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Considering India? Advice from a Canadian company in the know

Mike Manson, CEO and co-founder of TaraSpan Networks, says Canadian companies looking to expand their business into India need to do two things: be present and be patient.

His company, based in both Canada and India, provides India market-entry and software engineering services to Canadian technology companies. The firm also partners with technology companies in India.

Manson says that Canadian technology companies have awoken to the fact that there is a market opportunity in India, but that many just don't know how to go about it.

“My first piece of advice is to make sure you're on the ground in India and that you are present in the right place to address whatever market segment you're dealing with,” Manson says. “Your presence is needed in order to demonstrate the commitment to the market.”

When Indian companies consider buying Canadian technology, they often ask if technical support is available in India, says Manson. “They don't want to be told that they have to call Canada,” he says.

Being present also requires that one understands Indian culture.

“Western companies going into India tend to want to be very directive when it comes to business dealings, whereas it's a lot more about relationships in India,” he says. “It's very common to have a first meeting with somebody and you actually spend very little time talking about business. You may spend the first half of your meeting discussing where you are from, your family, where you went to school. It's very much based on relationships.”

Manson also advises Canadian companies to be persistent when trying to capture the Indian market.

“To be persistent you need to have someone who is present locally who can be persistent for you and be very visible in front of the customer and continue to try to drive the business for you,” he says.

He says another key success factor is understanding and accepting the market and translating that into how the value of your product is perceived and what you're going to do about it in terms of adjusting your product, your pricing level and structure and how you sell it.

And that, according to Manson, takes patience.

“In India it takes time to get business. It takes commitment,” he says. “India is not the place that you go over once and have a bunch of meetings and collect a bunch of business cards and come back to Canada and try to close business.”

If companies are patient, they can reap the benefits in the long-run.

Manson and his co-founder Raj Narula have been working in India for more than five years. Since that time they've had a 66 percent compound annual growth rate and now employ 170 people in their Indian office.

Manson says he sees a market for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular. “Canadian technology products are definitely respected in India,” he says.

Visit the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service for more information on doing business in India.

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