by Alan Mc Glinchey, VP Emerging Growth Companies, IDA
When your business is growing and it’s time to expand overseas to Europe, deciding on the best location typically requires executive teams to hop on a plane for in-person site visits. In the 40 years that IDA Ireland has had an office in Silicon Valley, there has never been a time when it was not practical for prospective clients to travel to Ireland - until now.
This “itinerary” facet of the investment process has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, we’re finding that we’re accomplishing many of the same results virtually. This was seen in part by the October news that seven US companies announced European expansion through a base in Ireland. Whether companies are in the midst of their evaluation process or starting from scratch, they are still expanding to Europe. Virtual meetings are working - in fact, for some companies, the process has proved quicker.
During these itineraries, our team prepares a customized program of high-value meetings with Irish-based leaders of peer companies and critical service providers. The trip's focus is to equip senior executives with everything they need to make the decision that Ireland is the place they should base their international operations.
While normally meetings would take place overseas, hosting these itineraries online allows me to attend all of them - an upside for me. Even when I’m conducting business from my home base on the US West Coast, I can sit in on these morning virtual conferences and hear directly from potential investors and capture the nuances we need to ensure we match prospects to the best solutions for their business.
In the last five years, as global markets widen, US companies are expanding to Ireland at a rate of one every 5 days, and from the West Coast at a rate of one every 2 to 3 weeks. Recent travel restrictions have not kept companies from their scheduled plans. Earlier this month, the following US-based companies announced plans for their expansions in Ireland. And while not all of these used the online itinerary process, there were many virtual meetings involved.
• Seattle-based Moz Inc. conducted some of its hiring activities virtually. Moz, a search engine optimization company, established a customer success team in Cork to support its ongoing expansion into the European market. The first six of their 10 expected jobs in customer support and account management were onboarded virtually, in the midst of Covid.
• Oregon-based Nulia has established Dublin as its first EMEA headquarters to service customers and grow EMEA presence availing of talent in sales, customer success, software engineering, data science and operations.
• Simple But Needed, headquartered in San Francisco, will set up its European headquarters in Ireland to avail of talent in support, customer success and engineering sales professionals.
• ProSearch, a provider of discovery solutions for corporate legal departments will expand its office in Dublin. The company will source talent in IT and data center operations, data privacy and security, forensics, and other eDiscovery services.
• Eliatra, an IT services and solutions company will locate its new product development and European HQ in Ireland.
From the perspective of time efficiencies and speed, there are practical reasons why e-visits are here to stay. If a tech company needs to settle in quickly, there are 300 digital hubs around Ireland with ”landing space” in shared working environments. It’s also become commonplace to hire staff virtually.
That said, we also look forward to the return of work travel because in-person visits make a tremendous impact. The depth of the picture that senior executives gain by being in Ireland – by touching and feeling and understanding what a location offers their business is hard to replace in a virtual environment. Nuanced conversations that happen outside of the meeting, at dinner or over coffee – all these cultural aspects are incredibly important.
For further information on how IDA Ireland can support international business expansion, download our Land and Expand Playbook, check out our High Growth Companies infographic, or visit idaireland.com.
Alan Mc Glinchey is a VP of Emerging Growth Companies at IDA Ireland, based in IDA's Silicon Valley office where he assists West Coast companies establish a presence in Ireland, to grow their European market base and support their international customers.
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