SWAN Systems co-founder Ivor Gaylard had a problem: every time he attempted to speak with potential clients, they would assume his business was a competitor.
Nothing could be further from the truth. SWAN Systems developed technology to help manage water irrigation usage, collecting information from a variety of data points around building, farm and mining sites to optimise water usage and collection.
“They didn’t want to let us have the data,” says Gaylard.
Getting a foot in the door seemed impossible. That is, until Gaylard attended an Austrade Landing Pads event in Perth.
The program, Gaylard heard, was designed as a gateway for startups to enter new markets with professional guidance, advice, and, with help to establish key relationships with business contacts in a completely new environment.
Much of the equipment used by SWAN Systems is manufactured in Israel. Gaylard spotted the opportunity and applied to the Tel Aviv-based Landing Pads program.
Having help on the ground would help businesses see SWAN Systems was a solutions provider and not a competitor, Gaylard says.
“We are able to communicate now with potential customers we wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” says Gaylard. “Those are a direct result of the relationships built in Israel, no question about it.”
“There are specific accounts that we have now that we wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t known about the program.”
The Austrade Landing Pads program was designed around five specific “innovation hubs”, each in a different city: Tel Aviv, Berlin, Shanghai, Singapore, and San Francisco.
By applying to the program Australian businesses are given a 90-day residency in a co-working space, introductions to networks of investors, access to an Australian business community, and specialised advice to help grow a business in international markets.
Tel Aviv Landing Pads Manager Omri Wislizki says the Landing Pads program makes sense considering how Australian businesses are forced to think about global expansion from day one of starting a business.
“We definitely prefer to see people thinking globally from day one,” says Wislizki. “We want to see more Atlassians, we want to see more global businesses.”
The criteria for the program include being able to describe and communicate objectives and vision for growth, the ability to deliver a scalable product or service, existing sales and customers or investors and partners, and the ability to disrupt a new marketplace with a differentiated product.
Omri Wislizki says businesses applying to the program need to make sure their business is robust before they apply – but it’s okay if they’re adapting on the way.
“Ideally, yes, but there is a level for companies that think they can go to a market and be ready for scale, and may even be one or two stages before that,” he says.
“They have a working product, some traction, but they may not be 100% ready to scale.
Ivor Gaylard says among the numerous benefits of the program – including adding contacts that turned into paying clients – Landing Pads helped clarify how SWAN Systems could prepare itself for investors.
“We learned about the expectations of investors and how that works, talking to investors, and scaling in other countries,” he says.
Like Australians, Gaylard says, “Israelis have to think global from day one”.
“Investors have many different perspectives, and you need to pitch yourself accordingly,” he says. “There’s a lot of nuance to it all and we’re a lot clearer about how that works now.”
“Certainly that clarity has come from being in Landing Pads.”
“I think the people who get the most out of the program are those that are active,” says Omri Wislizki. “They leverage the partners as much as they can…and you really see the difference between founders who are actively engaging, versus the ones who are waiting for you to push them.”
The Landing Pads program provides market-ready Australian startups and scaleups the opportunity to land and expand into major global innovation and startup ecosystems, including San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Berlin and Singapore.