Helping successful crowdfunding campaigns which are ready to take things to the next level, Australian start-up iiSnap assists fledgling manufacturers and small retailers in forging global supply relationships.
iiSnap is a B2B ecommerce platform which automates supply chains to help bridge the gap between the manufacturing floor and retail shelves. It helps Asian manufacturers reach new retailers in the west, while also assisting smaller western retailers in striking supply deals with large manufacturers.
While iiSnap is based in Perth, the bulk of its customers are overseas. Most of its manufacturers are in Asia, with half based in Shenzhen, located in one of China's Special Economic Zones near the border with Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the majority of iiSnap's retail customers are in the United States and northern Europe.
iiSnap does not play matchmaker for new companies looking to strike manufacturing deals in Asia. Instead, it helps retailers and manufacturers forge supply chains between east and west. It has people on the ground in Asia to liaise with manufacturers and ensure quality is maintained, as well as fulfillment centres which manage every aspect of the journey from the factory to the retail shelves, says iiSnap founder and CEO Ami Barda.
"We're not babysitting companies with a big idea who are looking for a manufacturer. We deal with companies which have finished their Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign and are ready to roll," Barda says.
"At this point they've already got a great product and a reliable manufacturer, so we bring them onboard and help manage the supply chain as well as promote their product to our retail buyer community."
One of the key attractions for retailers is iiSnap's ability to pool orders and purchase in bulk from the manufacturers. This allows small retailers to overcome the challenge of reaching a manufacturer's minimum order quantity (MOQ), plus it keeps costs down by reducing the number of middlemen in the supply chain.
Operating from Perth suits iiSnap's dealings with China, with Barda and his team attending the recent CES Asia technology show in Shanghai – the only Australian business represented on the show floor.
While Australia is "a fantastic country to live in", Barda says it presents a range of frustrations for tech businesses looking to compete on the world stage.
"For starters, the Australian market is much smaller so the business opportunities are more limited, but it's also difficult because Australian investors are typically focused on mining or real estate and it's difficult to get them to look at opportunities elsewhere," Barda says.
"Tech isn't yet seen as a mainstream investment opportunity and I think we need a few more Australian success stories like Canva and Atlassian to help change that."
There is also difficulty in finding high quality people in Perth, he says, not because the talent doesn't exist but because Australia's limited start-up culture means that talented people typically want to work for the large corporates and mining giants.
The Australian economy needs to embrace the technology sector and rethink its approach to start-ups if it wants to find success, Barda says.
"When you have big international players like Amazon coming to Australia to challenge local players, it's yet another reason why the government needs to push innovation and help Australian technology companies grow big and strong."