Our International Story is where SMMT interviews members on their international business journey. This month, we hear about Vehicle Vision’s story from Mal Rooney, Global Distribution Manager.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Vehicle Vision.
I’ve been working with technology companies for nearly 30 years, primarily in customer facing and relationship-based roles, beginning with Apple Computer in the 1990’s. I’ve witnessed the internet revolution, the rapid growth and deployment of technology, and supported customers in their transition to digital platforms and processes. Joining Vehicle Vision in 2013 was a continuation of that journey, albeit from a start-up position disrupting the automotive industry with personalised video software. Over those nine years, I’ve supported OEM’s, automotive dealerships, garages and more recently new vehicle sectors embrace and set-up their personalised video programmes. My focus is now on growing the distribution (reseller) side of the business in the UK and overseas.
How did Vehicle Vision get started exporting?
Developing Audi Cam for Audi UK, exposed the business to other car manufacturers and overseas National Sales Companies, which led to interest from Audi Japan and Volkswagen Group Sweden, who subsequently rolled out branded programmes powered by our platform. We knew our Software as a Service (SaaS) products could be deployed and scaled pretty much anywhere in the world and having installations in Japan and Sweden gave us the credentials and confidence to view exporting as an area to grow our business.
Has doing business internationally changed the company in any way?
It has enabled us to grow organically as a business, it has increased our capabilities and international customers make a significant contribution to revenues. We have experienced a growing interest in our products outside the UK and view exporting as a strategic area for growth. Our personalised video products transcend language and culture and I’m still amazed by its power – a video with evidence, communicates (showing rather than telling) in a way that a photo, phone call or email simply cannot achieve. When we get the opportunity to reflect on our achievements – from a technology start-up position – exporting is a real pinch moment.
How has Covid 19 impacted you internationally and have you adapted your approach?
The impact of COVID-19 has been so far reaching, I think we can say its unprecedented from a modern times perspective. We, alongside our customers were affected too, we received a reduced income during the various lockdowns, however, we continued to operate with a full complement of staff and served all our customers (domestically and internationally) without any interruption.
We pivoted quickly and focussed on creating a new product (Vehicle Vision Assist) to help our customers during and beyond the pandemic period, particularly as we saw consumer behaviour changing – the reduced contact with garages and car dealerships, a desire to self-serve and a greater confidence in transacting online in the car service and sales environment. Our personalised video software, by virtue of its nature – video communication – has become an even more powerful business tool during these times.
Like most business-to-business organisations we were also affected immediately by the restrictions on physical meetings and travel, so we adapted quite straight forwardly to video calls and were fortunate in that as we provide SaaS products, not directly impacted by the problems with logistics and transport that so many other businesses faced.
What are your future plans? Are there any new markets you are looking to enter, or growing new business in existing markets? Will you do anything differently this time?
We are continually looking to grow both domestically and internationally and have expanded our customer base in both Japan and Sweden. What we have learnt from these markets has informed the development of our software – which benefits our community of users – and experience in deploying our products internationally.
We’re an agile business and with a flexible delivery and service approach – serving brands directly and territories via a distribution (reseller) model – we wish to extend our footprint in other countries and as of February 2022 we are now offering our software products in Poland. International resellers offer us the local knowledge, connectivity and reach inside a country and we’re looking to extend our network – to increase our international opportunities.