Rob Law’s Trunki suitcases have been an international hit from the outset. It started from the moment that he posted up a press release on a popular design blog to gauge interest in in his concept of wheeled suitcases for young children. It immediately led to a full e-mail in-box and “crazy” web traffic.
“Our first international customer was the Museum of Modern Art who wanted Trunki for their store in New York because they had seen the blog,” he recalls. “Our original Australian and our Japanese distributor both came from that blog.
Heady international expansion in the early days of starting a business can be a dizzying experience. Law was bombarded by requests from distributors – he had inquiries from 30 Australian firms alone – and had little idea how to filter, choose and make approaches. He reached out to UKTI and went on the Passport to Export programme.
“We looked at our export strategy and very quickly chose to use distributors. We were aiming to build a global brand, so marketing was key – and distributors have the marketing expertise. We also built up a great questionnaire about how to filter through and appraise distributors.”
It is, as he says in this video, “an incredibly exciting but daunting time. So many sectors are now moving online and traditional distribution models need to evolve quickly.”
Today, about 15 per cent of Law’s time is focused on the international business. While his head of international sales drives the process, distributors around the world place great value on seeing the CEO and founder turn up. “My trips are mostly to demonstrate to the distributors how important they are to us,” he says.
Law plans to focus on some key large markets including China, Japan, France, Germany and North America. “We are scaling up our team, recruiting new people and looking at how we can work better with our distributors to get our products selling in its droves,” he says. In some of these markets, one thing that he would like to do in the future is to engage and use the British Embassy as a venue to invite local retailers and distributors. “It’s a great idea that we have yet to do but it will be part of our next stage,” he says.
UKTI has helped businesses such as Magmatic with advice and support in many aspects of exporting. Find export opportunities, events and practical guidance on the Exporting is GREAT site.