The IIA International Strategy Working Group have created another case study. This time IIA Member Company Pigsback.com is featured. Jonathan Kyle of IIA Member Company Greenjobs.ie interviewed Michael Dwyer, CEO of Pigsback last December.
Dwyer shares some interesting insights about how having founded Pigsback in 2000 it turned out that the Dot Com Crash was not all bad for their company
as it allowed us to bring the Irish business to profitability and it also let us ensure that our product offering and business structure were strong enough for overseas expansion.
A salutary tale for the times we’re living in!
He also talks about what the company learned from their expansion into the very different markets of the UK and Canada.
Access the Internation Strategy Working Group’s resources to download the PDF and other case studies from the group.
The IIA International Strategy Working Group have released another great case study. This one focuses on MUZU.TV which frequent readers of this blog and our site will know were chosen as the 2009 Overall Net Visionaries. You can download a PDF of this case study from the Resources section of IIA.ie. One of my favourite parts of this case study was the response to the question:
What is the advice you would give companies starting out on Internationalization?Buy a suitcase, register for air-miles.
There is plenty of other insights into the strategy of this fascinating company who were “born global” as Caelen King from our previous ISWG Case Study on RevaHealth.com described his company.
This case study was compiled by Jonathan Kyle of IIA Member Company Greenjobs.ie. (who incidentally also won a Net Visionary award for 2009 Internet Entrepreneur!)
Did I totally rob that title from somewhere else?
The International Strategy Working Group had a very successful event last week about Winning International Business with the Web last week. You can find the event presentations in Resources section of IIA.ie and great post from Una Coleman here on the brill new Bloggertone about the key lessons from the day.
To support and continue advising businesses planning to go global the International Strategy Working Group (ISWG) are preparing a series of fact sheets, kicking off with the IIA Quick Fact Finder: Channel Partner Management For International Markets which is now available in the ISWG section of IIA Resources. This will be available to all for two weeks only and then will become a members resource.
Case study compiled by the IIA International Strategy Working Group reviewing the success and experience of Irish based entrepreneurs internationalizing their Businesses.
This case study is also available to download as a a PDF from the Resources Section of IIA.ie
Caelen King, interviewed below, is confirmed as a speaker in the IIA International Strategy Working Group’s upcoming event. Information about this event will be made available as the details are confirmed. Please see our events page or sign up for our Monthly Digital Digest and regular Events Alerts.
RevaHealth.com is a healthcare search engine – a web portal gathering and providing information about health clinics around the world, displayed comparably. In e-business terms, it is a pure play business – a company that originated and does business purely through the internet. There are lower barriers to entry but the internet affords smaller companies the ability to compete with much larger brands due to typically lower overhead and marketing costs.
Its revenue generating customers are health clinics, such as dentists, cosmetic surgery, medical tourism, laser eye care, chiropractors, fertility treatment to mention a few. Through the RevaHealth portal, clinics all over the world can have their services listed. The benefits to the customer are:
- Lead generation
- Building their brands online
- Savings in time and money
RevaHealth also takes care of the ultimate customer. The patient search is made easy. In the offline world, customers approach to information gathering is interruption based and time restricted. The prospective client rings the clinic, is often put on hold, asked to ring back later, or given information based on the time the clinician has between patients. And, it all happens during clinic hours as opposed to at the customer’s convenience. RevaHealth’s domain rich portal provides the customer with all the information he/she needs right there and then. It is a 21st century proposition responding to the demands of today’s customers.
RevaHealth has already aggregated all the relevant information for the patient by checking the clinics’ own websites: for instance to determine if they advertise their prices – they even phoned some clinics to see if they have parking, and they let patients share their experiences of the clinic. RevaHealth are experts in SEO and SEM (search engine optimization and search engine marketing).
RevaHealth is the technical online marketing partner of health clinics globally. It was set up in 2007 and now has over 110,000 clinics in 99 countries listed.
- Why internationalize – what were the drivers?
