In 2021, Austrade’s US advisors guided Utah-based company, Zonos through its first expansion overseas – to the Gold Coast in Queensland.
This help included engaging with all levels of government, including Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ). It also included helping with visa applications, via the new Global Talent Visa program.
“Austrade has far greater resources than many other national trade-promotion agencies,” says Tyson Hackwood, APAC General Manager, Zonos. ‘Austrade has been a one-stop shop for Zonos’ move to Australia.’
Zonos: on a mission to create trust in global trade
Founded in 2009, Zonos has created a technology platform that simplifies trade for exporters. It helps exporters to accurately calculate the landed cost of shipping goods to scores of countries around the world. The technology also helps exporters to manage regulatory clearances.
The service is hugely attractive to small exporters – especially if they use e-commerce platforms. Zonos has created APIs and plugins to integrate exporter and e-commerce systems. Zonos also assists merchants by helping them complete customs submissions and execute payments.
The company is based in St. George, Utah. And Zonos’ combination of high-tech platform and one-on-one service makes the company unique.
“Our goal is to take the administrative headache out of exporting,” Hackwood says. ‘Our service is used by thousands of merchants to help them export around the world. And in 2021, we started to get a lot of interest from companies in Australia.’
Zonos makes Australia a first step in global expansion
In 2019, Zonos started to gain significant recognition in Australia and across Asia. Demand for its services increased.
“Our service is increasingly popular in countries like Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and New Zealand,” says Hackwood. ‘Our goal was to springboard the company’s expansion into Asia. Having a base in the APAC time zone would be beneficial to companies in the Asia region.’
Australia’s time zone made the country a prime candidate for Zonos’ expansion plans. So did the availability of key skills in Australia.
‘We wanted to build an engineering base overseas,’ he adds. ‘We wanted to build a regional product-management and brand-development capability.’
According to Hackwood, other factors that drew Zonos to Australia included the booming retail and fashion industries.
‘And of course, there’s the lifestyle angle,’ he adds. ‘Coming from Utah, lifestyle was a major factor. Before the big move, however, we needed help. That’s where Australia stepped up.’
Austrade helps Zonos set up in Australia
Zonos worked with Austrade, and Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) to scope out opportunities in Australia.
‘Moving a business overseas requires a lot of research,’ says Hackwood. ‘This includes finding a location that best fits the company’s lifestyle and business needs, staying compliant with the country’s laws and regulations, and discovering how to register the business in a new country.
‘This can be overwhelming and it requires the involvement of a lot of different parties. Finding different people and businesses to help can be a massive headache as well. Austrade helped in multiple ways.’
This included helping Zonos understand tax and liabilities. It also involved healing Zonos to set up an Australia-registered operating entity.
‘Never underestimate the benefit of having Austrade on hand to help you navigate the hurdles of setting up overseas,’ says Hackwood.’
Queensland emerges as a top spot for US tech
Zonos’ executives wanted a location where the company could replicate its St. George magic in Australia.
‘Austrade gave us all the data we needed to work out where to locate a new office,’ says Hackwood. ‘TIQ and Austrade advisors in the US recommended the fast-growing tech sector on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
‘The Gold Coast had exactly the mix of tech energy and relaxed lifestyle we were looking for.’
Austrade then helped Zonos’ new country manager to relocate his family from Utah to the Gold Coast. This involved determining the visas required for his family to move to Australia. Austrade got them set up in Australia’s new Global Talent Visa program, which was launched in 2021.
Ongoing support for businesses that relocate
The new Zonos office in the Gold Coast is thriving. Austrade has continued to provide support onshore. This includes introductions to local businesses and networks.
‘Austrade’s input doesn’t stop after registering your business in Australia. They provide ongoing support, which is important to those who invest in establishing new country bases. It’s what happens 3, 6, 12 months later that matters – and support for the first 12 months has been impressive.’
Hackwood says business prospects are ‘excellent’ and the company continues to find opportunities to grow in Australia.