How support from the Washington State Department of Commerce helped this automotive research provider get a foothold in China.
Enprecis, an emerging data services provider in Seattle, is a startup success story that is helping the global automotive industry get closer to its customers. The company’s Continuous Quality Insight (CQI) software helps car makers manage and respond to customer feedback on such brands as Jaguar, Land Rover, Chrysler, Fiat, Alfa-Romeo, Hyundai, Mazda, and Volkswagen. CQI tracks product quality and customer feedback from multiple channels including mobile apps, customer service call centers and online surveys. The data collected by CQI helps manufacturers improve vehicle quality and design while preventing recalls and increasing customer loyalty.
When Enprecis’s customers in the United Kingdom wanted help collecting feedback from their buyers in China, the company needed to hit the ground running in a complex market where it had little experience. But the savvy management at Enprecis knew where to look for help to get started.
Since the company had an eye on finding partners in China, it made them a good fit for the Washington State Department of Commerce’s China Accelerator, a business incubator offered through Tractus, the agency’s long-time representative in Asia. The Accelerator offers qualifying companies access to a broad range of business incubator services, including:
assistance from an experienced management team
market development (sales and sourcing)
shared office space
back office administration
human resources and bookkeeping support
Enprecis’s goal was to work with an established entity for operating in China while the company determined the requirements for formal operations there. “The Accelerator has very successfully fulfilled that role for us,” said Richard Counihan, Enprecis chief executive officer, “and Tractus has been very helpful with employee contracts and setting up operations outside of the Accelerator.” Growth through its operations in China helped create new jobs at the company’s Seattle offices. The company was also named Emerging Trader of the Year by the World Trade Club in April 2012.
Enprecis was also a member of Governor Chris Gregoire’s trade mission to the Paris Air Show in 2011, which Counihan says contributed to getting hard-to-obtain meetings with leading industry executives and closing two solid deals with European car makers. “The rest of the world views government as critical in business development,” Counihan said. “Having a relationship with the government gives you credibility in the extreme global marketplaces.”
Since its start in 2007, Enprecis had grown to 30 employees in 2012, including 25 in the U.S (22 in Seattle), with exports and foreign-owned manufacturers accounting for about 80 percent of sales in 10 different countries, including China, Russia, Italy, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Japan, Korea, Canada and Mexico.