Business gets a Minty bit stronger for digital agency
From an Abu Dhabi technology college to a Saudi Arabian steel giant, a London digital consultancy and web design specialist has Middle East success all wrapped up.
Overseas sales are spiralling upwards for Kentish Town-based MintTwist and Middle Eastern work is now worth 10% of global turnover. Exports to Europe, worth £150k last year, look set to triple for 2012.
Last year, MintTwist, which employs 35 people, expanded to set up a UAE office near Sharjah airport after the initial help and advice from UK Trade and Investment.
A full time regional manager is now in place to manage contracts to design and market the websites of Middle East companies such as the Abu Dhabi Higher Colleges of Technology, Saudi Arabia’s Yanbu Steel and UAE-based Swift Freight.
As well as the Middle East, MintTwist are exporting extensively in Europe including Switzerland, France, Germany, Portugal and Italy, with 15 European clients to date. These include Swiss security firm Kaba, French-based cosmetics company Marionnaud, Dutch retailers Kruidvat and Luís Borges Seguros, based in Portugal.
As further kudos for the company, managing director Elliott King will address the annual meeting of the UN Communications Group at the UN European HQ in Geneva in June to help discuss the future of mobile communication for the UN and its partner organisations.
When King first had designs on doing business in the Middle East he contacted UKTI London.
He said: "UKTI told me they would send over a local International Trade Advisor. From previous experience trying to sell into the public sector, I had some reservations. However, within minutes, the ITA had a considerable grasp of our business, asking relevant and challenging questions."
King continued: "We developed a relationship over the weeks and months and I realised the enthusiasm and passion of the people that worked there. It was tremendous and inspiring to see that. UKTI really helped us push ahead with our export plan and gave us confidence."
Helping target relevant potential partners, suppliers and contacts for their business, MintTwist benefited from an OMIS (Overseas Market Introduction Service) King said: "Through the OMIS we ended up with 10 high quality meetings in the Middle East.
"We returned to the UK excited and set up a meeting with a potential reseller. We went on to set up a registered website and a few months later we were getting enquiries."
However, it was not all plain sailing and King learnt a valuable lesson in choosing partners carefully.
He said: "We were actually advised not to partner up with the first person we met; to do more research and considered planning. This sounded boring, so we ignored the advice. It went wrong and held us up for 12 months."
An EMRS (Export Marketing Research Scheme) then helped the company conduct some in-depth marketing research when looking at new markets.
King explains: "Through the EMRS scheme we developed a considered and detailed market research plan and half the costs were covered. We ended up with 45 meetings in 20 days. UKTI also helped turn the research into a business plan and it helped us enter the UAE with confidence."
With continued UKTI support MintTwist has grown into a full service, international digital agency. It has won contracts to help hundreds of SMEs and a growing number of very large multi-national clients across the UK and the rest of Europe, the Middle East and the US.