There were a number of high-tech digital businesses flying the flag for Scottish tech at the HSBC Scottish Export Awards - including Planys Cloud. BQ caught up with CTO Paul Barclay to find out more about the companies export success over the past three years.
What does your company do?
Planys Cloud is a software company that develops applications for web and mobile. Award-winning projects include ClickGo, an online system that brings innovation to the way care provision is delivered.
The system, which we developed with charity Carr Gomm, allows care managers and families to coordinate care arrangements. Carers and family members can dynamically interact online to ensure user’s needs are being met. ClickGo was a Google Impact Challenge finalist in 2014 and a finalist in The Herald Digital Business Awards 2015.
Business Hound is our Application for small businesses that helps them manage their invoices, receipts, mileage and expenses; no more shoeboxes full of receipts at the end of the financial year!
Another example of an Application that we developed with Miconex, is one that allows digital communication and marketing by Business Improvement Districts such as Essential Edinburgh with their customers, both visitors and local residents.
How long has the company been exporting?
Nearly three years.
What do you currently export, and where to?
We build and export bespoke html5 applications that allow manufacturing companies to automate processes and calculations in the sales cycle.
We look at the stages they need to go through to provide estimates to clients and then integrate all that information into one platform so that a geographically dispersed sales force has the latest components, cost and pricing information and can provide more accurate quotes.
This shortens the sales cycle which helps close the sale and creates more accurate costs. Equally important is the data the system can collect to inform the sales and marketing strategy.
We currently export to the United States and Singapore, more specifically, the storage and distribution sector in the oil and gas industry.
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
Because most of our work can be done remotely there were fewer barriers to exporting. Diversification was a motivation and we were interested in the North American market because it has huge potential and there are no language barriers.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
As a software company that develops Applications for web and mobile almost all of our work is done online so it’s perfect for exporting. Lots of exporters in other sectors have logistical issues dealing with international couriers or distribution agents but we don’t have any of those challenges.
And the most challenging part?
Face to face meetings are really important in building the relationship but arranging them can be challenging. As part of our sales strategy I regularly visit trade fairs in Singapore, Ghent and Rotterdam and I can catch up with clients at these fairs.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
Our clients are English speaking and we always invoice in US Dollars so we haven’t really had any problems as far as language and currency are concerned. American banks don’t seem to be set up to do BACs payments so we resolved that by getting payments in cheques.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
We haven’t so far but we are hoping to attend Scottish Enterprise and SDI events for further research and networking opportunities.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Make sure you go and meet your clients face to face or go and visit the market first. Research the best international trade shows - we make sure we go to ones attended by the key decision makers and have found them really beneficial; we didn’t book an exhibition stand, instead we just visited the exhibitions and chatted to potential clients.
That we didn’t export earlier.
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?
We’re looking at securing more clients in the United States and we’re also researching Australia as a potential market.