Feargal Brady, Co Founder & Director of Blueface speaking at the upcoming Digital Transformation Conference, at the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin taking place on 8th June 2017 (see here more info and for tickets).
[email protected], an event organised by Mason Hayes & Curran focused on investment for quickly scaling companies – particularly those requiring significant investment for international expansion. The event raised a very interesting question, when – if at all – should Irish businesses go global – a topic that we at feel very strongly about at Blueface.
Many of the traditional global companies achieved multinational status in stages – usually the domestic stage was first, and once a solid base had been established, international expansion was the next logical step. Irrespective of the oft-cited global tech giants, most truly global companies have taken decades or more to develop.
This trajectory makes sense, and certainly reflects the (continental) European style of entrepreneurship which recognises that it takes time – sometimes a long time – to create a large valuable business.
— DLR Summit (@dlrsummit) May 29, 2017
Domestic Platform, Global Foundations
Many traditional industries such as automotive manufacturing achieved global status not just because they began with large domestic markets, but because they were also protected from external competition by their government’s trade protection policies.
This is very rare now, however it does help to partially explain the preponderance of global companies which originate from large domestic economies.
Obviously having a large domestic base is a great foundation to scale a company internationally. The US, the UK, Germany, Japan, China, with enormous and / or wealthy domestic markets, are the perfect examples.
The alternative to the slowly-slowly approach is the growth capital / venture capital method.
“Take on a large amount of funding – I call it nitro-funding – and go global immediately.”
While there is a case to be made for both, those businesses which were designed for a global market and which were born in the digital era, are more suited to rapid international expansion.
— 3XE Digital (@3XEDIGITAL) May 29, 2017
Cloud-based services are, almost by definition, globally available.
Scale Up, Measure Up
In Ireland we have a very small domestic market, and so opportunities to create businesses that generate €50 million annual revenue are rare.
Not impossible, but certainly rare.
There are tremendous examples of billion euro Irish businesses – CRH, Kerry Group, Ryanair, and Glanbia to name a few.
Many of these – in the food industry in particular – benefitted from an innate competitive advantage such as agricultural tradition, suitability and organisation.
In fact, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Michael Creed TD announced that Irish food and drink exports reached record levels in 2016.
Some of them were aided from quirks of fate and entrepreneurial brilliance. All of them however took time to build, and all of them are global businesses.
We believe that it makes sense to refine, perfect and grow in the domestic market, but to look overseas as soon as is practicable.
Firstly because it’s good to measure up against global peers. Secondly because change is good – it’s cathartic and challenging and this is how to learn and grow. And finally because it makes sense when the domestic market is so small.
Blueface has been around since 2004 and has always been a cloud-based company. Our platform is developed and designed by a multinational team, and our service is used all over the world.
“Blueface have always been global in nature.”
Now we are building on the foundations we’ve laid both in our domestic market, and in the overseas markets where we already operate.
It was always our goal to become a global company. And so it made perfect sense for Blueface to take on capital to drive this international growth.
We would encourage other Irish companies to follow this route, and take advantage of the tremendous funding opportunities available to great Irish companies with global ambitions.
Thanks to Mason, Hayes & Curran for organising such a topical, timely and informative event and for sparking this discussion.