For many years, US technology companies have been selling software and services in Australia, while most Australian technology companies have largely serviced a domestic market. Now, the tide is turning and many startups are wondering what they can do to reach over 300 million consumers in America who may also be interested in their product.
One of the Internet’s biggest impacts over the past 20 years has been to tear down boundaries, particularly geographically. It has allowed us to operate our businesses in ways that weren’t even dreamt about 50 years ago, and opened up the entire globe as a potential market, when once you would have been limited to your local community.
Like any evolution, this has changed the way business is conducted. Traditional bricks and mortar retail outlets are seeing declining sales, while online retailing explodes in popularity. As an example, Amazon reported back in April 2011 that it was selling 105 e-books for every 100 printed books.
This ‘E-retailing’ is indisputably the way of the future, and what’s not to like about it? Without the need for physical shop fronts, a lot of the big overheads associated with traditional retail quickly vanish. No need for shop premises, sales staff, displays or point of sale equipment. Going online also means traditional shopping hours are out the door; you’re now able to sell 24×7 AND work the hours that you want. Not only are you more available, you are now able to service people anywhere in the world.
Shipping physical products is all well and good, but there are also vastly larger opportunities for online services and web applications. The fastest-growing sector in online business is the market for subscription-based Software as a Service (SaaS) leveraging a business model built on the phenomenal economies of scale in this global online marketplace.
SaaS, or on-demand software, is a software delivery model that hosts software centrally (usually in the Cloud) and is often accessed by users through a web browser over the Internet. SaaS has become a common delivery model for most business applications.
Australian startups such as Grad Connections, Australia’s leading graduate job board, and Affinity Live, an Australian-based SaaS platform, are taking the American market by storm.
“While we’ve got users in over 80 countries, around half of the companies using our online business management software are US based,” said Geoff McQueen, CEO of AffinityLive.
“Our customer base in the US is growing rapidly since our product came out of beta only recently, and since our customers rely on our product to manage so many aspects of their professional services business, we need to be absolutely certain we’re delivering a web experience that loads as quickly and reliably for US customers as it does here in Australia,” McQueen said.
This is just the beginning for Australian tech startups expanding into overseas markets. As hosting providers set up points of presence in the United States, businesses like Grad Connections and Affinity Live can for the first time enjoy fast website load times and superior presence in America and Australia.
When you look back on this time in another decade, you’ll see this was the turning point, when Australia’s best technology startups truly went global.
Keiran Holloway, is the Managing Director of Anchor.com.au. Anchor is an independent Australian hosting provider, which has just established a point of presence in Los Angeles for Australian businesses to reach US customers.