Export Champion Interview | CommonwealthFirst | World Champion in SME Support

Export Champion Interview

27
Nov

Paul May, Universal Smart Cards, Export Champion Interview

Paul May, Commercial Director, Universal Smart Cards

Paul May, Commercial Director, Universal Smart Cards

What future trends are you seeing within your industry?
I see a growing market for RFID products as payment is disrupted by new fintechs.  And I see ‘pull through’ from smart phone based apps which need a ‘lowest common denominator’ token = the smart card, smart device.

How did the idea for your business come about?
Universal Smart Cards was founded by the 2 owners 16 years ago to provide an independent flexible customer service orientated smart card business as an alternative to the monolithic global corporate entities.

What makes your business unique?
Our breadth of portfolio, our superb supply chain/partner network, our customer service and our independence set us apart.

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21
Nov

Paul Rose, YouTeachMe, Export Champion Interview

Paul Rose YouTeachMe

Paul Rose, Managing Director, YouTeachMe

How did the idea for your business come about?
Between 2009 and 2013 I was the Headteacher of a school in difficulty. I wanted to help the teaching team to rapidly improve and looked to technology to support them. No such technology existed. Having succeeded in moving the school to a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, I quit my job, took the knowledge I had gained and began working on the development of a technology with the capability to transform all schools; YouTeachMe.

What is the USP of YouTeachMe?
Only school staff can solve the challenges facing the education system. Everything we do is designed to help them improve their own work and in doing so, enable others to improve too.

Who can use YouTeachMe?
Any school. We are working with all school types; Early Years, Infant, Junior, Primary, Secondary, Special and Alternative Provision. Wherever learning and teaching is taking place, YouTeachMe will add value to it.

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15
Nov

Ross Higgs, Wire Belt Company, Export Champion Interview

Ross Higgs, Wire Belt Company

Sales and Marketing Manager

Why is Wire Belt successful in export?
Wire Belt is successful in export by concentrating on the key target markets (not a scattergun approach), recognising that entering and building a market takes effort, time (1-2 years) and use of the correct resources. Once we have identified a potential distributor working with them on a trial base (1 year) to see if they and Wire Belt are good fit.

The other important element of building a successful distributor is creating a jointly agreed business plan, product training, customer visits, clear understanding of the USP’s of the products and services, industry sector knowledge and commercial support with transnational and national groups and lastly understanding of the importance of customer service.

What markets have been recently successful and why?
Turkey has been seen by Wire Belt as a very strong market for our products, however the current distributor has not been performing in line with the known growth and market trends.

Wire Belt formally cancelled its distributor contract (we use the ICC contract) and have now appointed after further research of the market potential three distributors, these are focussed on three different channels.

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9
Nov

Nicholas Wrigley, Winch Energy, Export Champion Interview

Nick Wrigley Profile

Nicholas Wrigley, CEO

What makes your renewable energy products unique?
There is nothing unique about the technology we use – the technology is top tier, standard tried and tested. What makes our solution unique is that we are continuously perfecting the design to respond to the customer and environment whilst innovating our business models.

How did the idea for your business come about?
Winch was founded in 2006 and originally focused on standard on-grid solar projects in Europe. In 2014, Winch wanted to expand into a new market and began its due diligence in Africa. When analysing the African market, it was clear that the grid was unstable, intermittent and overloaded and it would be unattainable and unaffordable to extend the grid to the majority of the population who were currently living without access to electricity. This is where Winch saw a great opportunity and new business market in off-grid energy.

How do you ensure the maintenance of your products are kept?
In country training is key to what we do. Winch establish an O & M team and customer service center in each country we operate in. Each unit has a full-time agent assigned to it to ensure routine cleaning of the modules and monitoring of the system. Furthermore, we can monitor our units from our London office with our integrated remote monitoring and performance system.

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2
Nov

Chris Garner, Versapak, Export Champion Interview

chris garner

Chris Garner, Sales and Marketing Director

What trends in your industry have you seen over recent years?
The trend for reusable packaging is growing. The problems of throw-away packaging are growing. Firstly in the up front purchase costs, but secondly in the additional costs in ordering, storing and then disposing of the throw away envelopes etc. Additionally, many corporations are moving to Versapak as part of their corporate environment and sustainability strategy.

How did the idea for your business come about?
Versapak began by supplying the Royal Mail with mailing bags in 1973. Indeed many companies may still have at their offices two small bags for first and second class mail at their premises. As the concept of a durable, reusable, secure bag grew the applications extended to; cash handling (think of how retailers move coins and notes from the cash till to the finance department) and medical (Versapak bags are used to secure; blood, vaccines, pathology samples etc. etc.).

In the 1980’s Versapak moved into the manufacture and supply of sports doping test equipment and have supplied many major sporting events including the Commonwealth games.

