When international companies choose the location for their European office, there are a number of factors to take into account. Fedor Antonov, CEO of continuous fibre 3D printing specialist Anisoprint, highlights a range of considerations not to overlook, and recommends company executives to give priority to spending time in their new location.
Fedor Anotov: “Anisoprint provides continuous fibre 3D printing for the manufacturing of optimal composites and was first set up in Russia. However, we quickly saw that the demand for new innovative solutions was much bigger in Europe and realised that we needed a presence there. In 2019, we moved our headquarters to Luxembourg.
I advise choosing a place where you feel supported and have a partner who will help you when you have problems or questions.
We were looking for a place for our European office where English was commonly used, also for administrative procedures and business support programmes, with a good tax environment for start-ups. Luxinnovation, with whom we were in discussion in Luxembourg, was also the most open and supportive of all the agencies with which we interacted. This welcome had a big impact on our decision. I advise choosing a place where you feel supported and have a partner who will help you when you have problems or questions.
Avoiding the one-market lock-in
It is tempting to locate your European office in the country where your first customers are, but that is not necessarily the best option. If you initially focus all your efforts on one country only, you can lock yourself in in just that one market. If you remain more open-minded, you can easily have access to the whole of the EU. We do not have many local customers in Luxembourg, so we remain focused on the global market. We wanted to be in a place where we could easily serve clients in different countries, not least Germany and France. Travelling around Europe is no problem.
Determination: the key success factor
All companies will face problems during the establishment process, and it never goes as fast as you expect. A very important success factor is your determination. I was very motivated when we moved the company to Luxembourg, and once I was there, I realised that the value proposition of the local ecosystem by far exceeded what I initially thought. However, I of course also discovered some disadvantages and hurdles. Keep in mind that you will always hear about the advantages of a new location, and once you are there, you will see the downsides. You really need to follow the path you have chosen, and once you are established, new opportunities will unfold. If you persevere, your determination will pay off.
Once I was there, I realised that the value proposition of the local ecosystem by far exceeded what I initially thought.
I recommend managing as much of your establishment process as you can yourself. If consultants do everything for you, you will never learn how administrative and legal procedures work. Handling the procedures yourself will give you insight and understanding and offer you opportunities to form personal relationships that can be very valuable. The fact that all administrative information is available in English in Luxembourg helps, of course.
Spending time in the new location of your European office
Building your network requires time and effort – it takes years for people to really get to know and trust you and start mentioning your company to others. You need to spend at least half of your time in the new location of your European office. It can be very tempting to just go to the new place occasionally for a couple of days when you have meetings, but this makes the adaptation period much longer.
For me, the real key to success is to choose a country that is not only good for your business, but that you love.
For me, the real key to success is to choose a country that is not only good for your business, but that you love. If you are eager to get to know the place and the culture you will want to spend more time there, and then it will be much easier to build your network, solve issues and get the business going.”