Phil Coll, UnifiedFX

Around the World in 80 Trades: UnifiedFX

What does your company do?

We write software that allows customers to manage Cisco telephones and users remotely from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world.

Some of our clients will have well in excess of 100,000 phones and users spread globally, with UnifiedFX software they can manage them on a single workstation from a base or bases that they choose.

This centralisation means that management of these phones becomes much easier, much less expensive and much better (less errors) with UnifiedFX software. Our products are fully endorsed by Cisco and they use them extensively themselves.

When was your company launched, who by and why?

UnifiedFX was incorporated in Sept 2009 by Phil Coll, Stephen Welsh and Andrew Smillie. We launched it to fill the gap in the market to manage these Cisco phones. Initially we started it in our spare time, almost as a creative project to fulfil our entrepreneurial streaks. However, our success has been such that we took it full time a little over two years ago.


How long has the company been exporting?

We have been exporting since our start-up. Our first overseas client was in Germany but since then we have exported all over the world.


What do you currently export, and where to?

Our largest market is undoubtedly the USA then the UK and Europe, Canada and Australia would be next. There is nowhere that we can’t export to other than those countries where we might be legally constrained.


What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?

We exist in a global technology market, to sell overseas is just what we have to do, so we set up from the outset to sell overseas. The planning stage took some time but once we had the plan in place it didn’t take long at all.


What is the easiest part of exporting?

The internet and having our business systems in the cloud makes it much easier than it ever was before.


And the most challenging part?

Definitely understanding tax laws and local or customer specific purchasing criteria. For example, we sell to the US Army, the US National Guard and the US Navy. Meeting their local criteria, some technical and some commercial, were quite challenging. In some cases there can be very little help and you just have to put in the hard effort to work something out.


Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?

Language has never been an issue mainly because the language of technology is English. We do have a company in India too and that helps a lot with the Asian languages as sometimes English can be an issue there.


Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?

Yes, we have had support for Scottish Enterprise and it has been very helpful indeed.


What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?

Do your homework first and use the resources that are available to you like Scottish Enterprise. Work out how you can make the most impact for the least cost and be selective about which markets you go after. We target the USA quite a lot and we attend the biggest trade shows in our industry there.


Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?

We will be bigger and better. Everything is driven by our product plan and we have some great products to launch to a market that already knows us quite well.

UnifiedFX have been shortlisted for micro exporter of the year and e-commerce export of the year at the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2017 in association with Scottish Enterprise. Book your tickets now and join us to celebrate international trade.

Published: 24 February 2017

Article by Leanne Miller
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