A business prospers when they get their product into new markets, but that’s often easier said than done.
Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network, German entrepreneur Marc A. Flettner established a partnership with a specialist retailer in Austria, Rabmer GreenTech, who sold his eco-friendly water treatment system among an established target market.
Marc A.Flettner has a family history of innovation. His great-uncle, Anton Flettner, developed the world’s first production helicopter using a propulsion system he developed. He was supported in his actions by many famous engineers and friends such as Albert Einstein. In 2002, Marc kept the family tradition alive and developed his first patent - the AQUABION®, a self-cleaning environmentally friendly water treatment system.
"It’s based on a chemical reaction," said Marc. "Small amounts of zinc ions are released into the water. This will make the calcium and magnesium in the water form larger particles, which will then prevent aggressive limescale down the line at higher temperatures. The now larger minerals will remain in the water for a better taste and later just flow off with the waste water."
Conventional water treatment systems require electricity, chemicals, maintenance and can create waste water, which can cause long term costs. AQUABION® requires no energy, chemicals or maintenance and will not damage pipes or appliances. This eco-friendly approach proved so successful in Germany that Marc wanted to test its potential elsewhere.
"Aquabion GmbH had an interest in finding partners abroad so we thought of putting them in the Enterprise Europe Network database," said Sabrina Wodrich from ZENIT, a German Member of the world's largest support network for small and medium- sized businesses (SMEs) with international ambitions. "We helped Marc draw up his company profile and put it into the database. Shortly after that we received many expressions of interest from different potential partners."
Rabmer GreenTech, an Austrian retailer of water and wastewater technology, was one such business.
"We came across the AQUABION® in the Network’s newsletter and thought it could be quite interesting for the Austrian market and our network of clients," said Klaus Pichler, Business Manager at Rabmer GreenTech.
Over the next six months Marc and Klaus built up a business relationship leading to Rabmer GreenTech testing AQUABION® in the Austrian and Hungarian marketplace. After a few successful trials the two companies entered an official partnership where Rabmer GreenTech became the sole distributor of Aquabion GmbH for Austria, Hungary and some more countries.
Since then, Aquabion GmbH’s turnover has increased by 10-15 % while Rabmer GreenTech has continued to experience growing sales and are regularly increasing orders from Marc, meaning more and more Austrian households and industrial companies are enjoying chemical-free, environmentally friendly water treatment. Both businesses have also strengthened their competitiveness and were able to hire new personnel.
"The partnership was such a success because there was a good match between the companies," said Clemens Kozmich from Business Upper Austria, the Austrian Member of the Network, who helped facilitate the partnership. "Without support, finding relevant cooperation partners can be challenging and costly. Therefore it requires tools like the Network’s profile database to provide companies with high-quality cooperation opportunities in their business field. In the end, it does require two ambitious companies that are willing to take the next step together."
Following the successful partnership, Marc is now analysing new markets to determine where AQUABION® could succeed. He explains how the German Network member continues to help him expand into new markets, such as Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and Bulgaria.
"It’s very difficult to grow by yourself, PR and advertising is very expensive so whatever help we can get with the Enterprise Europe Network is very much appreciated."
Photo: © Aquabion GmbH, 2016