Cadimage Group takes a step forward

As a company we have continually engaged external sources to help us with the ongoing development of our business.

Two years ago we undertook a significant strategic planning exercise with Helen and Greg Cross from Cross Ventures and we are currently working extensively with Brian R Richards with regards to the strategic branding of our international business.

Both of these engagements have been project based engagements which have focused on specific areas of the business. Strategy however, isn’t something that can be simply looked at on a project by project basis and requires constant review and adjustment.

I am therefore pleased to announce that Lance Wiggs has joined the Cadimage Board of Directors. This is a significant step forward for the Cadimage Group as Lance is our first non-executive director and this marks the start of our next growth phase.

Lance brings a wealth of experience from around the globe and has already started contributing to the direction of the business with a full on 3 hours yesterday afternoon to drop him in the deep end.

Tracey and I are really excited about this next period of development for our business and are stoked to welcome Lance on board! (pun intended)

Preparing for 2010…

What a year – this graphic certainly sums up some of my thoughts about 2009!

A year ago I posted my contribution to Xero’s Survival Guide – it is interesting to reread this in the context of what has happened but more importantly a good to chance to review again as we roll into not only a New Year but a new decade.

From a business point of view 2009 for us has been a year of both Survival and Success. Having a business (Graphisoft NZ) heavily reliant on the NZ Building industry has been tough, sales drops of up to 80% in some areas have been a head ache but have really made us focus on growth in new areas. On the flip side of this we are pleased to say that today our international business (Cadimage Tools) has just past our growth target for 2009 so our strategy of building an export business to reduce our reliance on the NZ Building Industry is finally paying off – and just when we needed it to if I may say so!

A year ago I said I was going to blog more – while technically I have it is mostly a result of having 12 months in 2009 as opposed to the 6 months that my blog existed for in 2008! If you look at my ‘blog habits’ you’ll see I blog quite a lot while travelling and as my travelling reduced so did my blogging. I don’t plan to travel as much in 2010 but I am hopefully going to blog more even so.

I also have another new challenge for 2010 and that is the commencement of an NZ Executive MBA at Auckland University which I was recently accepted for. I am really looking forward to this opportunity and while I know it will be tough I think my business and I will be better for it.

In short I am really looking forward to 2010 we have some big plans – keep an eye on my blog to hear how things go!

Barajas Airport

pano3_small_white

Last week I was in Madrid for 4 days.

It isn’t too surprising that the first piece of ‘local’ architecture I experienced was the relatively new Terminal 4 at  Barajas-Madrid Airport.

Actually completed in 2004 the new Terminal along with it’s associated Satelitte terminal were not opened until 2006.

The terminal was designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers, and like a number of recently completed airports has an amazing sense of space.

One thing I found particularly interesting once I started researching the airport is that it was the Worlds 11th Busiest Airport in 2008 – something I found hard to believe as it was a virtual ghost town the day I arrived. Though more surprising was the fact that in the last 24 months I have passed through 10 of the top 13 busiest airports!

A couple of side notes:

  • My camera has a panaramic function but no sticthing software (work that one out!) So I searched the Internet and found AutoStitch – which I used to compile the picture above (make sure you open up the full image) The image is actually constructed of 14 photos with the righthand end having two rows of images. I was amazed to fine AutoStitch managed to compile them all together automatically – I didn’t even need to assemble them in a rough order!
  • The architecture of the airport interested me to the extent I wanted to see how effectively I could model it in ArchiCAD with some of the Tools we develop – check out the results here.

63km is a long way to run…

Which is why on Saturday we did the 5 man-relay not the Solo Ultra-Marathon of the Te Houtaewa Challenge 2009

At 8:30 Saturday morning Sally set off to run the first 3 km section of the 63km Relay down Northland’s Ninety Mile Beach. For the next 4:47:19 we took our turn to run a 3km section and then drive down the beach slowly making our way from the bluff to Ahipara.

map2

The team consisted of:

  • Gav
  • Ed
  • Wazza
  • Sal
  • Me

All of them seasoned pro’s having run the event as many as 6 times before (it only started in 2003!) I was new to the relay but had run the extremely monotonous Half Marathon back in ’99.

The guys were a little nervous at the start when they heard there were 5 other teams entered this year, however the nervousness was uncalled for as we ended up winning by over 45minutes.

