Business can be pleasure too. SallyMcKeown talks to Kudlian's James Betts
James Betts has just been to India, courtesy of Sir Richard Branson. Despite the exotic location and the fine dining, this was no holiday but the chance of a lifetime for British educational technology company Kudlian Software to forge new business links and learn some lessons from one of the world's greatest brand builders.
Kudlian is rightly famous for its animation software and has spent much of the past two years refining its products and making contacts both in business and on the creative side. It has a new partnership with Aardman, creators of the iconic Wallace & Gromit movies, and together they have launched Animate IT! stop-frame software, including a mobile app version.
Back in the summer, James Betts, managing director of Kudlian, was invited to the British Business Embassy, a UKTI initiative which ran alongside the Olympics, to introduce British business talent to overseas companies. Kudlian may be a small company, but it obviously punched above its weight because James was then offered the chance to be one of the passengers on a flight to New Delhi to celebrate Virgin's new routes to India.
Sir Richard Branson offered an all-expenses paid round trip for a number of enterprising companies launching exciting new products, and Kudlian fitted that bill. Fresh from a business trip to Russia, James just had time to swap the contents of his suitcase and sort a visa for India and he was off again on a long-haul flight with an intense schedule of meetings ahead.
Like many companies, Kudlian has been looking for export opportunities. "We realised that you cannot rely on the UK market at the moment and that companies that want to go for growth need to expand their horizons," said James. "We have been working in Russia for some time now and this summer we saw the fruits of our labour.
"The trip to India gives us a toehold in a new market and it is up to us to capitalise on the opportunities. I fell in love with New Delhi. It is a really vibrant city and I am pleased to say I will be going back there in the next three months to follow up with some of the companies I met.'
This is a good time for Kudlian. The company is preparing for BETT 2013 and moving forward in new directions. They are very busy developing apps including an I Can Present app which will work on mobile devices and let young presenters have a go at outside broadcasts on school visits, sports days or residentials. Mindful of the needs of subject teachers, they are re-versioning Ask Oscar so it will work on an iPad and they have some groundbreaking creative apps which are under wraps at the moment but may yet be unveiled at BETT.
So what lessons did he learn on the trip to New Delhi? "It was a privilege to see up close how a big machine like Virgin launches a new brand," said James. "This is a company with a huge amount of money to spend, a company with the clout to think big all the time, yet the thing which impressed me the most was that they pay an incredible amount of attention to detail. Every last little thing was perfect. That's what smaller companies need to copy."