Welcome to Dispatches, our new project focused on the adventures and challenges of being an expatriate in Europe.
We – my wife/co-CEO Cheryl and I – have been working on this for about a year, starting shortly after we sold the digital-only news service we founded, Insider Louisville. Longtime expats, we returned to Europe this summer – Germany, Netherlands and Austria – to research, recruit team members and pitch to potential investors. We spent a lot of time in Eindhoven, which we’ve selected as our European headquarters. And we talked to everyone with whom we could get meetings.
Our conclusion: Conventional media companies are failing to notice an epochal moment in history. Expats are emerging as an increasingly important driver of global prosperity. As business grows more global every day, the number of expatriates is increasing. And we’re not talking only of corporate nomads.
In Berlin, entrepreneurs start a new Internet-based business every 20 hours. Many, if not all, rely on the people we call “techpats” to bring new digital skills, entrepreneurial talent and capital to Berlin. The Netherlands, Spain and France have all instituted special startup visas that can even lead to future help with investments.
Why? Because there is a talent war raging across the continent as European leaders try to figure out why they haven’t created their own Silicon Valleys.
Yet, there is no website/digital platform addressing all this. All aspects of expat life including travel and leisure, reference and how-to, tech talent attraction/retention and hard news about the startup scenes. There are also no Pan-European expat-focused websites connecting Europe’s major tech and business capitals.
With Dispatches, we’re creating an integrated platform – Internet, mobile, video and social media – aimed at English-speaking expatriates.
Our research indicates there are at least 2 million English-speaking expats in Europe. There are 231,000 expats in Germany, for example, whose native language is English, including people from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand.
To succeed, we know we have to wrap around the core digital media business a number of related efforts that compliment our effort to reach expats including a talent retention/talent attraction piece and a travel service taking entrepreneurs to innovation centers and introducing them to techpat talent and to investors.
We have few illusions about how ambitious this is. We spent eight years living in Turkey and Germany when I was a reporter for European Stars & Stripes. So we’ve seen the expat lifestyle from the inside, and know how overwhelming, frustrating and ultimately rewarding and stimulating it can be.
If we learned anything from all those years overseas, it’s this:
Dispatches won’t succeed unless we create an international lifestyle brand, a digital brand that captures and distills all that’s magical about being an expatriate.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.