Case Study: UK edtech company lands in Australia

London-based education software company, Firefly, is finding Australia a perfect platform to grow and expand its international presence. The new Sydney office has enhanced the company’s ability to support its customers across the globe, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Launched in 2011, Firefly – a learning platform, parent portal, intranet and learning management system all in one – has proved highly popular in hundreds of schools across the United Kingdom.

To grow global sales further, Firefly executives wanted a permanent presence overseas and an office able to provide local support to its growing international customer-base, so the Asia-Pacific region became the focus.

Firefly executives reviewed two options, Singapore and Australia.

“We chose Australia as a first step abroad because it’s a great market for new software and we knew there would be few, if any, cultural barriers.”

According to Souter, the education sectors in both countries have established reputations as early adopters of technology and were good business and cultural fits.

“Australian education is open to new entrants and not afraid of market disruptors. We witnessed a great cultural attitude, and Australian schools always seem willing to try something new. We found genuine enthusiasm for new technology and it didn’t matter where it came from,” he said.

Location location

“With an office on Australia’s east coast, we can easily provide 18 hours of live technical support to teachers around the world without asking employees to work out of hours. This is extremely valuable to a software services company,’ said Souter.

Second, with cloud services expanding, the time difference enables the company’s Sydney-based technical staff to execute server updates outside of the United Kingdom’s business hours, avoiding disruption to its customers.

Souter added lifestyle as another powerful attraction. “Australia is a great secondment location for London-based employees, and our employees are keen to work here.“

Ease in establishing a new office

The company wanted to ensure their new office was operational quickly, so it turned to Austrade’s London office for advice.

“Austrade were really great. They gave us the information we needed to set up in Sydney. They introduced representatives from NSW Trade and Investment; put us in touch with lawyers who helped with working visas; and helped us understand how the schooling system works in Australia - particularly school budgeting cycles,” said Souter.

Access to the Asia-Pacific region

The new Sydney office became operational in early 2015 and Firefly has commenced building a sales and training team, which will market the company’s technology to Australian schools and provide ongoing support.

“Once we are established in Sydney, we will use the office as a base for expansion into Asia,” said Souter.

“It will be easy to hire the sort of people we need to spearhead that expansion because of the common language and culture. The new Sydney office also means we will benefit directly from Australia’s links to Asia,” added Souter.