StartUp - Jerry Everett of OnGlobal
Five years ago, Jerry Everett and his wife came to Nijmegen. He was full of ideas for new businesses, not all of which turned out to be equally successful. Partly due to a language barrier, but mainly because of the lack of a large local network. Now, Jerry has built a thriving company called On Global: he helps foreign countries overcome European barriers. Just as he did for himself.
He followed his wife here. She started a job as a postdoc at Radboud University. Jerry had sold his company in Canada and wanted to start over in the Netherlands. “The first thing I saw when I got off the train in Nijmegen was the big StartUp building. A huge sign read ‘Kom ondernemen!’ (‘Let’s do business!’). At the time, I didn’t understand what it meant, but I got in touch with Dick and, as the first international at StartUp, started working on one of my many business ideas.”
Turning experiences into a business model
Not all of his ideas turned out to be brilliant ones, says Jerry: “I started several companies. But there was little enthusiasm for them. What I now know, is that a solid local network was what was lacking. I had left my large corporate network in Canada behind and had to start all over.” Luckily, StartUp Nijmegen came to his rescue. “I became acquainted with the Dutch language and culture and gained access to a large network. That resulted in my first customers.”
With On Global, Jerry helps foreign software companies – particularly from the United States – to expand into Europe. Especially into regions where English is commonly spoken, like Scandinavia, England, and the Netherlands. “I help them with all kinds of aspects: the language barrier, cultural differences and bridging time zones. My five years in the Netherlands are of huge help in doing so. For examples, I know that companies should not expect huge profits in August, since everyone is on holiday”, he smiles. “At the same time, I am still constantly learning about various European cultures. In On Global blogs (blog.onglobal.co), I try to keep up with important developments.”
Doing business differently
Apparently, the Dutch do business differently in more than one way from what he was used to in Canada. “Entrepreneurs in the Netherlands really enter a relationship. Which is great, because once they get to know you, they want to do business with you. But on the other hand, they won’t do business if they don’t know who you are. That made it hard to get started”, explains Jerry. “And the Dutch are cautious people: with money, with time, with their reputation. They don’t want to waste a thing. As an entrepreneur, I now know that you have had to experience both failures and successes to be truly successful.”
A big advantage of doing business in the Netherlands is that most people speak English. Something that is rarer than we might assume, says Jerry: “Just look at Germany, France or Spain. It is much more difficult to communicate in English over there. I’m glad that the Dutch are so open and helpful, that has been of great help to me. And it still is.” The Dutch internet access is world class too. “You have access to the internet literally everywhere. That can’t be expected in other countries.”
Jerry explains how he had to learn to do business all over again. In another culture, with different norms and values than he was used to. “That has made me a much better entrepreneur than I was before. To be honest, I think I might have gotten a bit lucky in Canada. It’s unthinkable now, you really have to be good at what you do. So many people are starting their business. You have to figure out how to stand out.” And that means constantly trying to grow and improve. “I have turned continuous learning into a skill. I read a lot about Europe and learn as much as I can. That requires stepping out of my comfort zone once in a while, but that is precisely how I have become where I am today.”
In this blog series, The Life Net and StartUp Nijmegen like to show what an attractive region Nijmegen is to start and establish as an entrepreneur. It spotlights various internationals or companies that attract internationals. They like to share their inspiring story about how they started and grew with their business. Check StartUp Nijmegen for how they pay attention to this.