This interview is a part of FBCC member series and was conducted with Mark Dodsworth, who is the Founding Partner, Owner, and the Managing Director of Europartnerships Ltd.
Europartnerships primarily specializes in supporting the internationalization of SMEs. Most of their clients are SMEs looking to enter new markets, frequently the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland. Their key service is to find partners for businesses, for example, sales representatives suchi as agents, distributors, resellers, and end clients or potential strategic alliances. Europartnerships also works for larger companies to organize events, for example, product presentations and awareness-raising events. The company is highly experienced and in fact, they have just had their 20th anniversary, in September 2020.
There is a story behind the company name. Originally, when Europartnerships was founded in 2000, they were working exclusively within Europe so attaching “euro” to the company name was quite easy and obvious. The “partnerships” part comes from the nature of the business, which is about researching and arranging business partnerships across international frontiers. There were companies with similar names but none with the exact name “Europartnerships”, so the founders of the company quickly registered the name and have had it ever since.
There are three key things in the company culture from Mark Dodsworth’s point of view. Firstly, the company is quite female-oriented as out of 9 workers, 7 are females. The co-founder of the company was also a woman. Secondly, the company culture is very flat. Even though Mark is the sole shareholder and owner of the company, he thinks that it is all about team effort and it is very important to listen very carefully to the thoughts and opinions of his colleagues. Thirdly, Europartnerships is a multi-cultural company. They have team members from Colombia, Spain, The Netherlands and Germany. In addition, Mark himself is half British and half American so the company is not a typical UK company in this respect.
Mark says it would be lovely to have something big happening in the near future but, as a result of the current situation, all the big things are unfortunately on stand-by at the moment.
Europartnerships has some events coming up for whenever it is possible and safe to organize them again. They are planning for instance to organise events for a Finnish company called Solibri at the Finnish Embassies in London and Berlin. Europartnerships also hopes to deliver another event in London, for a Finnish company, VTT. Additionally, Europartnerships has developed a partnership with a consultant in South America. With this partner, Europartneships has obtained a series of sales meetings with tech companies in Costa Rica, Argentina, and Colombia. This is one of the new opportunities that arose during the lockdown and normally they would have not expected to be working there.
The pandemic has not affected the day to day life at Europartnerships that much. To some degree, their employees were already working remotely before the pandemic, because all their clients are non-British and are based in other countries. Previously, the clients used to travel to the UK for events and meetings, but now all the communication is of course happening online. The company is not using their office at the moment as it is partly closed, and everyone is working from home.
The biggest difference for Mark is that he is not traveling at all. Normally he would go to Norway, Finland, or Germany at least once a year, but now it is not possible to even plan future travels. Now the only travel, and therefore the big excitement for him, is to be able to travel to London. He comes from his home in Bristol to meetings and has managed to get to London three times since March.
Mark’s number one tip for working from home is to avoid spending too long a time in front of the screen. If you are lucky enough to live near nature, go for a run or a cycle. Keeping healthy is very important – this includes eating well and keeping your mind active. Do not let the lockdown get you down. Another key is to communicate with people. Most of the time it has to be online via Zoom or similar technology but if you can meet people physically in a safe way and if it is at all possible, you should do that.
The biggest benefits of being part of the FBCC for Europartnerships are of course networking and making those business connections, as well as other opportunities they get from the FBCC, such as business referrals. Mark points out they have been very pleased to have been able to work with other prominent FBCC members, such as Outokumpu and Digitalist Group.