UKTI Case Study – VetCT
Opening an office on the other side of the world might not be everybody’s first choice for expanding their company but for Cambridge-based VetCT, which brings specialist teleradiology and telemedicine services to vets, an Australian office offered an opportunity to offer a 24/7 service.
The company was launched in 2009 and now has a team of 30 specialists and seven support staff providing detailed expert X-Ray, MRI and CT reports to vets.
Before thinking about expanding into Australia it was already using Australian specialists and had built up a client base in Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and China as well as enabling provision of a 24-hour service to all of its global clients.
“We already had a solid client base so it made sense for us to have an office with people on the ground to service these clients,” says the company’s director Julien Labruyère.
“We were, however, a little bit scared of the prospect particularly because of our lack of knowledge in areas such as legal issues.”
This is where UKTI East came in. “UKTI is based in the same building as us – St John’s Innovation Centre – and had approached us in the past and suggested some networking events, which we found very helpful. It’s a renowned and strong organisation and its national advertisements are even found on Eurostar.”
Following a discussion with international trade adviser Dave Revitt any fears were allayed and VetCT decided to give it a go.
“UKTI made us think it was possible. ‘If this is what you’d like to do’ they said, ‘we can help’. They really motivated us and showed us what was possible to do.” UKTI helped the team through the process, coming to meet them every month and giving them introductions.
VetCT used the Passport to Export scheme, which provides new or inexperienced exporters with training, planning and support to grow their business overseas.
“This was fantastic, we got introduction to an entrepreneur that did the same as us to share his experience, introductions to lawyers and accountants, bankers for the legal and logistics and support marketing in Australia,’” explains Julien.
“Australia is a large country and it was difficult to know where to be and how to set up the business. At the end we created a new subsidiary company.”
UKTI East also posted an ad on its website to help recruit staff. The office is now up and running in Perth in Western Australia with three staff.
One of the biggest advantages of the new office is that the company can offer a 24/7 service in both Europe and Australia.
“This is a huge selling point for us,” says Julien. “We wanted to avoid our European specialists working overnight but still be able to offer overnight cover. A dog can be scanned in Australia overnight and have a diagnosis made in the UK during the day with a four-hour turnaround time and vice versa.”
UKTI has now given Vet CT the confidence to explore even more markets, starting with the US. “We need to think how to tackle the USA,” says Julien.
“It’s a very big market and, unlike Europe and Australasia where what we are doing is new, there are already companies doing what we do.”
A bit closer to home the company is also looking at Scandinavia, which already accounts for 30 per cent of the company’s turnover. Julien believes that the expansion wouldn’t have happened anywhere near as quickly without the help of UKTI.
“They have connected us to the people we needed. We would have found them ourselves but it would have taken us longer. They have been a growth accelerator for us.”
VetCT continues to take advantage of these services, including a course helping them with their web presence. “The course helped us think how to develop our website for other countries and also put us in contact with someone who has been able to offer us advice about increasing our Google ranking,” adds Julien.
They are also looking forward to taking advantage of having access to the British Consulate room in Sydney. “You couldn’t find a better place to host a reception” says Julien.
Julien would recommend UKTI to anyone thinking of growing their business overseas. “For minimal cost the amount of information we received has been great. I can’t praise UKTI enough.”
It was also a positive experience for UKTI’s Dave Revitt. “This was a great company to work with who really appreciated our help and are now successful in Australia and the wider region. They could have done this without our help but it would have been a slower process.”
Founded in 2009, VetCT provides specialist telemedicine services for veterinarians all over the world. Expert reports for radiographs (X-rays), MRI and CT scans are delivered with a guaranteed rapid turnaround time. VetCT also provides specialist telemedicine advice and offers 3D printing for veterinary applications.
The company operates from two bases: one in the UK and the other in Australia, to provide 24-hour continuous service to their veterinary clients. The high quality reporting service coupled with the company’s unique educational approach sets them apart from others in this field.