Belgium Technology Company Launches Operations in Upstate SC
March 12, 2021
Pozyx Shares Keys to Successful US Market Entry
In Belgium and the Upstate, eyes are on the technology scale-up Pozyx, which provides ultra-wide band, real-time location tracking technology systems used in a variety of industries.
The Ghent-based scale-up established an Upstate South Carolina office in February 2021, and it was a bold international move in the middle of a pandemic.
“In normal times, we would be just a small Belgian company moving into the U.S. But due to COVID, we have a lot of visibility at all levels in business and politics, since people are actually thinking it is quite a challenge to start up a new US office in full COVID times,” says Yves Ghys, who led the U.S. market entry for Pozyx and served as President of Pozyx Americas from 2021 through July 2022.
And, it was the next step for the technology scaleup to grow: the Upstate office marks Pozyx’s first office outside of Belgium, where they will work with partners to produce technology that can improve processes and products in the manufacturing and logistics space.
In the 10-county Upstate, the region’s 2,000+ manufacturers and 834 transportation and warehousing companies are continuously exploring ways to optimize their operations, presenting a world of opportunity to companies like Pozyx.
Is your company considering new business operations? Connect with the Upstate SC Alliance team for support and resources for your project.
Making an American Market Entry
Even before launching its Upstate South Carolina office, Pozyx drew between 20% and 40% of revenues from the United States. Though, Ghys says the company heard often from clients and prospective technology users that they would prefer to do business with someone who has a domestic presence.
“Like many other companies, we were first looking at New York, Chicago and Detroit,” Ghys says, adding that one of their partners, Gemba Systems, encouraged them to consider the Upstate. The West Coast was eliminated early due to the time difference with Europe.
“For us, the main concern was, ‘Do we want to be in the North with the automotive industry, typically, or do we want to be in South?”
After further evaluation of the landscapes – and access to multiple markets and potential customers – “it was more interesting to be in the South,” Ghys adds.
Tangible Factors: Proximity to Markets & Time Zones
“And Greenville is the perfect gateway to the South. Not only to South Carolina, but in the month I’ve been here, I’ve been visiting with customers in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. It’s a perfect gateway to do business with the rest of the south and with the rest of America.”
What’s more: the Upstate and surrounding areas are home to a dense array of innovative technology and manufacturing companies, names such as BMW, Boeing, SANY America and Kubota, all accessible during the course of a business day.
“We feel that if we are in the Upstate, we have a lot of potential customers and prospects in a three-hour drive range. More than in the rest of America, for our technology and our use cases.”
Another plus: the Eastern Standard Time Zone is the closest you can get to Europe from the United States.
“Since I’m here in the U.S. right now, I need to do business with the rest of the world,” Ghys says. “Greenville is perfect because in the morning, I start at 7 o’clock and I do business with Europe, and in the afternoon I do business with America.”
A Place to Land and Launch
In economic development terms, we call Pozyx’s market entry a “landing pad” or a “soft landing.”
The company moved into turnkey office space, and Ghys is currently preparing to relocate to the Upstate with his family to establish the organization as Managing Director US and expand the team through more local hires, including local management roles once the time is right.
“The goal would be that in time, this would become one of our biggest offices, and we would have a local management presence from America,” Ghys says.
Beyond office space, these businesses are looking for quick connections and a warm welcome.
“B2B (business-to-business) is typically a rather slow sales cycle,” Van de Velde adds. “And in order to make the sales cycle shorter, introductions are critical, because doing business requires trust. If you can have people take a chance on you and make some introductions, then you can really shrink that sales cycle dramatically and get a chance to engage with the right people and generate business out of it much more quickly.”
Organizations ranging from City of Greenville, to Greenville Area Development Corporation and industry groups such as SCMEP and SC Aerospace and SC Logistics, in addition to the Upstate SC Alliance, have all welcomed Pozyx and provided additional introductions – and a good pathway to doing business.
“A lot of people have shown genuine interest in our technology,” Ghys says, citing Gemba Systems’ help with office space and initial introductions, which have spurred both support services and interest in Pozyx’s products in the first month alone.
So, about international business risk in the COVID era?
“Yes, everything is a bit different. And yes, everything needs to be COVID-proof. And, yes, we’re in the office with masks, that’s correct,” Ghys says. “But in the end, we are doing business, and a lot of people are looking at that.”