David Sneddon, a seasoned executive who since 2011 has been working for Google, meets fDi in Warsaw just a few hours before heading back to Dublin. “I would love to see more of Warsaw, but right after our meeting I need to jump on a plane,” says Mr Sneddon. “Rushing home?” this reporter asks. “Yes, that too, but mostly for a U2 concert. They will be playing in Dublin, of all places!” Mr Sneddon says excitedly.

But when he is not excited about Bono and his colleagues, what excites Mr Sneddon the most are the e-commerce export opportunities that can be found in countries such as Poland. “I see enormous opportunities here and in other central and eastern European countries, with many SMEs being ready to expand internationally,” he says. Apart from central and eastern Europe, the biggest export potential, he says, can still be found in France, which has “a large number of incredible brands that sometimes struggle to tap the power of the internet when exporting their products.”

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Global bright spots

Outside Europe, the biggest potential can be found in south-east Asia, according to Mr Sneddon. “Literally millions and millions of new internet users are added there every day,” he says. “This year alone, we shipped more than 50 million Android OS devices to Malaysia, so we will have millions of new users who might never have had a chance to use a PC, but will be using the internet via mobile phones.”

Across the globe from Malaysia is another bright spot of export opportunities, according to Mr Sneddon. “Argentina has been rapidly recovering from its last currency crisis [in 2014] and while there might not be enough disposable income there to make it an interesting destination to export to, it definitely has a lot of interesting companies to export from,” he says.

But an abundance of interesting companies and those that are interested in exporting their goods is one thing, knowing how and where to do it is another. And that is where Google wants to step in. “We have a whole number of tools, such as Global Market Finder, that can be used for a free and quick market research. We even have trained sales teams that help you decide where to expand,” says Mr Sneddon.

Reaching for the sky

How it works in practice is best shown by the example of eSky, a Polish tourist services firm. “[The company] came to us a couple of years ago looking to expand into new markets and we told it: 'Look, there is a wealth of opportunities in Brazil and no one else seems to be jumping on it. You should go there'.” Fast-forward to 2016 and eDestinos, a subsidiary of eSky, is a leading travel website in Brazil.

And what’s in it for Google: is it charitable work? As it turns out, not quite. “In business there is no such thing as a free lunch. We hope that when companies go to new markets, they will use our products to advertise, via channels such as Google AdWords or YouTube,” says Mr Sneddon. “The more business there is done across the borders, the better business for us.”