existing relationships with companies in overseas markets. Consultants work out the best plan of attack by devising strategies that help each client enter foreign markets. "These guys are expensive and not viable for smaller groups." However, he said they did have the advantage of drawing on global resources, thanks to the scale of their business.
Closely tied to strategy consultants are brokers. Finding a broker can be a relatively easy task. "Go to any export conference and 80 per cent of the people there will be brokers. We have never had any trouble finding them," he said. Brokers, he said, invariably take a percentage of the deal. So rather than request large up-front payments from a prospective client, they help facilitate in setting up an office or sales in a foreign city. The profits, should they come, then make some of their way into the broker's hands
On the government side, Austrade also provides a database that companies can trawl for information. The government agency has a list of names which exporters can contact.
If these methods do not appeal, there is the direct method of just going overseas and doing it yourself. Wiley said Adacel utilised the Hoovers database in the US. Hoovers provides comprehensive company, industry, and market intelligence on some 12 million companies. It tells what business the company is in, who its competitors are and other useful information. "This database can be a powerful resource," he said.
In Adacel's case, Wiley said the company has tried all the above options. Adacel has been addressing international markets over the last four years and has set up offices in the UK, and North America, specifically to contact the aviation and defence market.
Wiley and co will take stage at 11.15 at ACMI, which is located at Federation Square in Melbourne. More information on the Interact conference can be found at www.interact2003.com.au