Go Global – Training course on SME Internationalisation and export management
Panel discussion 19th February 2020
Notes from the panel discussion with Chris Busuttil Delbridge (Evolve), Zach Ciappara (Freehour) and Tano Sammut (HSBC)
An international mindset
Companies that succeed in international markets adopt a mindset which is international in everything they do. Chris Busutill Delbridge explained that the market for specialised Labs in Malta was always going to be small, but it took the company some years to start believing that it has a service with international potential. Ever since the company developed their early opportunity in Sub Saharan Africa, they grew in the confidence and conviction that Evolve deserves to play at an international level. The company had a commitment to quality and digitisation before, which came very handy because it offered the company the necessary infrastructure to scale up. However, ever since this project was confirmed, the attitude of the team at all levels has changed and the whole company is now keen on living the values of being an international solution provider.
Freehour got the internationalisation bug when, immediately as they launched their app in Italian Universities, they got as many users as they had accumulated in Malta over two years. Today they realise that to tap the huge potential of international markets they need to continue challenging themselves and think in terms of their international clients in everything they do. Their commitment to developing customised content and fine tuning the functionality of the app is inspired by an international mindset which is now engrained in the company.
Deeply understanding customer needs
Both Freehour and Evolve fine tune their offering on the basis of present projects. Anticipating and exceeding client expectations has been pivotal to their success, whether on a business-to-business (Evolve) or a business-to-customer (Freehour) basis. The leaders of these two companies explained that they see their companies as addressing pain points through their serves, whether these are the need to build state of the art labs or to organise oneself around lectures and other University activities. Zach is aware that their internal capability to understand a student audience will require them to stay young at heart or employ younger people.
Chris is convinced that growth will come from making a 100% success of each project, with each installation serving as an opportunity to attract new projects and learn from its execution.
Growing by learning
Zach and Chris agreed on the tendency for companies to learn from their own experience and ensure that they grow step by step on the basis of such learning. Evolve invested in sophisticated ICT tools to facilitate its feedback and learning from an early stage. Freehour has that same capability in a natural way thanks to their size and start-up attitude, but they are already putting in place systems and processes that allow them to learn more and act fast, to remain ahead of the game.