Life is tough for SMEs and commercial challenges abound. Keeping your product range competitive, developing new products, entering new markets, and increasing market share are just some of these commercial challenges faced regularly by all SMEs. The “Lean” approach to addressing these challenges is gaining deserved attention for both start-up companies and SMEs. By iteratively building products or services to meet the needs of early customers, companies can shorten their product development cycles, enter markets faster, and reduce project funding. This focus on customer needs has been at the heart of Qi3’s work for its clients since its foundation.
We have a range of methodologies that fit closely with the “Lean” philosophy, and are focused on putting the customer at the centre of market strategy, new product development, new market entry, and core business growth. The services we deploy to solve individual client challenges include:
Concise Strategy Review
see our Concise Strategy Review section
Understanding & Testing Market Requirements
Whether it is for your core markets or for new markets, understanding clearly their needs, drivers and what customers want to buy is a fundamental prerequisite to commercial success. Qi3 has developed its Technology Market Evaluation (TME) methodology to address these very questions. In-depth market research, discussions with Key Opinion Leaders, and identification of early sales prospects are combined with Qi3’s knowledge bank and extensive commercial experience to give clear answers and market insights. From these, we develop proposals on key strategies for commercial success. For SMEs that have developed “innovative” new technologies, Qi3 has a ‘cash neutral’ way of funding this research, using different public funding sources for innovation. The Technology Strategy Board has a number of excellent part-funded schemes and Qi3 has developed a methodology for projects where the client’s contribution is funded in kind rather than in cash.
Accelerating Commercial Success for New Product Developments
Reducing time-to-market, finding early customers, and reducing risk are critical to successful new product developments in fast moving markets. To address these challenges, Qi3 developed “Rapid Market Prototyping”, an iterative process that enables market strategies, product development programmes, ‘go-to-market’ plans, and sales growth strategies to be developed, tested, and implemented with real potential customers in very short timescales. This revolutionary lean business methodology puts the customer at the heart of these processes, transforming their effectiveness.
Market Modelling and Sizing
Many SMEs have real problems in sizing core and new markets. Markets for technology based products are often niche, relatively small and not covered by published market reports or government statistics. Qi3 has developed a robust methodology of market segmentation and sizing to address this issue which has passed the scrutiny of many due diligence exercises.
Rebooting Stalled or Anaemic Sales Growth
Launching new products or entering new markets always has an element of risk, no matter how good the preparation. When a sales campaign stalls, it is essential to get underneath the skin of the issue and find out the root cause. Qi3’s TME methodology has been successfully deployed many times to give the clarity of market understanding that has reshaped sales strategies and rebooted stalled or anaemic sales growth.
Driving Towards Rapid Growth – An Interim, Part-time Strategy, Marketing & Sales Service
SME’s often need a short injection of commercial expertise to put them on a successful new track. We work closely with many of our clients as their interim, part-time Marketing & Sales Director or Manager when they need additional support. We drive the commercial elements of the business strategy, product development and product launch, and restructure sales activities. We measure our success by how quickly our clients can replace us.
Preparing for Exit
While not a corporate finance organisation, Qi3 has helped many company owners prepare themselves commercially for exit, so that the corporate financiers can do their job successfully. Our robust methodology of market segmentation and sizing has passed the scrutiny of many due diligence exercises. We have assessed potential ‘acquirer’ targets, understood their acquisition strategies, and developed business strategies for our clients to make them highly attractive to these targets. And we have mapped valuations (revenue and EBIT) to set appropriate expectations and maximise outcomes.
“Phase Focus, a university spin-out company, engaged Qi3 for over two years to help identify, quantify, evaluate and progress market opportunities for its new lensless microscopy technology – the Phase Focus Virtual Lens®. Phase Focus has now developed to the point that it is able to sustain an internal marketing and sales resource. However, the Phase Focus Virtual Lens® is a platform technology with many potential applications still to be explored. With that in mind, the company anticipates calling upon Qi3 in the future as the need arises.