From rural NSW to Europe: Getting international distributors to pay attention

Photo: supplied.

Motorcycle accessories manufacturer Click ‘n’ Ride wasn’t always a success story. Co-founder Dan Zylinski bought the business outright after his friend stepped away due to a challenging start-up period.

But with a focus on marketing, production, and branding, Zylinski quickly turned the company into a success with products sold by 150 dealerships.

The idea was a simple one: detachable indicators for motorcycles. Riders continually break them when going on trails, which means they’re exposed to fines. Detachable indicators keep bikers safe and driving according to the law.

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But despite the success, there was a problem: Zylinski couldn’t get any overseas distributors to pay attention.

“We were banging on doors, sending emails, sending proposals…sending all types of material to distribution partners,” he says.

“It’s just the paradigm in Europe that you don’t return emails for those kinds of unsolicited requests. Not a single email was even returned to us saying they had received it.”

Despite the wide reach of the internet, achieving a distribution deal is one of the best and most reliable ways to put your products in front of international consumers. But with such a small group of people in each industry, getting in front of them to discuss deals was difficult.

Until Zylinski came across the Austrade Landing Pads program.

“There was a mobile business enterprise centre that came into town, and I thought I’d have a chat to them about where we were in the business,” he says. “At that moment we were trying to reach international sales.”

Soon afterwards, Zylinski heard about the Landing Pads program. With just one day until applications closed, Zylinski said he “burned the midnight candle” to finish his application. But it was approved – and the business has never looked back.

“We’ve now engaged five different distributors from Europe, and that covers pretty much the entire continent. We’re still working on some pockets, but by and large we are there,” he says.

“Those agreements have converted into sales now. We’re expecting orders very soon, and because of the attention that generated within one month of returning from Landing Pads we had five different US distributors contact us.”

That is the real benefit of the Landing Pads program, Zylinski says – exposure. Once opportunities are realised, new opportunities become easier to grasp.

“You have that support network, you have access to mentors. I have the Austrade manager in Europe giving us massive support, even drove us to meetings,” he says.

Zylinski’s advice to aspiring exporters is “Make sure your business is export ready. That means you know your prices, you know who your customers are, your product is ready, and you identify the clear goal of what your intentions are.”

Australian Landing Pads

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.

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