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When Kiwi Andrew Sharp, CEO of children’s footwear brand, Bobux, approached Kea Connect powered by Xero about his plan to crack the US market, we knew exactly who he had to meet.

That person was our World Class New Zealander, Wade Flannagan, Engineering Director at Nike HQ in Portland.

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Wade was more than happy to impart his wisdom to Andrew when they met on the Nike campus, which resulted in Bobux adopting an entirely new shoe design process. “Our design methodology was dramatically changed after talking with the Nike team in Portland that Kea introduced me to. This methodology allowed Bobux to develop a new range of shoes to meet market needs.”

Two minds see sales double.

Implementing Wade’s ideas turned out to be a savvy move that saw Bobux double its sales in the US over the past 12 months and “forecasts are for us to double again this year,'' says Andrew. He anticipates that the new design process will help Bobux to position itself as a leader in the US footwear market in the not-too-distant future.

We got your back SMEs.

The tricky part for most SMEs is that they don’t have existing networks in their target markets, so no brains to pick, or helpful realities from the coalface.

That was Andrew’s problem and why he signed up with Kea Connect, a move that he’s so pleased he made, “I think the way the Kea network can help New Zealand businesses is they can make introductions to people. There are a million Kiwis offshore. Those people are connected and have a great amount of market knowledge. There is such passion for Kiwis helping Kiwis. They’re doing it out of love and passion for New Zealand. That’s what the World Class New Zealand network is all about.”

Simple introductions can pay dividends.

For Andrew, reaching Nike was a straightforward process. He filled in the online Kea Connect form and let Kea know that Bobux was seeking connections with footwear designers in the US. The Kea Connect team ran a search of its database and identified Wade as an expert in-market, then made an introduction via email.

“Andrew describes Kea Connect as a “Marketplace for connections. You’ve got the supply at one end and the demand at the other, and Kea is essentially a marketplace.”

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Part 12