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17
Oct

Chris Sigley, Redstor Holdings, Export Champion Interview

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Chris Sigley, Sales Director

In a nutshell, what is exactly is Redstor data management technology?
The Redstor Pro data management platform offers a flexible Software as a Service (SaaS) providing backup, disaster recovery and archiving of data sitting on multiple systems, from cloud applications, laptops to desktops and servers- based either in-house, at the customer’s site, a 3rd party data center or on cloud platforms. The technology is built to scale, and supports organization with data volumes from 10GB to 1PB.

What is the key thing that makes your business unique against your strongest competitors both home and abroad?
We have built a platform from the ground up to meet our vision of managing and securing our customer data, whenever, wherever it is stored, all from one place. We have converged Backup, DR and Archiving into one solution for SME companies which is what the market demands. Our platform is cloud ready, partner friendly and through our multi-tenanted architecture, is scalable with the ability to cope with exponentially growing data volumes. We have a strong focus on providing service and as such we are true Software as a Service (SaaS) Data Management company.

How did the idea for your business come about?
We believed there was a real need for a company which specialised in Information Protection and was consultative in approach and service led. At the time, we felt many companies were being oversold by “tin shifters”, who were concerned with selling data management tools as opposed to understanding what the customer truly needed and thereby tailoring a solution to match. Our approach enabled us to grow rapidly as we built tremendous relationships built on trust and understanding.

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13
Oct

John Waters, Principle Healthcare International, Export Champion Interview

John Waters, International Sales Director

John Waters, International Sales Director

How did the idea for your business come about?
Our Founder and Chairman, Mike Davies (MBE) started the Principle Healthcare business in 2002. Mike created a business that truly meets people’s individual needs with specialist Healthcare products of the highest quality.

Principle Healthcare has different brands. Which brand industry do you find the most competitive?
Principle Healthcare have products in every category of the Health Supplements industry – all the sectors that Principle Healthcare operate in are highly competitive, particularly where we compete with products from China/India etc.

How do you ensure quality and consistency whilst at the same time remaining competitive?
Principle Healthcare operate on a platform of high quality of product –all of our customers require quality and understand that quality has a cost.eg ingredients, testing, audits etc.

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10
Oct

Luke Johnstone, PACK’D, Export Champion Interview

Luke Johnstone, Managing Director, PACK'D

Luke Johnstone, Managing Director, PACK’D

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
The biggest difficulties have been navigating a new industry. It is both an advantage (as we have a unique and innovate approach) and a difficulty as we are often learning things for the first time. Mentoring and support from The Prince’s Trust has been a huge help.

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Entering new markets for the first time. Experienced mentors through CWF will be invaluable.

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?
Building our community of mentors through The Prince’s Trust, Virgin StartUp and CWF. Bringing strategic investors on board with experience growing Nakd, Chrysallis, MySale, Cardsave and Planet Organic.

How did the idea for your business come about?
A tennis scholarship was abruptly ended by injury but my passion for nutrition remained. Whilst working at the BBC I sought a way to make nutritious smoothies quickly and PACK’D Smoothie Kits were the solution.

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6
Oct

Charlotte Semler and Arabella Preston, Votary, Export Champion Interview

Charlotte Semler and Arabella Preston, Co-Founders

Charlotte Semler and Arabella Preston, Co-Founders

How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
I read an article in the Guardian about it and thought it might be relevant for us because Votary is so export focussed despite being small and new.

How did the idea for your business come about?
Arabella Preston and I became friends years ago when we worked together. Arabella subsequently retrained as a makeup artist and built the most incredible career and client base. I was really interested in starting a skincare business so when Arabella told me she was blending her own facial oils and using them on clients Votary was born.

Why do you think Votary has grown so quickly?
Votary has a very clear brand story to tell: We believe in the skin-transforming power of natural plant oils. And our co-founder Arabella Preston is well respected within the beauty industry. We have also been incredibly fortunate to work with retail partners like Liberty in London and Anthropologie in the USA. Their teams have got behind the brand and helped us grow it much faster than we could have done on our own.

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2
Oct

Gerard Rubio and Triambak Saxena, Kniterate, Export Champion Interview

Triambak-Saxena-Gerard-Rubio

Gerard Rubio and Triambak Saxena, Co-Founders, Kniterate

How did the idea for your business come about?
Kniterate is the brainchild of Gerard Rubio, who four years ago started OpenKnit, an open-source knitting machine. The project went viral thanks to its video “Made in the Neighbourhood”. In the fall of 2015 it was selected to be part of HAX, the world’s first and largest hardware accelerator, in Shenzhen, China. The spring of 2017 we did a Kickstarter campaign in which we raised $636K in crowdfunded finance.

Kniterate is a great innovative product of the future. What sort of impact are you hoping to have?
We want to change the current supply chain model of the garment industry. At the moment retailers ship garments half across the world and end up with excess stock, which then they are forced to mark down, or even worse, throw away. With Kniterate clothing is made locally and on demand, and because it’s made to shape there’s no waste due to cutting fabrics.

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