- the productization of healthcare,
- a growth in medical tourism,
- a socialized healthcare environment,
- demands by the consumer for greater choice and information,
- a fragmented market place.
- What markets did you focus on?
- What needed to be in place?
- A good enough back-end system.
- “A sound Business Plan that we returned to and iterated as our market knowledge grew”.
- No sacred cows: the business model evolved and significantly changed in the first trading year.
- What were the main challenges / obstacles? How did you overcome them?
- What activities were most successful in achieving success?
- Measuring everything.
- Following up on leads.
- Assessing the leads as prospects or not.
- Learning how to identify a “hot” clinic.
- What are your most effective routes to market and why?
- How did you win your first client?
- How influential was winning your first client in developing the market?
- What marketing initiatives have you used to support your internationalization?
- What were the key learnings? (legal, tax, language, culture)
- If you were doing it again, what would you do differently?
- What is the one piece of advice you would give companies starting out on internationalization?
RevaHealth was “Born Global” a term used to describe small technology oriented firms, targeting niche global markets as opposed to wide international markets and many industries, with little or no domestic market. The international experience of the founders weights heavily on the success of such companies.
RevaHealth’s proposition from the start was to become a global player. Its market opportunity in Ireland was always going to be small. It has operated in the international space from the start.
Caelen King also fits the profile to lead a “Born Global” company. He has previously worked with Baltimore Technologies, one of Ireland’s internationally successful indigenous technology companies.
A number of key market factors and drivers combined to create the opportunity for a new business offering to healthcare clinician providers:
The global healthcare market size is greater than €6 trillion.
RevaHealth selects territories based on market research and assessment. This is primarily desk research that it completes inhouse. It has broken down its markets as follows:
It also looks at markets where it can add value. Based on the outcome of its market research, it scrapes data from the web on local clinics to post on its site. For example, take a look at their list of plastic surgery clinics in the UK or dentists in the UK. “Traffic comes to our site in unpredictable ways” according to Caelen King. Understanding the value in a territory is a discovery process. “Hot spots” emerge. A market is formed when consumer traffic reaches a critical level.
Human Resources: recruiting and attracting staff. It was not about the money. It was a challenge to attract seasoned and experienced staff on both the sales and technical side: to bring that mature level of expertise to jump-start the business. Seasoned and experienced people were not interested in giving up job security and stability to join a start-up. The entrepreneurial drive exhibited by early stage applicants was low.
Revahealth went to the universities and sought graduates hungry to learn in a short period of time, in an entrepreneurial environment. Now, its growing public profile in the Irish market place, particularly in the technology community and the positioning of its founder, Caelen King, as an online technology guru, guarantees interest from prospective employees for the future.
Competition (lack thereof): “We didn’t have any real competitors in our space. In fact we would have almost paid for serious competition.” Competitors not only validate a business proposition and market – they also help build it. “We were bringing something new to our niche. Our clients and prospects were unfamiliar and wary of the model. We didn’t have the actual business case to substantiate our proposition. It was theoretical”.
“We gave away stuff for free. We clearly articulated this was another route to market for our clients – we would not be cannibalizing their existing business. We provided compelling feedback and demonstrated measurable ROI (return on investment)”.
Building domain knowledge: RevaHealth differentiate itself from other information portals through focusing on a niche and really understanding that niche. Its travel budget is spent almost entirely on building domain expertise about the territories in which it operates.
Initially, it had to pay for traffic to the site through google ads. SEO initiatives can take up to 18 months to build decent google ranking. Now, it has almost no google ad campaigns.
The sales process is roughly 2 months with 4 – 6 phone calls and 4 – 6 emails. Its sales staff are 3rd level graduates, young, smart and tech savvy. They are Dublin based and they speak at least two languages.
All sales activities are measured and visible. Peer performance is a good motivator. The key driver in the sales process is early completion.
RevaHealth is now looking at identifying Channel Partners as a route to market to support its sales and market growth objectives.
