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Trail-bike startup revs global sales with Berlin launch

LANDING PADS CASE STUDY

Trail-bike startup revs global sales with Berlin launch 

Small manufacturers can have a world-first product and great branding — but overseas markets just won’t open up. Sometimes the only way to break through is to go direct to the biggest potential customers, find the relevant people and show them the product in person.

Click ‘n’ Ride is a startup based in Jindabyne in rural New South Wales. The idea for the company came from off-road biking, which is popular in the area. With riders regularly snapping off indicators in wooded areas, Managing Director, Dan Zylinski saw a market for clip-on indicators.

‘Our idea took off,’ says Zylinski. ‘Since September 2015, we’ve built Click ‘n’ Ride into an Australia-wide business supplying detachable bike indicators to 150 dealerships. By late 2017, we wanted to start exporting to much bigger markets in Europe and North America. 

‘We had a problem, however: we had a good grip on production and branding, but we couldn’t gain traction with overseas distributors. Our emails went unanswered. Proposals were ignored.’

The power of personal introductions

In August 2018, Zylinski and his colleague decided to go and knock on doors in Europe. 

‘As a first step we contacted a local business network, and this led us to Austrade and their export readiness programs,’ says Zylinski. ‘The Austrade representative said we should apply to the Landing Pads program. We got approval within three weeks; by early September we were in Berlin.’ 

ClicknRide2

Wilkomen for first-time exporters

The Landing Pads program is designed for Australian exporters who are ready to export into foreign markets, but need help making commercial contacts.

‘We are a small company, and the Berlin Landing Pad gave us the backing and support we needed to establish a physical presence in Europe and connect one-on-one with distributors,’ says Zylinski.

Participation brought two different forms of support: physical premises and professional advice. Austrade contracted with a local shared-office, worskspace provider – Betahaus, in Kreuzberg – that gave Zylinski the space, the connectivity and the equipment he needed to work day-to-day. 

During the first two weeks, Betahaus also provided mentoring sessions on some of the cultural aspects to working in Germany. This included briefings from legal and marketing professionals. 

The Landing Pads Austrade manager gave practical, day-to-day, commercial assistance. This proved especially important since neither Zylinski nor his partner spoke any European languages. The manager translated documents, facilitated meetings and made connections — including to distributors outside Germany. 

‘The Austrade manager helped us set ourselves up for two trade shows that turned out to be game-changers for us: INTEROMOT in Cologne; and Eicma in Milan,’ says Zylinski. ‘This support helped us to fine tune our presentations and influenced how we approached potential partners.’

The indicators proved a hit. During Zylinski’s last few weeks in Germany, Austrade helped him consolidate the interest generated at the trade shows, and step through the formal processes of engaging suppliers throughout Europe.

Physical presence leads to physical orders

Within two months of returning to Australia, Zylinski and his partner had signed agreements with distributors in Germany, UK, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, Italy and countries across Eastern Europe.

‘Landing Pads gave us the one thing we needed – direct engagement with customers,’ says Zylinski. ‘Thanks to our presence in Europe, our indicators are now in distribution catalogues for our target markets as we approach the northern hemisphere summer. We have already shipped our first supplies and we anticipate further orders as soon as sales start.’

Professional help — when and where it’s needed 

By providing ultra-rapid support in a target market, the Landing Pads program has ignited exports for Click ‘n’ Ride. 

‘Landing Pads has been an enormous help,’ says Zylsinki. ‘The Landing Pad program was the catalyst we needed when remote forms of communication and introductions got us nowhere. Now we have a distribution network in Europe that’s commercially locked in and ready to go.’

In a roundabout way, the Landing Pads program has also proved a launch pad for sales to the US.  

‘The noise we generated in Europe spread across the Atlantic, and before we got back to Australia we started to get calls from America,’ says Zylinski. ‘The global impact from Landing Pads has been a huge value-add for us.’

In-country expertise 

In Zylinski’s judgement, the Austrade Landing Pad program manager - and the connectivity to other Austrade offices - was pivotal to company’s success.

'As a small business, having the experience and backing of Austrade opened doors and put us in front of the right people,' says Zylinski.

‘The Austrade manager was passionate and helpful,’ he adds. ‘He always looked after us, and did what it took to get us in front of the right people.’

The impact on Click ‘n’ Ride has been electric. From a standing start, the company has set itself up to address a market ten times larger than Australia. 

‘In a matter of just a few months, we have transformed ourselves from a small business in Jindabyne into an international business,’ he says.

Find out if your business could benefit from Austrade’s Landing Pads program