We ask each of the Founding Members of the European PropTech CrossBorder Initiative on their tips on how to shortcut internationalisation. Here's our talk with Sylvia Pavlova, Founder PropTech Bulgaria
- What should I analyze before taking the decision to expand to another European country?
There are very few prime factors you need to take into consideration when expanding to another European country. Let me specify first that what I’ll share refers to the CSEE region (Central & South-East European).
Firstly, whether there is a market for your PropTech solutions. This is being defined by the existing national legislation, coming legislative changes, as well as the traditional industry norms of how business in made. If any of these is an issue, we usually don’t recommend entering the country at the given time.
Secondly, whether you can enter by your own company. This implies at least two scenarios: (1) Can you operate through your own legal entity, without setting a new one in the country? (2) Do you need a local partner who will open the doors for you? Should you operate through his legal entity, or whether you have to settle a new one?
There are a number of countries which will not pay any attention to you if you don’t have a local office, or acting through a local partner firm, thus consider you one of theirs (such as Sweden, Finland, Romania). There are countries which are more liberal and interactions are very simplified and doing business is very easy such as Bulgaria. Here there is one more factor which plays its role in some cases: if you have to know the local language. This is the case with the former set of countries. Knowing the local language is completely irrelevant in the case of Bulgaria, as Bulgarians in their majority speak English plus in some cases one or two more of these languages: German, Russian, French.
- After analyzing, how should I start to make contacts in the new country?
The trick is not to just make contacts in the country you’d like to enter, but to make the right contacts. Whether you’ll make the right contacts will define how much time and how successful your market entry will be. All of us know that time is more precious than money when you are a startup. So, having the right contacts, thus shortening the entry time can make you or break you.
When referring to PropTech, national PropTech associations in the majority of cases can be your most reliable partner to complete your market entry. Of course, there are exceptions. For example, in the case of Germany, it is better to turn to blackprint, or in the case of Spain, to API. Additionally, there are not national PropTech associations in each of the European countries. However, a national association such as PropTech Bulgaria can always tell you if there is a reliable partner in a certain country and which he is.
- How do I start operations with the new country?
As already mentioned above, it depends on the country. There is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. PropTech Bulgaria for example can support you to answer your prime factor questions, and help you with the right contacts. Usually such a partner can give you very precise information on what is necessary and when it is necessary to set your operations in the respective country.
- What´s next after the first sale?
If you make the first sale, this is like demolishing the wall to your market entry. Everything you do for the first sale is the most important. Afterwards, things are very easy-going.