From the beginning, Alexander Fernandes, CEO and founder of Avigilon Corporation, recognized that his company would need to expand internationally. Originating in Canada, Fernandes realized that his high-definition video surveillance company would thrive internationally due to the outdated technology that filled the industry at the time. There were so many high profile organizations where security had to be a main priority within industries from government agencies to airports, and they were forced to rely on equipment that produced grainy videos which decreased accuracy and security. Seeing this opportunity, Fernandes decided to create a solution that provided these companies with access to high quality images at a cost-effective rate. Knowing that this user friendly product would thrive not only locally within Canada and in North America, he recognized from the start there was an opportunity to eventually expand all across the world. Now Avigilon sells their solutions in over 80 countries, and here is an inside view on how they were successfully able to penetrate the global economy.
Even though there were a lot of profitable opportunities within Canada, Canada only represents less than 2% for the world’s GDP, so by staying just in Canada Avigilon would be shooting themselves in the foot. If people around the world have similar needs as those in Canada when it comes to security, and if they have a great product, why would they limit themselves? In order to target a larger market, and not just focus on the local market in Canada, Avigilon began building their products with a global perspective from the beginning. In order to expand internationally this step is essential to deliver products and services that will be applicable to different markets, but it is also important to focus on your primary market first to have a good foundation before you extend your reach. It wouldn’t make sense to go into an international market if you haven’t even exploited the opportunities local to you.
Global expansion does not just happen overnight, so it is important to formulate a controlled, logical progression that you will follow, just like Avigilon did. They started their process of global expansion by addressing the items that were the easiest to tackle first. So their first step was to expand into the North American market first. Being a Canadian company, they were eligible for Nafta which made it easier to expand into North America. Also included in their first step was the plan to expand to the UK because there was a common language and similar common law throughout, so the pairing seemed logical, and it paid off. Within the first 18 months of launching their plan they expanded quickly. Their success was made possible because they were financially stable and had a positive cash flow, it is essential to have this quality before moving forward or at least solid financing. Without this foundation it makes it harder for a company to successfully venture out. Another thing that must be conquered before expanding out of your native market, is to make sure that you have had success in your local market, without this success there is a good chance that the company will have a harder time abroad.
Once they successfully had strong roots in their initial targeted markets, Avigilon looked onto their next leap. After successfully establishing themselves in the UK, they used their presence and brand there to launch into the rest of continental Europe, as well as expanding into Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Avigilon recommends to focus on the “low hanging fruit” when it comes to expanding globally, meaning to start gaining profits and footing before expanding into the more challenging markets.
Along with international expansion comes a lot of unfamiliar procedures and practices. From languages, cultural challenges, laws and regulations will be different. In order to combat this Avigilon chose to hire people from local areas as experts to help create a smooth transition into the country, and to educate the company about specific and important information about conducting business in the new territory. This practice has been repetitively used when entering into a new foreign market and has proven to continue to be successful for Avigilon. It has allowed them to beat out competition and continue to advance expanding. These local employees bridge the gap between locations and provide valuable information that cannot be found anywhere else.
Even though they have had immense success globally, they realize there are still a lot of opportunities that are currently untapped. Not only will they continue to expand, but they are planning to increase their concentration and hire appropriately in order to grow their staff in current locations. With these plans in place, it seems that Avigilon won’t stop until they take advantage of every opportunity out there.