Becoming International

- Written by Risto Jalovaara, CEO

Fastroi recently joined the Care England, a charity that represents independent care services in England. We are delighted to take another step into the UK market and we hope that we can share some of our experience from developing care management software in Finland over the last 15 years. So why did we decide to expand our operations to the UK in the first place?

A Ship in Harbour is Safe — But That is Not What Ships are Built For

The easy approach would be to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of 15 years hard work, after all, we’ve done it! Fastroi are the market leaders in Finland. Over 60% market share in fact! No one comes close! But that wouldn’t be the right way. History is littered with companies who squandered a market leading position because they didn’t keep moving forward and pushing themselves to better things. As a Finnish company, we don’t need to look too far from home to find a textbook example of a company who lost out simply because they failed to understand the changing market. Nokia were once synonymous with the mobile phone. They also had 70% market share and had even developed their brand to such an extent that people called their phones’ ‘My Nokia’ regardless of the actual brand! But they became complacent to the new threat from Apple and failed to see how touchscreen technology would become all conquering. The rest is history!

Something that we realized some time ago is that being in such a strong position in our home market can lead to complacency. This complacency invites new players in and starts to eat away at market share with new features, better service, lower cost and so on. If the new players are from outside the domestic market, then slowly and gradually they will be able to get a foothold in the market. They see the potential of the new market and will push themselves and their product in order to succeed. The result is more competition and ultimately a better product for the customer. The downside for the incumbent player is that they need to step up their development quickly in order to keep up with the new player. Very quickly they are playing catch up while all the time losing market share.

So Fastroi had the choice. Be the company that stays in Finland and watches as newer, bigger companies with different features slowly erodes our market share, or we be the company setting out to open up new markets, understand the requirements of the new market and aggressively develop our product. For us, this is the best way to grow our business and continue to be a strong domestic player is to look to the international markets.

New Challenges are New Opportunities

There are many options to consider when trying to decide where to focus the company’s efforts and which country to target. There is a term used in international business called ‘Psychic Distance’ and it aims to look at the factors that make it easier or harder to start doing business in a new country. Essentially companies want to do business in countries where they have the closest connections, such as physical distance, cultural connections, familiar regulatory systems, economic and customs unions etc. For Fastroi, the UK offered one of the best opportunities for international expansion. The NHS is a huge market which not only offers enormous opportunities, but it is also lagging behind the Finnish system by a few years, so we found ourselves in the position that we could bring a wealth of new ideas and experience to the market. The other major benefit is that once we have established ourselves in the UK, the process of expanding to other countries will be that much easier with the UK as a reference.

In for the Long Haul

Part of the process for Fastroi coming to the UK has been an extensive campaign of attending exhibitions, creating content and filling out tender requests. We have also established our UK entity which in the light of Brexit uncertainty may yet prove very wise. Joining professional bodies also offers us the opportunity to raise our profile in the UK. We recently joined Care England and we are very happy for the opportunity to raise our profile and become thought leaders.

The future for Fastroi in the UK seems very bright to us. We are recruiting new sales staff and there will some big announcements coming soon that are both exciting and challenging. We are looking forward to these challenges and we hope to build and grow new friendships as we continue our business.

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