Hats off must go to Tony Ahern though as he finished only 38 minutes after us having run the whole 63km himself!

Hats off also to the organisers – the event is very well run and has a fantastic Far North Community feel about it.

The Power of the Internet

Using the Internet to communicate and sell is basically taken for granted these days, however from time-to-time it never ceases to amaze me on how quick things can happen. Also because everything is handled electronically the ability to monitor and analyze results is incredible – in days gone by it was time intensive to try to determine responses to direct mail campaigns and the information was never very accurate.

Yesterday Cadimage Tools announced the release of a book – the GDL Handbook:

gdlimage

At 4:18pm I sent 3942 Emails to all my Customers – (customers who have opted in to receive Newsletters so not Spam!)

The Email, while focusing on the Book, also had a couple of other topics of interest to our customers and included a series of links that the customers could follow for further information about the Topics.

Within 2 minutes of sending the email customers were already clicking the links.

Within 10 minutes the it was easy to see that the two links relating to the GDL Handbook were the most popular links.

At 4:24pm we received the first Sale of our new book! 6 Minutes after the original email – Wow!

By 10:19pm (6 Hours 1 minute after email) we had orders for 9 Books from Australia, Germany, Luxembourg and the USA

Having now arrived at the office (8:12am next day) I have looked at the ‘link stats’ which are also interesting:

In the first 16 hours:

We have received 709 Clicks from 403 Unique Customers (approx 10% of email recipients)

229 Clicks have been registered against a PDF of sample pages from the Book

130 Clicks have been registered against the Product Page on our Website where customers can purchase the Book

While some of these numbers aren’t necessarily big, it is the speed of them that amazes me.

Now while the above makes it sound easy to do business on the Internet this is certainly not the case:

  • We have invested for over 4 years in establishing our International eCommerce Website
  • The Book has taken Andrew Watson over a year to write
  • It has taken 3-4 weeks to get all the marketing and launch material together

The main point is though, all this effort is being rewarded and because of the infrastructure we have build we know we can easily launch new products quickly and make sales from around the world.

BAU 2009 – Architecture, Materials and Systems

I am currently in Munich to catch up with some of our Cadimage Tools partners during the BAU2009 Trade Show.

To say BAU is enormous is an understatement – BAU 2009 is being held at the Munich Trade Fair Center and covers all 16 Exhibition Halls.

Not surprisingly all the big names in Architectural Software were there. More surprising for me was the number of other CAD solutions on offer.

However, BAU is more than just software and IT though it is all about Building and simply the sheer quantity of building products – from mail boxes to car stacking systems – was mind blowing.

During the show I got a chance to catch up with some more Kiwi’s on the FrameCAD stand - it was really great to catch up with another New Zealand company taking architectural software to the world. FrameCAD were very pleased with the response they were getting from the show – not only from German companies but companies from Turkey, Poland, Romania, Iran… the list goes on.

Internet Advertising

Running an Internet Based Business certainly has it’s challenges and marketing / attracting customers is at the top of my list.

Many people have the notion that because the Internet is so far reaching that you have a market place on your door step. What you have is access to a market place but you still need to be found!

Also, using Google Adwords is not a silver bullet marketing strategy for web based businesses – it is an important piece in the strategy but not the be all and end all.

Another piece of the puzzle could be Banner Ads, however the following article provides some very interesting light on that subject:

What If You Ran an Ad, and Nobody Saw It?

The interesting thing about the article is that I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t looking at the ads until I forced myself to look at the ads!

The other interesting and encouraging thing is that paid search ads do work so I’ll keep using Google Adwords as a part of my marketing strategy.

NZTE – Export Grant

Today I received confirmation that Cadimage Solutions have received  the NZTE Enterprise Development Grant – Market Develpoment for a second year.

This grant matches our Marketing Spending $ for $ (up to a limit) and is helps us develop our Cadimage Tools export business.

Running an online business and attraching customers is a challenging exercise. Having the support NZTE allows us to travel and meet customers and partners worldwide.

In the 8 months of this year we have already doubled last years sales and this can be directly attributed to the support with have received from NZTE.

Applying for a Grant of this nature is a challenge in itself which is why we used Helen Cross of Cross Ventures. For a small success fee Helen takes care of the entire application process and makes the process a breeze.

If you are New Zealand Export business make sure you maximise your investment by partnering with NZTE.