From Berlin to Brazil: 3 Chicago tech companies on international expansion

by James Risley
March 2, 2017

While Chicago is obviously a great place to start your startup, some business models require international expansion to be closer to overseas customers, tap into non-domestic talent or take advantage of growth opportunities in far-off lands. We talked to three companies with Chicago roots that have offices outside the United States on why they expanded — and how they keep overseas teams in the loop. 

 

Machinery marketplace Machinio has an office in Berlin where its European sales and account management teams sit, according to Machinio’s Laura Pereira. The company facilitates buying and selling used industrial equipment.

Why did you expand to Berlin?

Germany is Machinio's largest European market, and Berlin is a tech hub with lots of talent, so it made sense to be there.

How do Chicago employees interact with overseas counterparts? 

We use Slack and Google hangouts religiously to stay in touch. Even with the time difference, we have virtual meetings almost daily. We have also had the opportunity for some of our European teammates to visit us here in Chicago and vice versa.

Any other notes you want to share about your international offices?

It's really great to have a place where our European employees can work together. When we first started hiring overseas, everyone was working remotely, and they didn't get to experience really working together with the team. Opening an office has helped us foster the same culture we have in Chicago with our European teammates.

 

Enova has offices in Brazil and the U.K., staffed by customer service, compliance, finance, operations and marketing teams. The online financial services provider has a global business model, so it makes sense for them to have offices around the globe.

Why did you expand to Brazil and the U.K.?

Enova's vision is closing the world's credit gap. Expanding to Brazil and the U.K. was a natural move because of the great opportunity we saw to serve customers in those markets. As a fintech company with over 12 years of experience, we can use our technology platform and real-time analytics capabilities to quickly test, launch and scale new products. Plus, London and Brazil aren't bad places to visit when Chicago winters come around!

How do Chicago employees interact with overseas counterparts?

We're regularly in touch across all of our offices through email, phone and inter-office chat. At our quarterly meetings we often feature the great work being done by team members at our international locations. It's always exciting to see the latest developments from across the world.

 

Enfusion’s Chicago office supports a wide range of staff for the portfolio management and risk platform, but the London and Hong Kong (above) offices host operations, trading support and business development teams for their respective regions. The company also plans to open an office in Dublin later this year.

Why did you expand to Hong Kong and London?

Our cloud-based application enables asset managers around the world to efficiently manage their trading operations. Outside of the United States, Hong Kong and London are two of the largest markets for asset management firms. We pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to clients. In order to do so, we must have teams on the ground who truly understand what our clients need.

How do Chicago employees interact with overseas counterparts?

Technology makes communication between global teams much easier. While phone calls and emails still reign supreme, we utilize Google Hangouts and other video conferencing tools to make the interactions more personal.

 

Images via featured companies

Where do you want your startup to expand? Let us know with a tip or a tweet @BuiltInChicago

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