Alexander Bradley and Stephen Westwood launched Cobra Simulation in March 2012. The business which designs, manufactures and deploys technology for the simulation industries, now operates across the globe. Alexander took some time to tell BQ more...
Alexander Bradley and Stephen Westwood launched Cobra Simulation Limited in March of 2012.
Following the loss of Alexander’s first business, aB Simulation, he decided to launch a brand new start up in partnership with one of his supporting suppliers-Bennett Mirrors Technology.
The tech firm offered to support the new business if additional funding could be found, and if Alexander could design a brand new product.
Cobra Simulation now designs, manufactures and deploys solutions for immersive visualisations in the simulation industries, and exports its products to America, Asia, New Zealand and throughout Europe.
"You don’t often get second chances in life so you have to grab it with both hands," explained managing director Alexander.
"We raised the other half of the money and along with an intensive product and brand development cycle launched the Cobra Curved Display- a 1.8m panodome desktop projection screen compatible with a wide range of projectors, existing content and simulation solutions."
For Alexander, exploring the overseas market was always something that was on his mind.
"The immersive market is a global one, it would be difficult to survive with such a niche product without exporting," he said. "My family is multicultural and trading internationally has long been an ambition."
The firm began exporting in its first month of trading back in Q4 of 2013. Its initial overseas order resulted in a shipment of 10 units to Cobra Simulation’s USA partner The Elumenati.
"Primarily our 1.8m panodome to all corners of the Globe, including the middle east, oceanic, Asia, EMEA, Americas. Around 70% of our sales are attributed to exports," said Alexander.
For Alexander exporting wasn’t as complicated as it may seem initially.
"Once you get your head around the fact that actually trading internationally is almost identical to trading internally the only difference is the distance and some extra costs along the way most of which are covered by your client.
"It’s not as scary as people think, personally I jumped in with both feet and learnt by getting my hands dirty. However four years on am still learning."
He points out that while most places are relatively easy to set up an overseas relationship with, there are still some challenges.
"The most challenging part of exporting is countries where trade agreements are surrounded with a great deal of procedural red tape.
"Most places are pretty easy to trade with others have much stricter import controls. You overcome those challenges by ensuring that you work closely with your client/ partners at the local level."
Cobra Simulations was also supported by a range of government led bodies including SDI,Scottish Enterprise, Global Scots, LESL, West Lothian Council and Edinburgh City Council.
Looking to the future the firm plan to further expand its footprint in the American markets, and are planning on a full business re-launch, with an offering of new products and a website.
Offering a word of advice to other businesses hoping to export, Alexander said: "Don’t be scared, ignore the horror stories, the cash that comes from export is spent the same as the cash that comes from the UK.
"Remember regardless of culture, race or religion we are all just people, people that go home to their families after work, they have a sense of humour just the same as the rest of us.
"You don’t always have to be so formal. Just be friendly, patient, understanding and helpful first then the business comes after. The only way you will learn is to get stuck in."
Exporting and international trade remain high on the Scottish Government’s economic growth agenda and the Scottish Export Awards, in association with Scottish Enterprise, are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.
To book your ticket for the awards, click here.
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