As a company specialising in space services and management, Astrosat operates on a global scale from it's HQ in Edinburgh. BQ caught up with Ola Domagalska ahead of the HSBC Scottish Export Awards this year to find out more about their exporting success.
What does your company do?
Astrosat is an ambitious space services and management company which is quickening the pace of commercialisation of the space sector. It is among the leading UK contenders in the realisation of the potential of the near cosmos.
It has created a series of innovative products and applications which have adapted space technology for the immediate benefit of a huge variety of users, including local authorities, emergency services, environmental agencies, power stations and infrastructures operators.
It is continuing this vital work, producing effective tools or bespoke solutions for a wide range of clients.
How long has the company been exporting?
Since its creation in 2012.
What do you currently export, and where to?
Space based products and services (i.e. managed satellite scanning), mainly focused on South East Asia.
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
Space is a global market so it made sense to take our skills where they were needed most. It took us a few years to break into the market because end users were unaware of the potential of the technology.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
Working with nations that are just starting to develop in the space industry, because there is so much we can do for them. Astrosat has become a key player among late entrants to the sector.
And the most challenging part?
Some nations do not operate at the speed we are used to. Ensuring that we can work with them and create the capacity for them to move at their own pace is the key to success.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
We employed local contacts from the beginning. It was their job to smooth our entry into the region. Etiquette and cultural awareness in a foreign nation are as important as technical competence and capability.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
The UK space agency has been very supportive of our goals to develop and trade abroad. It helped us promote the Astrosat brand and find the contacts and contracts that would make our work sustainable.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Be patient and committed. You will face unexpected blocks on your journey so always be aware of why you are there and what mutual benefits can be had from your product or service.
None - the world is much bigger than Europe and there are plenty of opportunities to be had.
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in five years' time?
We plan to expand our services into Africa and South America.