Asean, is the 10-country association of South East Asian nations, is hoping to create a single market by 2015, the Asean Economic Community (AEC) which will be the fifth most powerful trading bloc on the planet. The Spring edition of Enterprise Ireland’s magazine The Market took a look at some of the lead economies, emerging opportunities and irish experiences doing business in the region and needless to say Sonru’s operation in Singapore featured as a success story.
View the magazine in PDF format and find Sonru in the regional report of South East Asia on page 25 or read the transcript below.
Another Irish technology company targeting ASEAN, Sonru offers an online interview solution that replaces the first round of phone or on-site job interviews, allowing recruiters to reduce costs and hire times substantially. Founded in 2007 by Edward Hendrick, the company was listed as one of that year’s top 100 technology start-ups globally and has a client list that includes Volvo, Apple, Schroders Bank and Qatar Airways.
CEO of Sonru for Asia Pacific Luke Falvey describes the company’s success as linked to its offering of “a disruptive ‘new world’ technology, enabling immediate and tangible efficiencies”. Joining the board in 2011, he was the natural choice to head up operations in Singapore as part of an aggressive expansion strategy. Having garnered years of experience in the Asia Pacific region, initially with Diageo and Gallaher-JTI, and more recently through his consultancy firm Insight Strategy Ltd, Falvey is in no doubt that local advice and trusted knowledge is essential for Irish companies.
“Singapore is a relatively easy country to set up in and, sometimes, people fly out here thinking it will be a great place to make a quick buck. That never happens. The first thing you need is a trusted adviser who will tell you the lay of the land – if you don’t have that in place, you may get it wrong” Luke Falvey, CEO, Sonru Asia Pacific
Falvey also argues that, rather than “identifying markets”, Irish businesses need to think in terms of creating opportunity. “You need an enormous amount of patience while you are creating that opportunity, and you have to have access to the right data and be very focused,” he adds. If there is any commonality underlying the ASEAN countries, it is that “people do business with people they trust and respect here. You need to build that relationship first.”
Like others, Sonru has found the partnership route to be critical to gaining traction: “Partners come with clients and the resources to sell to them and to support them. We see our partners as an extension of our own sales team,” he explains.
With hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on infrastructure projects across the region, there are abundant opportunities for companies who have a unique product or service, he believes.
“If you are not afraid to come to ASEAN and to work with local partners; if you are willing to source the right information; and to invest the time and working capital needed, you will find success.”