Before connecting with UKTI, Kevin Hall was a keyboard player who ran an established UK show band. As a direct result of UKTI support over the last three years, the Bedfordshire-based musician has now become a successful international businessman with partners in Russia, Singapore and Dubai.
“Kevin’s landlord referred him to UKTI three years ago, because he thought that Kevin would benefit from UKTI support to help make the most of musical opportunities in overseas markets,” explains UKTI Trade Adviser Anton Rudgalvis. “At that time Kevin’s company was called Vice Versa music and its main offering was a well-respected show band that provided entertainment at high profile corporate events across the UK. Kevin was receiving occasional booking enquiries from abroad and he had begun to realise that formalising an international strategy could enable his company to become more proactive overseas, and therefore less reliant on reactive leads.”
Kevin’s first step was to sign up for Passport to Export, UKTI’s flagship programme for new/novice exporters. “It was brilliant: a pivotal shift,” says Kevin. “The first thing I did when I came home from the workshop was to change my company name from Vice Versa to KH Consultancy, because I realised that my company’s strengths overseas are largely based around me and my little black book of contacts – in music and the wider world of entertainment. The brand name needed to reflect this expertise more clearly.”
Kevin then commissioned an Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) for Singapore, as he already knew that a market existed there for musical entertainment of a high calibre. With UKTI funding support he made a trip to Singapore where he held productive meetings, set up by British High Commission representatives, with a number of hotel and entertainment company contacts.
Unfortunately, before Kevin was able to progress these discussions further he had a serious car accident that left him unable to work for eight months. When Kevin reconnected with UKTI he commissioned a second OMIS – a more focused update that led to a second visit to Singapore, with a particular emphasis on Singapore’s Formula One corporate hospitality and entertainment sector. With the support of the High Commission, Kevin secured an opportunity to pitch for the Singapore Grand Prix contract and he also found a new partner to represent his interests in Singapore.
“I’ve ended up completely rethinking my business as a result of UKTI input,” says Kevin. “The UK is a shrinking market for us, but I’m now confident that we have a great deal of potential for developing our overseas markets further. The hardest thing is splitting your time effectively across the different countries, which is why I have chosen to work with partners on the ground in Singapore, Russia and Dubai. This is proving extremely useful, not just for arranging bookings but also for sorting out visa issues and other logistics. ”
Kevin continues to receive support from UKTI. “I’ve recommended that Kevin makes use of our Export Communications Review (ECR) service next,” says Anton. “This will involve an accredited export communications consultant reviewing the KH Consultancy website and other communications literature, all with the export market in mind. This will help Kevin to sidestep some of the language or cultural issues that could get in way of generating new business overseas. It will enable his business to communicate with confidence in different countries, whether or not Kevin speaks the native language himself.”
Kevin is looking to expand his horizons still further. Last year he attended a UKTI seminar that addressed the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Brazil and he is also investigating options in the US: “The Brazil seminar saved me time and money, by showing me that this high growth market is too big for us to tackle just now. The US looks like a better prospect for the time being.”
“My whole approach is much more focused on international opportunities thanks to UKTI. I even view other people’s business cards differently now: if there isn’t an international dialling code then I know that I’m ‘only’ dealing with a UK company.”
This year, 60% of Kevin’s overall turnover will be UKTI-driven and he estimates that this figure will remain at around 50% over the years ahead as he continues to explore new markets. “It’s about quality, not quantity. It’s not that UKTI has helped me to secure a greater volume of contracts,” says Kevin, “it’s that each of the contracts I’m pitching for now is more significant to the success of my business. Anton, my UKTI trade adviser, has helped me to move from being a musician to being a musician and a strategist. I can call him up at any time and say, ‘I have this new idea – what do you think?’ It’s like having an unpaid consultant on my team.”
If you are based in the East of England region and are interested in developing your business overseas please contact:
UKTI East of England International trade Team
Tel: + (0)845 641 9955
Find your nearest International Trade Advisor via our postcode search facility in “Contacts in your region”