Vital research gives Auckland companies a US boost

Vital research gives Auckland companies a US boost

Five Auckland companies are looking to make the most of a great opportunity to launch their innovative products into the lucrative United States market after securing a research opportunity through San Diego State University’s (SDSU) international business opportunity development programme.

A group of MBA students at SDSU are providing valuable market research and developing a United States entry plan for the five Auckland companies free of charge – work which would collectively cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if commissioned through a consulting firm.

The Auckland companies participating – amongst the total of seven New Zealand companies accepted for the 2015 programme - are:

  • Abel Software provides Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) business management software with a focus on manufacturing, distribution and services businesses. Abel is used by 200 businesses across 12 countries, including NZ Towel Supply and its global parent company ALSCO Inc.
  • Flow Software, a North Shore-based information technology company specialising in electronic data interchange (EDI) and rapid integration.
  • FoundationFootprint TM, which provides a comprehensive cloud-based solution designed to support organisations with environment, sustainability and health & safety management and reporting.  
  • Lighting Design Practice (LDP), a lighting and electrical design consultancy that has lit up Cambridge Velodrome, Wynyard Crossing, sports fields, aquatic centres, motorways and the new Doha International Airport.
  • Xorro Solutions develops desktop and cloud-based solutions which transform the live audience experience in any group learning or collaboration setting. Xorro’s tools visually organise shared information and stimulate participation.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) provided the connection for the ambitious local businesses. The San Diego programme paired teams comprising of four executives working towards an MBA with overseas small and medium-sized (SME) companies looking to expand into United States.

One of this year’s participants, Flow Software, is confident it will be armed with the most detailed and relevant intelligence to successfully launch its innovative product into the lucrative United States market.

Flow, established in 2006, knew what it wanted in the United States. Its market research concentrates on finding the right partners, on the ground in United States, to sell and distribute its product.

We had an over-arching strategy for entering United Sates through a partnership model rather than looking at multiple approaches or direct sales,” says Flow general manager and director, David Masters (pictured, top).

"The research will profile, identify and validate potential partners for us in different market segments,” he says. “The timing is perfect for us. Once we make arrangements with new partners and train them, we could have our first run (sales) on the board by the end of the year.”

Vital research gives Auckland companies a US boost

Flow has weekly conference calls with the MBA students and has provided extensive product and company information and organised product demonstrations.

ATEED business growth specialist Wayne Voss, who introduced the Auckland participants to the San Diego programme, says a lot of New Zealand SMEs struggle to pay for this type of in-depth market research.

"It has given the participating companies a huge leg up in their efforts to enter the United States market,” he says. “The people doing the research live and work there and they have their own networks and connections so their involvement has been invaluable.”

Abel Software’s Business and Channels Manager, Jane Mattsen (pictured below on a recent visit to San Diego State University with Abel Software’s Allan Baird (left) to meet Caleb Queern, the university’s project lead of Abel’s US market research programme), says “although we already have a large number of Abel sites in the US, the focus for us is to expand our Channel Partners network in the US.”

In a business trip to the USA in April, Jane and her business partner Allan Baird took the opportunity to meet with the four executive MBA students assigned to Abel’s research project. “We were very impressed with the calibre of the four team members and their enthusiasm toward our project.”

Wayne Voss keeps in touch with Deb Gilbertson, the Wellington based New Zealand co-ordinator for the San Diego programme, and will be looking for prospective Auckland candidates for next year. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for other New Zealand businesses,” he says.

Dr Martina Musteen, Associate Professor of SDSU’s department of management, says working with Auckland and New Zealand companies is easy and most enjoyable. Other participating companies have come from Chile, Mexico, Jordan, Germany, Slovakia, India and South Africa.

Dr Musteen, who runs the San Diego programme, says the students find the experience of working with New Zealand companies extremely valuable in terms of learning and their responses are overwhelmingly positive.

Glass Vice Products Ltd, based in Albany and producing quality, frameless glass balustrades, pool fencing for Residential and Commercial projects, joined the San Diego MBA programme two years ago and is currently launching its products into the United States. One of the MBA students who completed their market research project has continued to work closely with Glass Vice on its US market entry initiatives.

If your company views the US market as a primary future target and has the resources to service this market, you can register your interest in participating in next year’s SDSU MBA programme, please contact Wayne Voss