​For most mid-sized businesses, traveling all the way from Singapore to Los Angeles to attend an industry conference would need to yield some pretty great returns on the investment to be considered a win. This year, a small Microsoft ISV partner called Astoria Consulting made just such a trip—to the Microsoft World Partner Conference, 2011—and found it to be a very satisfying, beneficial endeavor.

 
Serving Marine Customers
 
With their primary base of operations in the island country of Singapore, it perhaps seems natural that Astoria’s core market would be the marine industry. Their business focus is delivering solutions and technology-driven business models tailored to their marine customers’ needs—from individual contractors, to large-scale shipyards. And since starting out in 2003, they’ve done quite well for themselves, receiving the Ministry of Transport’s Minister’s Innovation Award 2010 and Microsoft’s ISV Partner of the Year that same year.
 
Networking, Learning, Sharing
 
Despite it being a considerable commitment for a smaller ISV across the ocean, CEO and founder Dominic Loke is very enthusiastic about Astoria’s decision to attend WPC 2011. “Networking was great, as was the cross-fertilization of ideas. More importantly, we are able to benchmark against some of the largest and most successful companies around the world, and gauge how advanced our thinking and concepts are compared to these other practitioners.”
 
Accepting an invitation to attend a manufacturing industry-focused roundtable discussion for Azure ISVs, the smaller visiting business made a strong impression on others in attendance (7 of the 9 companies were larger U.S. firms). The Azure application they’ve developed for the marine industry was considered particularly impressive, as was the substantial ($1M) grant they received from the Singapore government in support of cloud-based initiatives. This opportunity to learn from and share with—not to mention, impress—other partners within their industry was a highlight of the conference for Astoria.
 
Emerging Opportunities
 
Asked about positive business outcomes he hoped Astoria would see come out of the experience, Loke offered that attending WPC 2011 had already “led to new insights into how we may potentially work with Microsoft and these partners to address emerging opportunities.” He also mentioned that Astoria received interest in follow-up meetings from several of the companies at the roundtable almost immediately following the conference.
 
Would he recommend attending WPC 2012 to other partners?
 
“Absolutely.”​