Developing an idea into a profitable business is a bold undertaking. Expanding that business into a global enterprise is even more complex. We sat down with CEO, Deb Noller, to learn how she’s grown Switch Automation from its Australian roots to an international organization.
Why did you choose Sydney as your first HQ?
“My co-founder and I decided to launch Switch Automation in Sydney because it’s the seat of sustainability in Australia. The City of Sydney is heavily invested in Australia’s environmental strategy and that presented an enormous opportunity for us to serve enterprise organizations there. Australian companies needed the Switch Platform for reporting requirements and to find valuable opportunities to achieve energy reduction targets. Plus, launching a company where you have a strong network helps establish a solid foundation upon which to build.”
What resources did you leverage to expand your network and build your product?
“Joining high-value networks like the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN), SheStarts, Heads Over Heels, Springboard Enterprises, and Rare Birds helped build our presence in the market and led directly to investment, sales and partnership opportunities. The accomplished entrepreneurs I met via those networks challenged me to think about how I could take a successful Australian business and grow it globally. After all, Switch’s goal is to help improve the way that buildings are managed around the world, beyond our backyard. ”
Why the U.S. and why San Francisco?
“Buildings account for nearly 40% of CO2 emissions in the United States, and yet the U.S. continues to lead the world in lowering carbon emissions. To me, that demonstrates both a need AND a desire to improve building performance, which is the core of what we do. We had already won several clients in the U.S. and Canada in the REIT, banking and retail verticals. To provide them with superior service, we needed to expand our team in those markets and forge top tier industry partnerships. I considered what cities would lend the most support to our efforts, and as evidenced by Dell’s recent Women Entrepreneurs Cities Index, the Bay Area ranks #2 in the world for fostering the growth of female entrepreneurs.”
“I chose San Francisco to position Switch at the epicenter of technology (Silicon Valley) and enable us to hire an elite team from the exceptional talent pool of data science, customer success, communications, and energy, mechanical and software engineering professionals there. Additionally, we’ve partnered with Intel, Microsoft, Dell and others who support the delivery of our scalable building performance platform to our customers.”
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs planning to scale a global company?
“When considering how to scale a global company, don’t forget that each new market is different. Avoid making assumptions. Leverage your network’s experience and use external research authorities to validate your business model. Ensure your plan is applicable to the markets you’re targeting and consider your financing streams, anticipated revenue, potential customers, sales model, legal requirements, partnerships and competition. Plan your timing carefully and take discovery trips to inform your decisions. Once ready, fully commit to entering the new market to demonstrate you’re there to stay and make an impact.
Remember, if there’s a market for what you’re doing and no one else is doing that, somebody else will claim that space if you don’t.”
Deb Noller is the CEO and co-founder of Switch Automation, a smart building software platform that helps real estate owners and operators optimize building performance.
Want to chat with Deb about how we can bring our global experience and team to your unique real estate portfolio?