The UKIBC unveiled its Launchpad market entry service to help UK companies and organisations enter India. Tushar Chaudhary, who heads the initiative and also leads its client relations activities, discusses what UK companies need to know about entering India and outlines the first year's progress.
We were confident that the UKIBC - backed by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) - had a strong brand in the UK, and that there was a need for such a bespoke initiative around market entry.
1. Avoid onerous and long term contracts
The Launchpad concept was based on two core elements; to provide a low-risk and low-cost market-entry model, and to remove all the time-consuming hassle - such as company incorporation, hiring staff, understanding local tax and legal issues - so clients could concentrate on their core business.
Both aspects have proved very popular. It is a low cost service and more importantly, clients know in advance how much their first-year's market entry strategy will cost, and because the service is tailored to their specific needs, they receive advice and guidance which they could not gain via generic market research or online platforms.
The beauty of Launchpad is that it can be applied to almost any sector and any size of company. We have, for example, clients from Higher and Further Education, from Manufacturing, and from Infrastructure all using the service.
2. Find the right people to work for you
The key to its success has been the quality of Launchpad consultants, which UKIBC have recruited to spend that crucial first year working with each client.
We work with specialist HR agencies to identify potential specialists, according to the sector in which the client works, and typically, we'll interview four or five before making our final selection.
In each case, they have to demonstrate the correct skill-set, good local contacts in India and between 10 and 15 years’ experience in the target sector. Such knowledge allows them to both take critical decisions, and act as brand ambassadors for their clients in India.The client-consultant relationship is very flexible, so they might work on specialist market research activities, identify potential partners, distributors and suppliers, gather market data, or discuss such key issues as branding and positioning of the company's products or services.
Feedback from our UK clients has confirmed our belief that there is no substitute for having a specialist consultant on the ground, to represent your business as it looks to enter the Indian market. I and my colleagues in the UKIBC also manage both the performance of each consultant, and their market-entry project, to ensure they are achieving the client's objectives.
In turn, the client and their consultant are supported by a strong and sophisticated eco-system; including UKIBC members in India, the British Business Groups, UKTI, and such national trade bodies as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry and the Confederation of Indian Industry.
3. Assess the Indian market’s potential for your business
In the coming year, we expect demand for Launchpad to continue to increase. I think the mind-set among UK companies has evolved from 'Why India?' to 'How India?', and over the coming months and years we are going to see a lot more UK companies active in the market. India's potential as a market and a trading partner is well understood, and the new government has stressed its desire to make the country a global hub for international business, across all sectors.
I am confident UK companies will be a key driver in the next phase of India's development, attracted by new business opportunities, the size of our domestic market, the abundant availability of skills, and the aspirations of our ever-growing middle class.
Written by Tushar Chaudhary, Head of Launchpad and Client Relations, UKIBC