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Meet Koala Eco: NBN Co's Glocals Academy Mentorship Winner!

It’s time to announce the winners of NBN Co’s Glocals Academy Mentorship competition, and first up we have a Sydney start-up creating kid-safe, environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Whether you are a big business, a small start-up or even just a hobbyist looking to supplement their income, the nbn™ broadband access network presents a world of opportunity. Literally.

Fast broadband is the gateway to expanding your business not just out of your local area and across Australia, but overseas – and all without ever having to leave your office. The concept is called Going Glocal; where you stay local, but go global.

While fast broadband certainly greases the wheels for a smooth expansion of your business into new markets, there’s plenty more to understand before you can successfully go Glocal. That’s particularly true if you’re looking towards lucrative overseas markets with very different languages, laws, cultures and ecommerce portals than what we are used to in Australia. Markets like China, where there are 57 potential customers for every one customer down under.

With almost half of Australia’s businesses planning to sell their products or services into foreign markets over the next 12 months, NBN Co developed the Glocals Academy. This free service was hosted by CT Johnson, the managing director of Cross Border Management, with 25 years of experience exporting goods about the world. Through the course of six tutorial videos, he and a range of special guests took Australians through details of what they may need to know before looking to sell into China, and how to go about implementing those strategies.

The tutorials are essential viewing and, to add to the excitement, NBN Co also hosted a competition. It offered three lucky Australian businesses the chance to win six months of free mentorship to help them break into the Chinese market. Today, we are going to meet the first winner: Koala Eco.

What is Koala Eco?

Photo courtesy of Koala Eco.

“Ever tried to find safe, affordable, chemical-free cleaning products that smell fabulous and actually work?” asks Koala Eco founder Paul Davidson when asked to describe his product. “Well, we got so frustrated trying to find one we decided to make our own.” And with that one thought, Paul and partner Jessica Bragdon launched Koala Eco earlier in 2017.

“As we were, effectively, our own first customers, we had some pretty specific and sophisticated aims in mind,” Paul continues.

“We wanted to explore formulas derived from nature and sourced locally. It needed to look stylish and not damage the environment.

“We wanted something that would work flawlessly, of course. Plus we felt our two young sons shouldn’t have to hold their breath in order to not absorb chemicals every time we cleaned the family home.”

“Thankfully, Australia is an extraordinary treasure trove of botanical secrets, which we’ve delved into to create a range of superior cleaning products using sustainable native plants.

“We use high concentrations of potent essential oils so that our cleaners not only work with the full force of nature, but also leave your home smelling as aromatic as the Australian bushland.”

Koala Eco looks to the Chinese market
Taking your business overseas is the goal of 46 per cent of Australian businesses, and it was very much what Paul had in mind, too.

“The perceived premium nature of Australian products means that the margins on overseas sales are often much higher than those on local sales,” he explained.

“Aiming to be a global business gives you access to unlimited market potential. The sheer size of markets like China mean you only need to tap into a small percentage of your target demographic to realise a significant uplift in sales.”

With 72 per cent of small to medium businesses in Australia eyeing off China as their Glocal market of choice, fast broadband could be the key to success.

Certainly Paul is full of praise for what NBN Co has done for Koala Eco’s move into China.

“Our experience has been that our business partners in China prefer to communicate via web-based applications, such as Skype and WeChat.

“Having a plan over the nbn™ access network makes this a very simple task. We often need to share various multimedia marketing collateral, such as videos and high resolution images, too. With nbn, sharing large files is fast and easy.”*

However, Paul is under no illusions and realises that successfully expanding into China isn’t as easy as launching a product. “Like any small business owner, you are faced with a multitude of challenges on a daily basis.

“The key is to not be overwhelmed, stay focused, and tackle each problem as it arises. I don’t think this will be any different going Glocal into China.”

How winning the Glocals Academy competition will help Koala Eco

“I am so excited to have someone to speak to who has an intimate knowledge of penetrating the China market,” enthuses Paul when asked what winning the competition will mean to his business.

“It is much better to learn to avoid mistakes than to make them yourself. And starting your own business can be a lonely job. I love the thought of having someone to bounce ideas off and to help guide us in the right direction. By the end of the programme, I want to have a clearly articulated strategy for meeting our goals for going Glocal into China.”

For Paul, the mentorship will be the gateway that will lead Koala Eco into a successful expansion through China.

With access to fast broadband and the right knowledge on hand, the door is wide open.

“The potential is huge and I am nervous because I really want our business to succeed. I was already looking to sell into China, so this competition was the perfect fit for us. My approach is to not be daunted. To start slowly and to not be afraid of asking people for advice.”

So what will Going Glocal mean to Paul and Koala Eco? His answer couldn’t be more enthusiastic.

“It means that we can take our amazing products to the world… the sky is the limit!”