Orbit IQ targets marketing and branding as keys to successful commercialization
May 22, 2003
A new company created by Canadians and headquartered in New York has assembled an impressive team of high-powered, international executives to assist struggling technology companies in securing global markets for their products. OrbitIQ is built on the premise that excellent technology and intellectual property ownership are no longer the guarantors of success in a sector where global competition has dramatically changed the rules of the game.
Founded by Eli Fathi, former executive VP March Networks and president of Telexsis, OrbitIQ is a self-described commercialization catalyst. It plans to open offices around the world to provide channels to market that are currently beyond the reach of nearly all high-tech firms. Without such a support network, Fathi says the rich vein of technology firms in the Ottawa region and elsewhere will be squandered. Companies with great technology and market-ready products simply won’t be able to generate the global brand recognition required to compete.
WAL-MART OF HIGH-TECH
“People say globalization is great but it’s a huge problem…Our expectation is that the pain threshold is increasing rapidly, more and more companies are going to come to us and ask us to be part of their organization,” says Fathi “Nothing like this exists today in the market. Someone said that when we hit 50 offices we’ll be the Wal-Mart of high-tech”.
OrbitIQ is targeting firms in the telecommunications and financial services sectors , typically with existing products and sales of $5-50 million. In return for opening up global markets and increasing sales, OrbitIQ will receive a small equity position and a monthly retainer. Two firms have already signed on and Fathi says another handful are close to committing., The goal is to build a portfolio of about 25 companies over the next several years and work to transforming them into mid- and large-sized firms.
To accomplish this, Orbit IQ is establishing a presence on three continents and opening offices with a variety of functions. There will be business strengthening centres, market development centres and regional market offices. They will be served by a large network of executive advisors and consultants and a so-called ecosystem of associated companies, all focused on developing brand recognition, creating market channels and boosting sales.
For Fathi, these objectives represent the greatest obstacles to successful commercialization in today’s global economic environment. They are also extremely expensive for companies to achieve on their own. OrbitIQ estimates that it costs the times more to to take a product to market than to actually develop it, making its commercialization model not only unique but extremely cost effective.
“We looked at the incubator model and it failed miserably. The reason it did was it had all these other services, all this value added” says Fathi. “We expect our business ecosystem will involve companies from around the world.”
Drawing on long experience in the Ottawa region, OrbitIQ is acutely aware of the dilemma many companies are now facing. With more than 1,400 high-tech firms, only a tiny handful have actually grown achieve annual sales of $50 million or more. And without the ability to develop brand recognition and effectively market internationally, the situation is unlikely to improve.
|ORBIT IQ BOARD OF DIRECTORS
vice-rector research, Univ of Ottawa
president/CEO, Orbit IQ
VP, Royal Lepage Commercial
MSB Strategies, NY
partner, Bennett Jones LLP
“The analogy is the Oprah Book of the Month Club. If you get into that you are an instant best seller on the New York Times,” says Fathi. “If you are a company with a widget and we think this widget fits our channel and we have 2,000 people around the world, what will happen to this company. You do the math and see what happens. This model will be the model of the future.”
Fathi says that while the OrbitIQ model could help transform the high-tech landscape, he acknowledges that it’s only one part of the solution.
“It behooves the government to address this in an expeditious fashion because the danger of not addressing it is going to be very bad for the economy,” he says. “If we become exporters of know-how and all the decision making is done elsewhere it would be back to the days when we shipped lumber and got back furniture.”