A hot and stuffy August bank holiday weekend spent in a car filming the North Circular road in London was the unlikely inspiration behind Exeter based RouteShoot Limited.
This survey needed 3 devices (video camera, computer and GPS) and a reliance on making the technology compatible. It was ultimately an unsuccessful experience which was unwieldy, time intensive and open to human and technical error. However, it led to highway asset management consultancy, Wilson Pym May Limited (WPM) developing RouteShoot.
The RouteShoot smartphone application and dedicated website makes it possible for users to share their geo-referenced video with colleagues, customers and other stakeholders. This enables the surveying of many miles of road and helps ensure contractors deliver maintenance work.
UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) helped set a new direction for Routeshoot’s innovative product.
Gary Wilson, Director, Rootshoot, said,
Through the UKTI’s assistance we’ve seen an increase in overseas business and received help with overcoming barriers to new and difficult markets, all of which have saved us considerable time and money than if we’d embarked on the process cold ourselves.
Our International Trade Advisor was helpful, supportive, and enthusiastic. He went way beyond the direct brief to help us and has been a fountain of knowledge and advice.
Seeking new markets
RouteShoot was sold to existing clients in the UK’s highway maintenance industry. However, an enquiry from the US indicated that opportunities were potentially not limited to one sector in the UK.
The first significant sale overseas of Routeshoot was a contract with a USA based company, Premier Utility Services. Premier Utility Services had a contract for several US states and needed RouteShoot installed with 700 users and the bandwidth to record 4,500 videos of footage per day.
This was a ‘lightbulb’ moment for WPM director Gary Wilson as it indicated a huge potential business opportunity in all other states in the USA.
It was the impetus for WPM to engage with UKTI and seek assistance with furthering their reach into the US and beyond.
Export training and support from UKTI
RouteShoot started by becoming involved in UKTI’s 12 month Passport to Export service. This helped them with market research, export training and also gave them networking and market visit opportunities. It also included introductions to UKTI’s international network in embassies and high commissions around the world.
Gary Wilson said,
Securing business overseas means long lead times and hard work so being able to take advantage of UKTI’s presence and international network is very helpful.
After Passport to Export, UKTI helped RouteShoot embark on strategic review to assess their trade development needs and undertake a risk assessment.
In addition, UKTI provided support on a range of specialist subjects including:
- protecting intellectual property
- managing foreign exchange
- language and cultural issues
Gary Wilson said,
There are also a number of soft skills you learn working with the UKTI.
These include taking into account time zones when developing business leads as well as cultural idiosyncrasies. For instance, we soon learnt that in many countries in Asia people do not like to lose face by saying no directly to you.
Once we understood this it was a lot easier for us to read our potential clients and assess whether opportunities were real or perceived.
Export success in Philippines, Tonga, Vanuatu and Nigeria
Since starting a relationship with UKTI, RouteShoot has secured a number of significant opportunities to work with the World Bank. One included a project to capture the whole national and local roads network of the Philippines archipelago.
Gary Wilson said,
UKTI introduced us to the World Bank which was a game changer for our business and has led to a number of projects in Asia.
The work in the Philippines provided the experience to secure similar projects with the Ministry of Infrastructure in Tonga (funded by Australia Aid and World Bank) and Vanuatu (Australia Aid and Asian Development Bank).
Chris Knight, UKTI International Trade Advisor said,
RouteShoot really has so many prospects open to them, and so many industries the app could be applicable to, that the trick for us was helping them narrow their focus and start in areas that could be considered low hanging fruit, before they expanded their horizons.
Their export strategy has been built around this plan and it has proved to be a very successful approach.
RouteShoot has also recently completed a project with a major oil and gas company in Nigeria, which has led onto a similar project in the UK.
RouteShoot has benefitted from economic recovery in the UK. A strong domestic business and innovative approach has strengthened the company’s ability to invest in development overseas.
Investigations into a number of new sectors in the UK, such as the equine and transportation industry, have the potential to also become international opportunities.
Gary Wilson said,
We are achieving success in all 4 corners of the globe and we are immensely grateful to UKTI for setting us on the right path and effectively hand holding us through the process.
Export opportunities now account for 60% of all of our sales and so has made a huge difference to our business.
UKTI went well beyond the brief and could not do enough for us.
RouteShoot Limited was founded in September 2012. It’s the second trading company to be established by the directors of Wilson Pym May Limited (WPM).
Gary Wilson, with no previous software experience, wrote the first Rootshoot app for the IPhone himself.
The business has expanded to include a number of chargeable services and a whole host of bespoke features to make RouteShoot as collaborative and useful as possible to the end user.