How global events can transform Australian small businesses


With only one in five Australian small businesses successfully expanding overseas, it’s time for businesses to recognise the huge benefits global events can provide local organisations.

For example, Bridj was recently appointed as the Official Fleet Operations and Asset Management Technology Provider for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which take place from 28 July to 8 August. I’ve always seen such events as “activators” for businesses and believe such events provide the opportunity to present smaller companies to an entirely new audience, while enabling lasting relationships to be forged.

In terms of exposure, the numbers speak for themselves. The event will physically bring together hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to deliver the event, while reaching a global audience of 1.5 billion. With 72 nations and territories, visitors will range from sporting organisations and corporate sponsors, to media, athletes and spectators. All of these people are coming together with a shared objective to deliver and witness something special. Each will then take that experience back to their home countries or further afield.

Nonetheless, small businesses must ask some key questions before embarking on a tender exercise for an event like this. For us, we first needed to be sure that our platform could easily be implemented in a new territory. We also had to be confident that it would bring the same efficiencies and benefits we had already achieved on home soil. We’ll be helping the Birmingham 2022 Fleet Operations Team plan and manage more than 500 vehicles driven by over 1200 volunteer drivers. A lot of people will be witnessing the service we provide, so there’s no question of delivering anything less than a world-class service.

A second question was whether we had the right network of people with the necessary local knowledge. This is crucial to any international undertaking of this kind, there will be adjustments to be made to your existing product or service and very little time in which to make them. Forging relationships with local organisations can help. In our case, the local authority, Transport for West Midlands, is heavily involved in the project and we are collaborating not only on matters such as the Games route network but also on broader strategic transport delivery. With Australia being so far away from the United Kingdom, business owners must ensure they have the right contacts overseas to ensure that the operation runs smoothly. 

Finally, an aspect of the tender that needs to be taken seriously is that your values are aligned with those of any event that you decide to support. The Commonwealth Games Federation Partnership (CGFP) had placed a huge emphasis on sustainability, both on cost of delivery and carbon emissions. We were able to demonstrate in our tender that not only could we reach the goals set for the Games, but that we had the right long-term mindset. To this end, we will be providing our advisory services free of charge to Transport for West Midlands, sharing statistical and analytical data from the Games to help local transport networks to run better. We will also be providing data and knowledge to the wider events industry to support other shared transport and of course to the CGFP itself to help the organisation make further efficiencies for the 2026 and 2030 Games.

We were awarded a multi-Games agreement, under which the (CGFP) has the option to extend its partnership with Bridj across future Games until at least 2030, including Victoria 2026. It’s taken a great deal of work in a tight timeframe, but we have already forged relationships that we could never have created without it. Committing to a tender for a major global event is not something to take lightly, but for the right small business it could be a significant stepping stone to global expansion – particularly if approached in a spirit of trust, flexibility and collaboration.