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John Lusk, COO of Spire Martime, on how to succeed with expanding to Europe“When thinking of expanding your business to a new market, the first question you should ask yourself is ‘Why?’,” says Mr Lusk. “Do you want to enter a new market, access a specific talent pool, get government funding, benefit from a certain tax regime, or something else? Opening up an office in a new location is an expensive and time-consuming endeavour, and you need to be really clear about your objective before you go ahead.”

Expanding to Europe: A global mindset

“You also need to make sure that your company is truly committed to a global mindset,” he continues. “Spire is a global company by nature – we operate a global satellite constellation, sell data to clients all over the world and want to have a global impact on the planet – but we also hire staff with a global approach who are happy to interact with people from different countries, cultures and skill sets. If your employees are only used to working with and selling to people from their own country, expansion can be very difficult.

You need to make sure that your company is truly committed to a global mindset.

Finding the right people for your new office is absolutely essential and an aspect that you need to take into account when you choose your specific location in Europe. A first question is whether you can find or attract the talent you need to your office. A second essential issue is understanding human resources in your new location. Labour laws in Europe differ very much from those in the US. Understanding the dynamics, rules and regulations in the country you are expanding into will save you a lot of time and frustration down the line. Having a knowledgeable, dedicated HR person was critical to getting our Luxembourg office up and running.”

Partnering with local government

“One of the biggest success factors, however, is if you have the opportunity to partner with the local government. Being linked to the government in a smaller country like Luxembourg, which is looking to invest in companies that are bringing technologies and talent, gives you legitimacy. Government officials in smaller markets are often very eager to help and can add a lot of value, especially early on as you are trying to ramp up and establish your office. Luxembourg was fantastic in this respect: it was the Minister of the Economy himself who introduced us to the right people who could help us on the way when we arrived. Having someone to provide guidance in navigating the different government structures and understanding where to access funds was incredibly helpful. Forming such partnerships can provide companies with a competitive advantage, and it is essential for deep tech businesses,” Mr Lusk concludes.

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