Australian technology company OtherLevels is investing heavily in its overseas presence to win new customers for its marketing automation platform. But the managing director of the newly publicly listed company, Brendan O'Kane, is keen to keep his engineering team based in Brisbane.
The Brisbane-headquartered company was founded around four years ago and is growing quickly according to O'Kane.
When it listed on the ASX in February this year it had a headcount of 25; that's now grown to 35, the CEO said. About half of the staff are split between San Francisco and London, with the other half – the engineering team – based out of Brisbane.
The company counts retailer Coles, video game publishers Halfbrick and Sega, and the InterContinental Hotel Group among its customers.
The company produces what O'Kane considers to be a successor to the first generation of marketing automation platforms. Those early platforms were often primarily email focussed and didn't have a rich feedback loop to help marketers refine their efforts, O'Kane said.
“Our business is essentially what we would call a second-generation marketing automation platform,” O'Kane said.
“We help very large enterprises engage with their audiences across desktop, mobile web and apps.”
“In a modern world full of smart devices such as tablets and mobile phones and so on, while email is still part of the mix, you've got a much broader range of communication mechanisms,” O'Kane said.
“If you want to engage your audience then you can also start to think about other things such as pop-ups, push notifications to a mobile device, rich message centres and rich inboxes, where you have an inbox inside your mobile web page or inside your app.”
“You've got a much wider range of ways to reach your audience and you've got devices that tell you whether or not that's being effective,” he added.
O'Kane describes the future of marketing automation platforms as being “intelligent messaging”.
“What we mean by that is we want the marketer to be able to simply define the content and define the user journey and basically say to us, 'We'd love to get this content in front of a person on a Saturday morning; can you work out the best channel to do that and if they don't respond to your first attempt, would you mind re-targeting them on another channel for us?'”
“We think this is the future,” O'Kane said.
“We know the technology's not going away; it's going to continue to provide new and interesting ways to interact with people and we want to remove some of the complexity and make it easier for the marketer.”
Ninety-one per cent of OtherLevels' revenue is coming from offshore, the CEO said.
“Virtually all of our sales and marketing is offshore,” he added.
“We're up against global competitors, so we have to think that way.”
Seeking capital to expand these efforts led to the decision to list OtherLevels on the ASX (as OtherLevels Holdings Limited — OLV).
“We needed capital to put sales and marketing into the UK and grow the US and so on,” O'Kane said.
“Then it becomes a choice of how do you grow capital? There's two choices. We could have picked the business up and relocated and gone to the US and taken venture money over there, which is a well-trodden path, or the alternative was to seek capital in the public markets here and keep the business headquartered out of Australia.
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“We chose the latter path and we hope that we can build a really strong global business while retaining an Australian heritage.”
“We love the idea of having an engineer base in Australia; we think that's very competitive,” the CEO said.
“We think it certainly gives us advantages over some of our competitors who are building engineering teams in Silicon Valley. And the transparency that being a public company brings is fine. Because if you want to build a great business, you've got to be transparent anyway.”
“We've added a couple more people locally but we've significantly expanded our US/UK operations,” O'Kane said.
“Over the next six to nine months we're really looking to grow more customers,” the CEO added.
Since listing, the company has announced four new customer wins: Ladbrokes, World Singles, Matchbook and an unnamed major Australian public transit operator
“We've really stepped up the pace now of winning and adding clients and that's because we're deploying more salespeople and doing more marketing,” the CEO said.“So we think there's plenty of opportunity — we just need to go out there and get to it.”