Aquaforest, a software development company based in Aylesbury, now has customers across 50 countries worldwide following its latest success in the UAE.
The company’s software makes it easier for businesses to locate documents on platforms such as Sharepoint and they now supply 2,000 businesses outside of the UK, including airline Lufthansa in Germany, Assemblée Nationale (The French National Assembly) and Fujitsu in Japan.
Aquaforest was created in 2002 and the firm’s first ever sale was in the US. It now attributes most of its £600,000 turnover to overseas sales. To secure further overseas growth, the business is aiming to increase its export sales by 20% annually over the coming three years.
Aquaforest’s export success has been supported by the Department for International Trade (DIT) which worked with the business to grow its customer base in the US by providing market research support and helped Aquaforest set up face-to-face meetings through the British Embassy in the US.
More than half of Aquaforest’s overseas customers are now in the US and include the US Senate, National Labour Relations Board and US Department of State.
The company currently employs six full-time employees in Aylesbury and will be expanding its recruitment efforts in 2019.
Neil Pitman, managing director of Aquaforest, said: “With 92% of the world’s software market outside of the UK, we knew that if we really wanted to grow our company we would have to begin exporting. As things turned out, our very first customer was in the US, so exporting was immediately part of our business.
“There are some challenges, though. We couldn’t have landed our sale in the Middle East without offering Arabic product support, and we couldn’t test this without help. We ended up working with local colleges in the Middle East to do this, which was incredibly useful.
“You also have to go out and find customers. DIT’s introduction service in the US was invaluable in this respect. Our International Trade Adviser (ITA) Meirion Jenkins has a vast range of knowledge on the US market and we wouldn’t have been able to immediately identify potential customers without his support. He also introduced us to the British Embassy in the US who helped start conversations with customers, adding a level of legitimacy.
“We generally sell remotely, so with limited face to face exposure to our clients it’s extremely useful to know that we have on-hand support and market knowledge through DIT as and when we need it. I very much believe that if we can export, many others can, or should at least try.”
Ben Raby, head of the South East, DIT, said: “Seeing Aquaforest enter its 50th export market is great news. What makes this even more significant is that the Middle East was one of the business’ key target markets after the US.
“The business has been global from birth and it doesn’t view borders as a challenge for selling its product.
“Aquaforest has shown that by making the most of the support that’s out there, the world really is at your fingertips. I would encourage any business considering taking the first or next step on their export journey to get in touch with their local DIT office to see how we can help.”