RevaHealth’s first client came about from a Belgian customer query about weight loss. The €500 spent on champagne celebrating that first and early win (after the site was up for just 3 months) far outweighed the €10 subscription fee. The client is still with them, now on an annual subscription of €1,500.
More than anything else, it gave the team a great confidence boost at that early stage. It also validated the business model, provided the business case and reference site to attract new customers. Winning early was enormously influential.
In the tradition of a pure internet play business, most of RevaHealth’s marketing is online: SEO and SEM with metrics underpinning all activities. Google is the 2nd most trusted form of information for consumers. Link building is also a key marketing task.
It is now looking at Channel Partners as a route to market and is starting to create marketing material to support its positioning as online technology experts delivering niche business processes to business driven healthcare providers. This will be a mix of offline and online marketing.
RevaHealth uses social networking platforms. Follow @revahealth & @phil_revahealth on twitter: it uses its blog, http://blog.revahealth.com/ to comment on technical issues and build its profile as online business process experts.
It has not localized either its website or marketing materials. However, all its sales staff speak at least two languages.
Concentrate on what you need today rather than focus on building for tomorrow.
The earlier and more frequent you make those sales calls the earlier revenue flows: the earlier you have reference sites to leverage and the sooner you learn and adapt the business model to client and market needs the more successful you will be.
As an international online business relationships are different. However, a lot can be done over the phone. While a script can be an aid to the sales staff, calls are almost never the same. Hire smart people, provide them with support and an environment to learn and be successful.
Stop worrying about the long-term and focus on what’s needed now.
Pick up the phone and make the sales calls – in volume and frequently. Close the deal in the shortest time.
 Web scraping transforms unstructured web content, (in HTML format for instance), into structured data that can be stored and analyzed in a central database. Web scraping is also related to web automation, which simulates human web browsing using computer software.
The IIA International Strategy Working Group had their inaugural meeting last month and they were straight out of the starting blocks!
Many Irish organisations are already generating significant revenues from International markets, but could we help you improve on this and how are you performing compared to the market?
The IIA International Strategy Working Group will be holding a seminar in the Autumn to help organisations better tap into international revenues using the Internet. In advance of this seminar, called “Growing international revenues using the Internet”, we are looking to identify how we can best meet your areas of interest. It would be great if you could complete our short survey.
Your responses are private and anonymised and will only be used by the IIA and the working group for this purpose.
Check back later in the summer for more details of this event. The Working Group will also post here regularly to keep you updated.
A guest post from Mark Rodgers, Chair of the International Strategy working group and Managing Director of Cipherion Translations outlining how the first meeting went.
The IIA’s International Strategy Working Group kicked off last week with our first meeting in the Digital Hub. It was duly noted that everyone turned up for the WG meeting on probably one of the hottest evenings of the year in Dublin. Managing to finish the meeting having overrun by a mere 30 minutes ensured that focus was maintained: keep it simple, just do what needs to get done.
The brightest hope for Irish organizations at the moment is to develop a more international strategy and start seeking new markets abroad. In fact many Irish organizations are already operating internationally – from Ryanair to the mom&pop craft organizations that sell into the USA. It’s no revelation to most that the internet is really making it a lot easier for Irish organizations to do business internationally – and this working group aims to bring some of that knowledge and information to a wider IIA audience.
Member of the working group include Una Coleman (Codega Consulting), Jonathan Kyle (Greenjobs.ie), Cathal Cronin (Realex Payments), as well as Eoin O’Siochru (Enterprise Ireland’s E-Business unit), Stephan Brennan (The Digital Hub Development Agency) and myself from Cipherion Translations.
We’ll be kicking off with a survey of members in August on what information / training members are seeking to help make the process of targeting international markets at a lot easier. We’ve already plans afoot for a Breakfast Seminar in October as a well as an Easy-To-Use-Guide that’ll have all the necessary information to help organizations take the next steps in reaching wider global audiences. Others have done it and it isn’t hard.
So keep an eye out for our activities, read about us online and if you have some experience or interest, get in touch with Roseanne, IIA Membership Manager.