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Thinking of Starting an Office Abroad

Which countries are good choices for a satellite office?



3:12 pm on Sep 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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We are currently based in the UK and are getting to the point of needing to increase in size. I am considering quite seriously taking the next 3-4 people on in somewhere in the eastern block.

The people will almost always be communicating with clients by email, and if not I can have a UK phone number anyway.

I would be very interested in any experience other people have of doing this, particularly recruitment, finding offices etc.

My initial thoughts were of Bulgaria, this is purely due to the fact that I love snowboarding and it is quite good there.

All feedback greatly appreciated, including any links to resources (Sticky if need be)



9:53 am on Sep 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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4:23 am on Sep 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I don't know much about Bulgaria, but I've been in Serbia a bunch and will definitely say that talent there is cheap. Finding real talent isn't so easy though... but if agencies in Romania can bill at US$20/hr for decent (not high-level) programmers then I imagine it's much cheaper in Bulgaria.

Hungary, where I live most of the time, has a nice mix of fairly low wages and fairly high standards, and is in the EU of course. That said, if you're already thinking Bulgaria then Hungary might be too pricey for you.

If you're going to outsource in the Balkans you will *need* a local point of contact whom you trust. I'd say you should pick a couple countries, make some contacts on the web, and then go there personally and meet people at least a couple times before making any decision. Business is very personal in that part of the world and if they don't like you they will not be good business partners.

Communication is unlikely to be much of a problem, everyone's on GSM and most folks can get DSL or cable installed. The main thing is finding people you're comfortable working with.

In the ex-East-bloc generally, people running ISPs know people who do tech work, and people running portals know who does websites. You can also contact technical universities to get the names of good recent graduates.

Hope that helps at least a bit.


1:08 pm on Sep 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member henry0 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

but if agencies in Romania can bill at US$20/hr for decent (not high-level) programmers

So how much do charge an India based Co.?

Sorry, I realize that I am off topic however the number caught my attention




6:19 am on Sep 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've been thinking about hiring "a broad" for the office, but I think that's different.


8:47 pm on Oct 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I know for a fact (got contacts there) that mid level programmers in Romania don't earn more than $400-600/month so $20/hour is unrealistic. Good salary is considered to be $200-250/mo.


10:05 am on Oct 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It is actually Bulgaria were looking at, any idea of what the pay scales are there?


6:17 am on Oct 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Frostman, you are absolutely right.

Main part of making a deal in this part of the world is making good contact with reliable people.

Haggling is acceptable, if you get the right people, and it can work as a charm for 15-25$ hour (depending on the job)

Also, many will accept working for much less than the job is worth, and that will only create problems for you (programmers that work for 200-250$ per month do a poor job especially these days, when prices are quite high)

Good points are that people here tend to speak better English than boys/girls from India. Also, everyone know everyone else here, so finding good people is not difficult, and background checks are relatively easy.

(I am from Serbia, if you didn't notice ;) )


5:04 pm on Oct 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Just two month ago I moved my office from New york to Ukraine. Lettme tell you, with proper contacts this can be turned into a gold mine.

I would not suggest Bulgaria or any other eastern countries. Think Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine. Those 3 countries are parts of former USSR and educational level of profesionals is very high.

If you do not set-up your office in the capital, you can easily find programmers, designers, etc for $200-$300 a month.

If you need any help or more info, sticky me.


10:51 am on Oct 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Artstart is right!
Here in Uktaine a lot of good IT projects (Kiev, Kharkov). Let me know what info exactly you need.


10:57 am on Oct 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Are you from Ukraine?


11:57 am on Oct 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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yes, from Kharkov.


1:11 pm on Oct 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well, it's a pleasure to meet here someone from our country =)

Welcome to webmasterworld and I'm sure you will find here answers to all of your questions and will prevail in dangerous seas of internet business =)


9:08 am on Nov 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm trying to build up a small team to provide online travel services, the project is Bulgaria driven but whether the team is based in Bulgaria or the Ukraine is of no matter - What is; is skillsets, cost and experience of the sector.

Let me know what you've done.




11:08 am on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Bulgaria is fine. We have a team of about 15 people there.

It can be a bit difficult getting the exact skill you need but the people are out there. You just need to keep looking.

There isn't much difference in programmer salaries between Romania and Bulgaria. The difference is that Sofia has the Vitosha mountain right next door :)

It's also pretty safe - foreigners don't have much to worry about - not the case further east.


11:44 am on Nov 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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After starting this post some time ago I have now taken on two people in Bulgaria and all is working well so far!


5:21 pm on Dec 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I am from Romania and I can reinforce what "hayrcoo" said: here a good programmer gets about 400-600 euros in salary.

But it all depends on the negotiation with the persons...

I am working for a german company since 4 years ago...and I charge that amount (but besides programming I am doing also marketing, usability, SEO, etc...all what needs for a site to run successful - because I am running their site).

We have in Romania a lots of talents...and the language is another reason you may want to try here: many people who are working in this industry - but not only - knows quite well the English language with not so evident accent.

Yes, we may not have the mountains right near the capital :)...but tey are quite near (100-150 Km from the capital). And the sea is also near...

So, you can try here too :)...I would be happy to help you with this if you want (be your contact here).



