Executive challenges of expanding a disaster recovery and backup business

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Kevin Moreau is the Managing Director for EMEA at Unitrends. The company recently announced its expansion into Europe so it was a perfect time to talk with Moreau about challenges related to operations and growth throughout the EMEA region.

What are the main challenges involved in growing a disaster recovery and backup business through international expansion?
In my experience, I’ve seen companies spread themselves too thin, too quickly, while attempting to expand internationally. To avoid falling into this trap, Unitrends is focusing its efforts, and ensuring that strong leadership, unrivaled customer support and service, helpful sales teams and simple purchasing channels exist in any area the company does business. Even as we rapidly expand overseas and experience triple-digit growth, we never lose sight of our goal to make it as frictionless as possible for potential customers, our end users and our reseller partners to do business with us.

Another one of our major expansion goals is to remain agile to the different needs of our customers in each of the countries we serve. Our agility has been a major contributor of our success to date, and it will propel us to success throughout EMEA as well.

What type of synergy are you looking for in the European marketplace?
Within the backup and data recovery space, there are key trends that are impacting IT organizations globally – so we expect to have a synergy with our European customers that is similar to what we’ve built with our U.S. customer base. No matter what part of the world they reside in, mid-market organizations (less than 1,500 employees) today are resource-constrained. They are trying to manage ever-increasing data growth pressures, which tax IT infrastructures and require new and more agile data recovery strategies. And, with the emergence of virtualization, many IT organizations are contending with heterogeneous IT environments.

As downtime tolerance diminishes and securing data is paramount, organizations are looking for a turnkey approach to data protection – one that is effective, yet affordable and easy-to-use. Few backup and data recovery vendors can provide heterogeneous data protection at a price point and level of simplicity that SMEs require. We can, and our U.S. customers turn to us for enterprise-class data protection at the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry. We look forward to sharing our unique value proposition with our international IT counterparts.

What compliance, privacy and law issues do companies in Europe deal with that are different from the U.S.? Any surprises?
Actually, companies in the U.S. and Europe are held to similar data protection regulations and face similar compliance challenges, such as data retention strategies, outsourcing of data processing, records management, processing of employee data and security breaches. Specifically within Europe, businesses are held to more stringent guidelines as outlined in the European General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Retention Directive. And as globalization of the world economy continues, there will be an increasing number of compliance issues that businesses need to contend with. Our job is to help them evolve their data protection strategies to meet evolving security and compliance regulations.

As a company doing business internationally, we need to recognize how our technology supports compliance requirements and unique sets of legislation and standards. This means, for example, that we will not make services available to customers until we have put the right partnerships and resources in place to help our customers abide by specific federal, local and/or vertical regulations.

How much time are you devoting to the management of new people and locations for your European business?
Our international expansion efforts are a strategic focus for the company throughout 2013, and there is significant cross-functional support across Unitrends that will enable our European efforts to be successful. I am dedicating a lot of my time to the onboarding and management of Unitrends staff, along with developing relationships with our distributors and channel partners. We are also relocating some of our most experienced personnel to support our early expansion efforts and to help us get our new, local hires on board and train them to our standards.

What steps are you planning in order to make Unitrends a thriving and recognized brand in the new market?
Our business model is what has made Unitrends so successful in the U.S., and we are confident that it will propel us to success internally as well. Our corporate foundation is based on three important principles that separate us from all other backup and data recovery providers: Ensure that doing business with Unitrends is high-velocity and frictionless through easy-to-use technology and simple pricing; have an unrivaled customer support team that maintains a customer satisfaction ranking of 98 percent or above; and implement a go-to-market strategy that eliminates outbound campaigns and cold calls and instead focuses on responding to inbound requests, holding meaningful conversations with prospects and ensuring companies are buying through a channel in which they feel comfortable.

We also have a high-velocity digital and social marketing model in place that will help the Unitrends brand become universally recognized. We are very active within social communities like Spiceworks and will be sponsoring and attending their upcoming European conference, as well as other regional events, like VMware Users Groups. We also make thought leadership articles, webcasts, white papers and other marketing collateral a top priority, so our customers have an on-demand library of resources at their fingertips. Above all, we want to build our international business through word of mouth from customers and partners who have had a positive experience doing business with Unitrends. A big part of this strategy is offering hardware appliance evaluation units at no cost, as well as free and Not for Resale (NFR) versions of Unitrends Enterprise Backup, our software-only virtual appliance, so our customers and partners can test out our technology for themselves before committing to a purchase.

From the channel side, we are focusing on providing unparalleled support for our partners and making it simple and lucrative for them to engage with us. We’re reviewing everything from margins offered and market development funds to leads delivered and depth of training available. We are also working to align our highly successful partner loyalty program, UniRewards, to our international partner community. The program has garnered more than 2,000 active members since launching in October 2012, and we expect this number to soar as a result of our international expansion.

In summary, thanks to our strong business model – focused on simple, affordable unified data protection, unrivaled customer support and our unique go-to-market strategy – we are the fastest growing backup and data recovery provider in the industry today. And our success, brand and reputation will continue to soar as we further engage the European market.