Belfast-based ICONI Software has grown its sales outside Northern Ireland to over a third of its turnover in the past 18 months with help from Invest NI’s Passport to Export programme.
The company, a specialist in bespoke software solutions for enterprise and regional development agencies, used Passport to Export to develop and implement a strategy designed to grow its external sales.
Liam Jordan, Managing Director of ICONI Software, says: “Developing business in Great Britain was the obvious next step for us once we had established a firm base within the enterprise agency network in Northern Ireland. While we recognised that agencies in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland had similar software requirements to those here, we needed to develop a greater knowledge of the market and of their specific needs.
“Our competitive edge is the ability to adapt our software quickly to the specific needs of individual clients. We needed to know more about agencies in Great Britain. Passport to Export helped us with expert consultancy support to develop a broader knowledge of the GB market. The support was invaluable. It gave us the knowledge and confidence to reach out and to turn potential clients into firm sales including some very influential organisations.
“As a result, our business in Great Britain has grown from four per cent to a third of turnover and we anticipate further growth over the next 12 months. We are also now exploring opportunities for our expertise and knowledge in the Republic of Ireland, where our software is already being used by the cross-border Tradelinks programme.
“Overall, we’ve found Passport to Export to be a very worthwhile programme. It has produced results for us,” he adds.
Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade Director, says: “Passport to Export is a programme of support that we have devised especially for smaller companies wishing to explore opportunities outside Northern Ireland. Companies can use the programme’s workshops and other activities to enhance capability in areas such as market research, lead generation and sales negotiation.
“Experts are available to assist with developing export plans and in the identification of potential business partners in target markets outside Northern Ireland. It also offers companies the opportunity to explore a particular market by means of trade missions and participation in sectoral exhibitions and meet the buyer type events.
“For smaller companies, such as ICONI Software, the programme is a very cost-effective and low risk route to export growth,” he adds.
Established in 2003 by Mr Jordan, a software engineer with extensive experience in small business development, ICONI Software now employs 10 people.
The company, a Microsoft Certified Partner, has developed a suite of software solutions geared to the specific requirements of enterprise agencies. Its products are endorsed by the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies (NFEA) and have been designed for the management of enterprise agencies, for programme management and the operation of business loan funds.
The company’s clients include Enterprise Northern Ireland, Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services (NWES) and other enterprise agencies throughout Great Britain.