10:02 am on Jan 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I run my web business in Romania, too (12 people). There are plenty of talented guys to hire and it's very safe for foreigners. A lot of beautiful mountains, also (and of course skying resorts). I can also help you if you have plans to move here.

(sounds like those country TV comercials - "Visit Romania!" :) )


7:12 pm on Feb 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi, everyone.

We're starting an office in Romania and unfortunately, we're working from scratch.

Is there anybody of you out there who could assist me in this task?

thanks and hear from any good samaritans soon!


12:27 pm on Feb 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What do you think about Russia? Russia has great resources : more than 50% of students study math and IT. And salary is also very competetive - good programmers are from $450. Many Europian companies use Russia like backed facility...


2:44 pm on Feb 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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jsnow, who did you employ? programmers? what are the rates in Bulgaria and how did you find them?


11:53 pm on Mar 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've started an office in the Philippines which now has 10 employees doing web design and dev. It hasn't been easy, but the company started from scratch.
I work most of the year out of Baltimore, and clients are in Maryland and DC area.

The trust factor was good for me, but too peripheral. What you MUST have is a good GM you can trust. I had people like consultants that are highly capable but only there part time. I have 100% trust in them. Then I had 2 office supervisors that didn't have enough managment experience overseeing everyone else. Many actualy started blaming me for any problems, which is easy for them. With a good GM this would not have happened.

Actually I am basically putting a LOT of effort into making this a mini call center at nihgt (4 best of the best phone sales guys who worked for big american offshore telemarketing firms) and half design/dev. I haven't proven it yet, but I think the offshore call center calling BtoB is so effective that it is what will really push my company over the edge.

I also started to big. My monthly expenses are at about $12,000 per month including 3K for my own living expenses. I had NO clients when we started. I didn't start with very much personal savings (lets say under 100K)

My office is 100 Square feet and is just amazing. 1000 USD per month only. 15th floor and more modern and stylish than most upscale offices in buildings in business areas of big cities. I don't know how much this would cost elsewhere. This helps attrach and retaiin employees.

I have had some problems with communication, even though people speak flawless English in the Phils. Also, even though people associate with American culture there, I find that their different ideas get in the way of their ideas about how to design a site

For example, we're doing a site for a "private placement" company who does investments for the super rich. But my designer just couldn't quite get the image right for what would look "VERY conservative"-- even though I hand held him a lot.

I hope some of you all can report back with your stories. I really want to share notes!


12:53 am on Mar 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Interesting Stuff

What made you choose the Philippines?

How does a good programmer cost per month?

Do you use VOIP for your B2B calls?


12:44 am on Apr 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Salary range in IT in Romania is from minimum 150 euros for entry level to about 800 euros for senior software engineers.
There are rare cases of salaries above 1500 euros a month in IT.

You can find a good software engineer in the 500-800 range. A very good one above that, you can even get a CS international olympic winner for around 2000 euros :-).

Above salaries are for desktop software developers. Web programmers are paid a hundred or two less, sure not below 150.

Good web designer makes around 500 euros a month. Above 1000, he must be a star.

Salaries also vary a bit from company to company. If you have a good working environment, you won't leave for an extra hundred.

In Bucharest salaries are also a few hundred higher then in the rest of the country.

Here goes the biased part ;-)

I would advise you to go for Romania because:
- more similar cultures then in Asian countries (Romanians are christians, american dream is followed here too)
- nice country and people
- highly educated and skilled people, even with international certifications
- good English speakers (I wonder how many errors I've made..)
- many already have the experience of working for a western customer
- total population is about three times greater then in Bulgaria, so there's a larger selection base

[edited by: engine at 11:48 am (utc) on April 17, 2005]
[edit reason] no solicitations see TOS [/edit]


6:22 am on Apr 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Besides this, we have among the most beautiful women in the world ;-)! (for who is interested)



5:39 am on Apr 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Guys, sorry, but there has been a sad mistake about the the romania woman vs. those in the rest of the world

I am in Cebu, and many think the most beautiful woman in Asia are in this area of the country. You would be shocked at the number of americans that come here to me a potencial wife.

I don't know about good programers, but GREAT programmers are P35K per month and it's P54 to the USD.

This guy at that amount worked for a worldwide dotcom with over 2 mil members. It was sold by americans to some Europeans who moved the company here 3 years ago.

This is one of closely guarded "secrets" BUT SO many people have posted messges on these boards, I feel I really owe something back.


1:32 pm on May 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Russia or Ukraine could definitely do the thing. But I would recommend staying away from the capitals (Moscow, Kiev). Simply because you will be overcharged. There are lots of other big cities with great heads in these countries.

The big question is: do you want to expand to find a bigger market (as you write to increase in size) or are you thinking of moving your operation to a cheaper place? Or maybe both? :-)


5:27 pm on May 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Anyone with an office in Warsaw. What's it like tax wise in Poland?


9:37 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I heard Poland is introducing a very low flat tax...

I already employ a coder in Romania and find him to be a great worker and a very valuable asset to my company. Looking to find another couple of guys there and then rent office space. Planning a trip there asap - the girl from the "Visit Romania" ads clinched it for me, lol.


10:24 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Here in Romania also have a low flat tax of 16% (starting with this year)...

If you need more info about Romania I can give you...free, of course :)...

Mircea (who is leaving Romania this autumn for US :) )

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