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Distribution dragons breathe fire into channel

Alex Scroxton

Business development solutions consultancy The [Tech] Crowd has formally launched its Channel Dragons initiative, a new scheme designed to help emerging vendors get a foothold in the UK channel.

The Channel Dragons are made up of handpicked representatives from across the spectrum of UK distribution, from broadline to value add and covering both b2b and b2c markets.

The Dragons will meet a number of emerging candidate vendors in relevant sectors, selected by The [Tech] Crowd following a lengthy qualification process, which covers areas such as market position, USPs, commercial attractiveness, and production and logistical readiness.

Following a successful pitch, the scheme then partners distributor and vendor and switches into channel management mode on the vendor’s behalf, looking after stock profiling and management, sales training, reseller engagement support and so on.

Speaking to MicroScope, [Tech] Crowd MD Jamie Plumridge said that over the course of his career he had seen both successful and less successful vendor launches, hence, a vital part of what the initiative will do will be to ensure the relationship between vendor and distributor is optimised.

“We do plenty of research on trends and potential players in each market, extensive due diligence on vendors to make sure they are commercially ready for the UK, so by the time we get them in front of the distributors we are in a position to give them all the information they will need,” he said.

The Dragons currently involved are 2tech MD Annette Lees; Beta category manager Ben Jackson; C2000 PC components division director John Osbourne; Nick Boardman of Centerprise;  CMS product manager Daniel Pell; Enta Tech VP and director Jon Atherton; Exertis Gem commercial director Anthony Haworth; Exertis Micro-P GM of networks and comms, Gavin O’Shea; Platinum Components new business development manager Jon Harrison; and Spire Technology sales manager Paul Turner.

Plumridge explained that the scheme will be predominantly focused on US and Chinese vendors, which could be either start-ups or more established firms, but which all lack feet on the street in the UK market.

Particular areas of interest include wearable technology, home automation and fitness technology, said Plumridge, although he added that the Channel Dragons would also be meeting vendors in more mature fields such as storage technology.

Jon Appleton, director at Spire Technology, said: "This is a great initiative to pull together burgeoning companies getting into the UK and take them direct to decision-makers."

He explained that the initiative benefited his business by pitching a fully-formed solution that made it very easy for distributors to decide whether or not to get involved with the vendor in question. "It's almost like having an external procurement partner," he said.

Appleton added that the number of distributors involved, from broadliners such as C2000 through players such as Enta Tech and smaller firms such as Spire, meant the Dragons programme would also hold appeal for vendors looking for a "broad spread of opportunities".

The scheme has already had a number of successful signings, of which the most recent was the signing of ultramobile product specialist Pico Genie by Spire, also announced on 15 January.

The UK-based start-up had been addressing the market primarily through etail channels and recently took the decision to open up its range to two tier distribution.

Plumridge said: “We were immediately impressed by Pico Genie’s feature-rich, innovative and cost-effective range, factors which translated immediately to Spire from the first pitch.”

Spire said it planned to ramp up a programme of promotion and channel recruitment in the coming months.

“Our introduction into the Channel Dragons initiative didn’t take long to bear fruit,” said Turner at Spire.

“Pico Genie’s range of pocket projectors, screens and accessories immediately appealed to the Spire team, and is an excellent fit for our experience and positioning in this market. We’re excited both to be able to bring Pico Genie into the UK channel and to see what other opportunities might arise from the Channel Dragons initiative in 2014.”


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