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Finding partners in other countries can help export business

Emerging Irish companies looking to conquer export markets could benefit from teaming up with partners on the ground in each territory, according to Grant Kinsman, chief executive, H2 Compliance.

‘‘In our early days, we teamed up with strategic partners in the US, who could identify potential clients who needed our service,’’ said Kinsman.

‘‘That worked fantastically well. They referred us to an enormous number of clients. In our area, you actually have to be based in the EU, so those guys could not provide the service themselves.That helped us get really good clients very quickly.’’ Kinsman said H2 used a variety of routes to market, often running workshops overseas to attract new business.

Attracting an audience

‘‘Workshops are a really good way to attract an audience, which is genuinely interested in the topic,’’ he said. ‘‘Just recently in both San Francisco and New Jersey, we had 30 or 40 people spending three to four hours with us.

‘‘These are not selling type events, they are more about explaining the company’s obligations and the solutions available.

‘‘We try to make it relevant based on their particular products or problems. That has been very effective for us.’’

H2 Compliance was established by the company’s chief technology officer John Hayes and chief operating officer Kevin Hoban in June 2006. The firm employs ten people in Dublin, Cork and New York, helping them to fulfill works with more than 100 clients their obligations under EU chemical and environmental regulations.

Kinsman said that the majority of the company’s customers were US headquartered firms operating in the pharmaceutical, IT, mining and natural resources sectors.

He believes that much of the firm’s success has been down to the impact of the EU-wide Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (Reach) Directive, agreed in December 2006.

‘‘Reach was going to be enforced in 2008, and we very quickly spotted the business opportunity that had arisen and were first movers on to that landscape,’’ he said. ‘‘As first mover, you can educate, train and develop potential customers and bring them on board as a client over time.

‘‘Reach has multiple registration requirements and deadlines up to 2018 and it will continue to run after that. Once you have established a client and what services they require, the work recurs each year over multiple years.’’

National Small Business Awards

H2 has been short-listed as a finalist in the Services Category of the Small Firms Association’s National Small Business Awards 2011.

‘‘Last year was a key milestones in the Reach directive for classification and notification of particular substances or chemicals,’’ said Kinsman. ‘‘We knew that would lead to some additional registration this year and it has proven that way.’’

The company has also secured sales for its own software tool. ‘‘As we delivered our solutions using a very productive piece of software, some of our clients said: ‘that is what we need in our environment’, so we have ended up licensing our own software branded Element1 to a number of different clients, although originally that was not a focus,’’ said Kinsman.

‘‘We are now a multi-million euro company. We are more than e1 million, but not e10 million yet. We will continue to add resources, with maybe one or two hires next year.

‘‘We have made a significant investment in rebranding all marketing collateral ahead of marketing campaigns in North America, Europe and emerging markets in 2011. Over the next two to three years, we will be looking at other related pieces of legislation we could again take first mover advantage on.’’

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