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NBN Co's Glocals Academy winners Koala Eco

Catching up with Glocals Academy Mentorship winner Koala Eco

Across the country, fast broadband is opening up a world of opportunity for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Helping to tear down geographical barriers, access to services over the nbn™ broadband access network is helping many Australian operators to showcase and sell their products and services to foreign markets, all without leaving the office. Access to fast and reliable broadband services allows for communication with people around the world, helping to improve discoverability and potentially generating new sales.

Going ‘glocal’ – that is, working within a global market while operating locally – is a concept that’s embraced by 46 per cent of Australian businesses. It should come as no surprise, then, that as the nbn™ access network rollout edges closer to its 2020 completion, around 20,000 businesses a month are connecting to our network.

Global market possibilities

With 57 times the market size of Australia, China is one of the most sought-after expansion locations for Australian businesses, with 39 per cent indicating China as their preferred glocal target.

China has different laws, culture and language to Australia, though. That’s why NBN Co launched the Glocals Academy: a series of six free video tutorials led by experts to help Australian SMBs on their journey.

Hosted by the Managing Director of Cross Border Management, CT Johnson, the Glocals Academy also offered an exciting competition: a chance for three Australian SMBs to win a six-month mentorship to help pave their way to glocal success.

These winners – Screen Weaver, Koala Eco and Kemü Café – have completed their mentorships and we’re catching up with them to discover what they learnt.

What did Koala Eco learn?

Koala Eco has built its business around safe, affordable and chemical-free cleaning products with a ‘true blue’ Aussie moniker. This family-friendly philosophy has global appeal and has attracted the attention of Chinese consumers.

With the arrival of the nbn™ access network, Koala Eco founder Paul Davidson started exploring the idea of going glocal. When it comes to the topic of the impact of the Glocals Academy Mentorship, Davidson doesn’t mince words about how helpful it’s been.

“The experience has been brilliant,” says Davidson. “We generally met or spoke with CT Johnson once a week. He listened to our ideas and business plan, then provided guidance on how best to implement that plan – or suggested changes we can make to strengthen the plan and give us the best chance at success.”

“Don’t be afraid and don’t delay; there has never been a better time than now to go glocal.”
– Paul Davidson

Hurdles for Koala Eco to overcome

It’s a plan that’s had to be continually refined, as Koala Eco gets its head around the challenges they face with expanding into China.

“The main challenges are also some of the reasons we want to enter this market in the first place,” says Davidson. “The sheer size of the market means there are multiple distribution channels and multiple markets to consider.

“The language barrier is also a significant challenge to overcome. It’s important to find local Chinese partners to work with who both understand the market and have the contacts to bring our product to market.

“On a positive note, it’s not difficult with the help of the nbn™ access network to use all of the tools available, such as video conferencing.* The proximity of China also means it’s not too difficult to visit.”

These are challenges that Davidson believes the Glocals Academy has helped Koala Eco start to overcome.

“The Glocals Academy has given us access to people who know what it takes to take a business glocal and has enabled us to put together a much stronger and more focused strategy,” says Davidson. “Any small business owner will tell you that time is the limiting factor.

“Having the mentorship means we are able to move away from trial and error to having a clear strategy, which means we can focus our efforts on the areas that will provide us with the most value for effort. We feel that, with the help of the mentorship, we will be able to reach our goals far sooner that we otherwise may have.”

Despite evolving their knowledge over the course of the mentorship, it’s only reaffirmed the future Davidson sees for Koala Eco.

“Our goals remain the same,” says Davidson. “We want to take our products glocal and, in particular, to the Asian market. The difference is that we now have a much better plan to do so!”

Going glocal with NBN Co

With a plan in place, Koala Eco is now marching towards China (and beyond) with renewed confidence. Yet Davidson knows just how vital fast and reliable broadband is to that journey’s success.

“Being a start-up and working remotely requires us to use many online tools and programs,” says Davidson. “We’re frequently engaged in video conferencing, as well as marketing through social media, like Instagram and Facebook. We also use Google Hangouts and TeamViewer, the list goes on.

“Our graphic design and branding consultants are in North America, our analytics consultant is in Melbourne and we work with people all across Asia. We require fast internet services, such as those over the nbn™ access network and we’re really seeing the benefits of its quick response time*.”

Davidson has some parting advice for other SMBs thinking about expanding their horizons.

“Don’t be afraid and don’t delay; there has never been a better time than now to go glocal.”