By Max Clarke

London-based private investigation firm Conflict International, who specialise in protecting high-net worth individuals from corporate espionage, has been making a name for itself across the globe with help from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).

In February 2010, Conflict International entered the US market to fulfil a need for private detectives, as infiltration activity becomes more common. Cut-throat competition provides the motive, as business leader’s battle over brand positions, talent and product development.

When Mike LaCorte, Partner at Conflict International, set up the company in 2008, he knew there was considerable potential for international expansion, so sought strategic support from UKTI London. He used its Passport to Export programme to work out the perfect strategy. Mike said:

“Over the past couple of years we have noticed an increase in US-based clients both private individuals and corporate entities, so decided to expand into the US market. Corporate fraud is often committed through internal sources, and if you consider this, you will not be surprised at all that private detectives are now very common all over the world.

“We approached UKTI and discussed our business model. They have played a significant role in helping us to extend our international reach. We worked closely with our UKTI International Trade Adviser (ITA), Qingling Guo, who helped me outline points I didn’t consider - such as financing the expansion, and targeted marketing.“

Mike’s first trip to New York allowed him to conduct further market research, set up the company incorporation, open the company bank account and source office space. He also met with a UKTI New York representative, which he said proved to be invaluable and helped him to target potential New York clients. Mike continues:

“UKTI helped to arrange meetings with lawyers in New York for our next trip. We had a busy schedule of meetings in Manhattan and quickly adapted to the New York style of business. Now we are back in London we are still busy and continuing our growth in the New York market.

Qingling Guo, London International Trade Advisor said:

“Mike has been very focused and determined to build overseas business from the day we met, showing a real drive to meet the international demand in this fast-growing industry. We look forward to continuing to help him expand in the USA and beyond.

"For an small business like Conflict International, building an international business can be challenging, especially in the current climate, but through its worldwide network, UKTI offers the kind of support and advice that can help companies realise their global potential. With Mike now targeting the Russian and Hong Kong markets, we will be on hand to offer assistance where necessary.”