Indrek Kaing: The larger and further away the market, the more important the state’s support becomes

The international e-commerce logistics company Post11 interacts with clients on every continent on a daily basis, servicing their goods in dozens of countries. Cooperation with Estonian embassies abroad and the embassies of other countries has always been important to the company.

According to Indrek Kaing, the head of external relations at Post11, however innovative Estonia considers itself to be, it remains tiny and unknown to many large countries. On such markets, it makes no difference whether you’re one of the country’s biggest companies with years of history behind it or a start-up.

“The golden rule is that the bigger and further away the country, the more important the state’s support is in order to develop actual relationships with the right people,” Kaing says. “The business culture and situation are a bit easier in Europe, but things can get a lot more strenuous if you’re looking towards Asia.”

Kaing gives companies operating in Estonia some useful recommendations on how to boost their business with the help of international visits.

  • The most important is to make what you’re aiming for as clear as possible, meaning that thorough preparations are vital. Embassies, Enterprise Estonia, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and others can only help you if you can accurately define your needs.
  • Knowledge of the field must be part of the company’s expertise, but the state, Enterprise Estonia and the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry can also contribute and open doors.
  • It’s best if you know a specific company or institution in your target country and the name of a person working there who you’d like to meet. If you don’t, you can ask for recommendations.
  • In getting anyone to agree to a meeting, there’s a big difference whether they’re being approached by an unknown company or by an embassy.
  • If you get the chance to join a delegation going to the country you’re interested in, try to arrange a meeting at which the chief organiser of the visit is also present.
  • You can ask the embassy to help you plan a meeting with the heads of large or complex companies. In some cases it’s possible to arrange a meeting in the embassy itself, which is a matter of honour in its own way. The company you’re interested in would find it hard to ignore or turn down such an invitation.
  • Before boarding the plane, make sure you familiarise yourself with local customs and cultural peculiarities, which foster friendships more quickly and help you avoid foolish mistakes at the same time.
  • On every such trip you have the chance to learn and gain priceless experience, contributing to the development of your endeavours.
  • In addition to cooperation with embassies in foreign countries and in Estonia, Kaing says Post11 interacts daily with ministries, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Enterprise Estonia. For example, an export adviser from Enterprise Estonia was recently called upon for their services, which Kaing suggests others try as well.

“Where state visits are concerned,’ he adds, “as the representative of Post11 I had the honour of accompanying President Kersti Kaljulaid on a visit to China and attending the World Economic Forum in September 2018. Among other things, we received support to develop relations with the local authorities during our visit. And in October, our team took part in a logistics trade fair in China, sharing a stand with Enterprise Estonia. The format is incredibly rewarding, because no one is likely to have the budget they need to gain the same level of attention on their own, or even if they do, it just wouldn’t make sense to even try.”

Last November, chairman of the Post11 management board Ardi Ratassepp accompanied Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Rene Tammist on a visit to Shenzhen in China, where the head office of SF Express, a major shareholder in the company, is located. The purpose of taking part in visits is to use the power of travelling with a state representative to develop and strengthen local relationships.

“The state has created a range of possibilities for companies wanting to export, which I recommend trying out,” Kaing says. “A state is its people, and public institutions are created to help us, be it with consular issues or economic issues. The new portal visiidid.ee provides a completely new perspective on this field and opens up even more opportunities to Estonian entrepreneurs.”

Kaing, who has been doing business internationally for close to two decades, has come into contact with dozens of embassies, ambassadors and economic advisers over the years.

“I’m enormously grateful to the Estonian foreign service for the support I’ve received so far, and I hope we’ll have a long and successful partnership,’ he says.

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