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The Amazing Business Race:
Can a small company in a niche market, go global?

In a first, CanadExport follows a small Canadian company’s journey on the Clipper Round the World Race — an 11-month-long yacht race that started in London, England, on September 2, 2013, and will end there in July 2014.

The journey is taking racers — and Canada’s Praxes Medical Group’s technology — from London to Australia and many points in between.

In this race, 12 identical, 70-foot racing yachts, will circumnavigate the globe. Halifax-based Praxes Medical Group’s technology is being used on each of these yachts. The company provides global emergency physician support for companies with workers in remote and dangerous environments like mine sites, fishing fleets and the Canadian navy.

Contact the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service today.

By the end of this journey, racers will have logged some 40,000 miles. For Praxes Medical Group, the journey is also a race for international market expansion. Can a small Canadian company with a niche product, armed with a bold market expansion strategy, make a name for itself around the world? How will it tackle the challenges of international market expansion and how will the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service help Praxes tackle the challenges ahead?

CanadExport follows the company to see what happens.

September 20, 2013

Dear CanadExport,

The race has begun and the yachts are well into the London to Rio de Janeiro leg of the race. They’re somewhere off the coast of Senegal today and things are going very well but it’s a tough slog. The temperatures are already reaching over 30 degrees on-board, and one team misjudged the wind direction and slipped from first to fifth place overnight.

Susan Helliwell, Dr. John Ross and Sir Robin Knox Johnson

Praxes Medical Group CEO Susan Helliwell seen with Dr. John Ross (left) and Sir Robin Knox Johnson, Clipper Round the World Race founder, during medical training for captains in Gosport, U.K., August 2013.

Praxes provides the race with its EMdoc Telemedicine service. PRAXES is the global emergency medical partner for the Clipper Round the World Race.

Things can change on a dime, just like in business. Of course, business is why Praxes is involved with this race. Our technology is being used on board the yachts, in case there are any accidents. We have already had two calls from yachts off Portugal — we will keep you posted on developments. Fortunately, everyone is ok.

You’re probably asking yourselves, why are we involved with this race and why are we contributing this blog? Simply put, we want to grow our business internationally. We also want to share our experience with readers and maybe it will also help other Canadian companies.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service is also going to be there for us as we approach each market during the race. Stay tuned to see what happens for us in Brazil, Australia, Singapore and China and beyond and how Trade Commissioners will be able to help us.

As a company, we are dreaming big. We have no choice. I asked myself “what is the most dramatic example of remote workers operating in dangerous situations away from conventional medical support?” Immediately, this yacht race came to mind.

So here we are, looking to engage an audience of 1.5 billion people in an event that lasts almost 365 days. Let’s not forget the adventure. Most crew members have never even sailed before, so I  think we have a lot in common in many ways.

Here are our goals over the next year:

  1. Attract the right in-market partners with the help of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.
  2. Get more business from the 3rd-party endorsement the race gives us.
  3. Leverage our fellow sponsors for leads into their client bases.
  4. Attract global companies who serve the same sectors (oil and gas, marine, mining, etc) who may want to resell our services to their existing clients.
  5. Earn five times the payback in revenue from the investment we are making in senior management time and complimentary services.

The challenge for us is that few target customers understand how remote medical support can help them reduce their business costs and risks.

We want to go big but have almost no budget. It would be easy to develop an export strategy with unlimited resources, but how do we do it with almost no resources? The race’s port visits along the way will offer us the opportunity to reach out to potential local partners. Trade Commissioners will not only be able to connect us to key market intelligence but also put us face-to-face with the right partners and this is really valuable for a small company like ours.

The race is only 14 days old. We are already in discussions with potential partners in the U.K. who have contacted us as a direct result of our involvement in the race. Things are looking up but it will be a long year so hold on to your jibs — and to the many forthcoming sailing puns.

Yours aye,

John Hockin
Vice-president, Marketing, Praxes Medical Group

Contact the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service today.

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