How to find a partner who will help you enter a foreign country?
As I stated above, I did not know anyone in the real estate market in London. However, I felt that we needed someone who could help us find answers to our outstanding questions and help organise meetings in London with landlords, brokers and perhaps some leasing agents as well.
To this end, I first updated my LinkedIn profile with information that we had a plan to open an office in London. Next, I upgraded my profile to the PRO version and started contacting anyone who had any links with the real estate market in London. I said that we were looking for a partner there and asked candidates for a Skype conversation. I had conversations with several people from LinkedIn, during which we discussed our Biz-cen project and their attitude towards participating in it. In the end, however, we did not move from talks to concrete actions.
Secondly, I posted a vacancy at two head-hunter (recruitment) sites; one in Moscow, one in London After holding several Skype interviews with potential candidates, it became clear that our plan to open a London office came across as being a highly speculative start-up plan. People looking for jobs online rarely look for positions at start-ups. As a result, I did not find anyone who could help us achieve our goals.
Thirdly, as we were well-established in Russia, I already knew several senior managers in London-based real estate companies. Communicating with one such manager, I was assured that he would talk with his colleague in their London office. However, he did not provide any valuable information after our meeting.
In the end, I made some progress through blind luck/by pure coincidence/purely by coincidence. While I was trying different ways of finding someone in London with valuable expertise, my friend Sasha Grigoriev was teaching at Zelman Schools in London. There, he met Jacob, obtained his business card and passed it on to me. I made a pitch to Jacob, and he agreed to help us to organise the necessary meetings in London.