Chicago success story ActiveCampaign expands to Sydney, urging startups to think global

A US startup success story is heading to Sydney, and advising others to think globally, too.

Chicago-based sales and marketing automation startup ActiveCampaign is opening its first international office in Sydney, in a bid to better serve its Australian and APAC clients. Chief executive Jason VandeBoom says the small business market, the talent pool and its existing customer base made Australia “the obvious choice” for its first attempt at global expansion.

ActiveCampaign has grown from 20 staff to 250 over the past two years, and the new Sydney office will bring up to 50 more into the mix.

VandeBoom puts this growth partly down to the startup’s global reach. He says only 45 percent of its clients are in the US, adding: “Australia is our second-largest market outside the US, beating the UK and others”. 

By having a base in Australia, ActiveCampaign plans to “serve the direct end user a bit a better, by actually being there,” both from a time-zone and talent perspective.

And, according to VandeBoom, ActiveCampaign can relate to its small-business and startup clients. He says: “A lot of our challenges are those that our customers have had, although on a slightly different scale”. 

It’s easy to fall into a trap of scaling a company either by only adding people or only adding automation, he says. It can be a challenge to find the right balance between automation and the “human touch”.

VandeBoom also places value on maintaining good relationships with peers in the startup world. He advises Australian startups to “think international from the get go”, but also to focus on “tapping into the local community” and interacting with other startups.

“It’s about finding that balance but also figuring out how to move forward rather than just thinking about it,” he says.

“If you have that resource – that hub of startups – hopefully you can glean something from them.”

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