Reaching People: From Istanbul to Europe via Estonia
Why Emre and Sinan from Turkey decided to establish their marketing technology company in Estonia with e-Residency
When Turkish Airlines first announced direct flights to Tallinn a few years ago, the people of Estonia were excited: not only was it a new way to reach exotic destinations, but it also meant easy access to things that are in great deficit in Estonia: the excitement of one of the world’s great supercities, and guaranteed sunshine. Like all great connections, this one worked both ways, and Estonia’s efforts to attract top IT talent with ease of doing business in the EU was not lost upon Istanbul’s startup generation.
Emre Savas and Sinan Elver were typical examples of the global generation: IT entrepreneurs already based in a bustling metropolis, but eager to access a global market. Their desire for ease of doing business with European customers led them to look into e-Residency as a way to run a company entirely remotely. Then, as they learned more about Estonia and saw it for themselves, they fell in love with the Northern country.
Reachpeople.co makes tools for marketing, customer research, retention and conversion. Based in Istanbul, the founders were eager to target a global audience — but while the crossroads of Europe and Asia is a great environment in which to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, it is not always the easiest place from which to run a knowledge-based business. Emre and Sinas decided they needed a legal entity in the EU. Originally intended as an entirely remote run corporation, the establishment of Reachpeople as a company in Estonia as e-residents exposed the two to the charms of Estonia in the flesh (and stone, glass, steel and timber). Now they regularly travel to Tallinn for face-to-face meetings with customers, and to take part in the city’s vibrant startup event scene.
The company’s portfolio of happy customers includes the European arms of top worldwide brands — and they are extremely well-positioned to continue that success.
How did e-Residency first come to your attention?
In 2016, when we started our project, we had the idea of making it a global product and selling it abroad. At that time, my partner travelled to London, so we decided to start a company in England. Then, when I was looking for alternative countries, I came across the e-Residency program. The idea of managing my company remotely, without the bureaucracy, was fantastic. Since the application fee of the e-Residency program is very cheap, we applied immediately. About a month later, my card came to Ankara and we moved forward with the company setup without waiting.
Other than the e-Residency aspect, what did you know about Estonia before?
Previously, I knew about the Cyber Security Master’s program offered by Tartu University. a few of my friends joined this program after graduating locally with degrees in Computer Engineering. So I had very limited and basic knowledge about Estonia, but I learned a lot while I was researching the e-Residency program.
According to my experience, Estonia is the best country I have ever seen in terms of doing global and borderless business. Especially for startup companies, I would say Estonia is a paradise.
What were your initial expectations from e-Residency before you started the process?
Since the application fees are very cheap, I can say that our Estonian adventure started experimentally. In other words, it was enough for us to know about Estonia and the tax system at the beginning. But from the moment we made our first visit to open a bank account, we realized how beautiful the whole country was. A country where medieval and modern architecture meet.
The first week we spent in Tallinn after the turmoil of Istanbul was perfect. Of course, we wouldn’t have been able to get the whole experience only by researching or joining the e-Residency program.
Were you already aware what kind of business you wanted to run via e-Residency, or did the business case develop later?
That’s the interesting part. The idea was to establish a remote business, but after contacting the startup ecosystem in Estonia, we began to visit more often. We had booths in the demo area of the Latitude59 and Startup Day conferences. We attended tech events. We organized our own event about marketing technologies. We invited our customers from different countries to Tallinn and held meetings. Moreover, we are constantly making plans for the future that involve Estonia.
What does your company do? Is your Estonian presence entirely virtual?
Reachpeople is a Customer Data Platform that lets you track visitors on your website or mobile app, split them into segments using lots of different filters, and feed them into marketing channels. It is an end-to-end marketing automation solution, with API access and integration with other tools.
Currently, our corporate presence in Estonia is purely virtual. However, we are often in Tallinn for meetings or events, and we are planning to relocate to Tallinn in the near future, rent an office, and expand our team via the Startup Visa program.
What do your local friends/colleagues say when they find out you are running an Estonian company?
Since 2016, both our customers and friends have supported this change. We are currently managing our whole business operation via Estonia. Our legal entity in Turkey provides only support services. Our goal is to become a service company that grows in the European market and serves customers all over the world.
What do you think should be the next steps for E-Residency? Where should its development focus?
From what I can see, the e-Residency program is constantly improving itself, just like a startup. They have a great team who listen to feedback and problems, and produce solutions. With an easy and understandable tax system, state support, and zero bureaucracy, I think it will mature day by day. There will be an ever-increasing number of e-residents, and a better community.
The most beautiful part is when you visit a startup’s webpage and see Estonia in the address section. There is a growing trend towards Estonia among entrepreneurs.
Want to read more about people like Emre and Sinan? Visit the e-resident stories section of our blog.
Reaching People: From Istanbul to Europe Via Estonia was originally published in E-Residency Blog, E-residentsuse blogi on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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