Melbourne start-up Annex Products has signed a worldwide distribution partnership with Forward Industries, a multinational mobile tech firm, for its iPhone-related products.
Annex Products, founded by Rob Ward and Chris Peters, is the maker of the Opena Case – an iPhone case that doubles as a bottle opener – and an iPhone mount named Quad Lock.
Earlier this year, the pair travelled to the United States in a bid to raise the profile of their products, attending the Consumer Electronics Show and Macworld iWorld 2012.
The ultimate goal of the trip was to secure distribution deals with major US retailers – a goal that has been achieved.
Annex Products has announced an exclusive worldwide distribution partnership with Forward Industries, a global provider of mobile technology solutions.
Both the Opena Case and Quad Lock will continue to be sold online, while major US retailers will also stock the products.
According to Ward, Forward Industries will also be pushing distribution through its extensive international sales channels.
“We met with a number of different distribution partners while at CES… We decided that the Forward proposition suited us the best, so we flew to Santa Monica in LA to hash out the contract,” Ward says.
“It took us four days to all agree on a final agreement that benefited both companies, and work in every different situation.”
Ward says he and Peters chose Forward Industries because it has an established international team, with people on the ground in all of their target markets.
“We also liked the fact that they too are a young and enthusiastic team looking to move quickly similar in a fast-paced market,” he says.
“Dealing directly with Brett Johnson, the CEO of Forward Industries, was extremely encouraging and gave us the confidence to sign the global distribution agreement.”
According to Johnson, his company’s strategy is to partner with inventors to promote and distribute their intellectual property through its global distribution network.
“Annex is a perfect example of such a partnership,” Johnson said in a statement.
“Our goal is to accelerate the success Annex has achieved with their Opena Case and Quad Lock innovations in the global consumer electronics marketplace.”
Ward says the biggest challenge he and Peters faced was trying to secure a distribution partnership from Australia.
“Our biggest challenge was that we were being approached by so many different companies from all over the world that it was hard to know who had the best offering,” he says.
“The best move we made was traveling to the US for CES 2012 as we were able to meet face-to-face with distributors, and ascertain their size and reach in the market.”
Ward urges other start-ups to take their time when doing deals with distributors, highlighting the value of travelling to the US.
“Don’t rush into anything as almost everyone will ask for an exclusive deal, which is fine but only if you sign with the right distributors,” he says.
“Being an online business, many meetings and general business dealings have been conducted over Skype, but our time in the US made it clear to us that meeting face-to-face is still a very important part of doing business internationally.”