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Here are three ways that immigrants make a tech company stronger

Individuals who immigrate often embody qualities that are highly sought after by employers — bravery and adaptability, for starters.

A man marching in a protest holds a sign reading “Tech has no walls”
Comcast tech employees walk out of work to rally against President Trump's recent immigration order on Feb. 2, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Jessica Kourkounis / Getty Images

Worldwide, the topic of immigration seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. From our perspective, immigration has not only had a positive impact on our company; in many ways, we see it as a necessity. It’s not just the diversity of opinions and points of view that can lead to success, or the impact that kind of individual courageousness can have on a business — It’s about having an international team, sitting together in one place. This allows for faster decision-making and abundant learning opportunities.

Immigration creates brave, adaptable entrepreneurs

Rather than solely having something to gain, an individual gives something up when emigrating to another country. They’re giving up the comfort of the familiar and taking the risk of starting over in a completely new environment. That’s bravery. It is also, in many ways, very entrepreneurial. And it’s because of this bravery that they’re not afraid to fail and are open to trying out lots of things to make the most of their experience — which tends to break down barriers and allows them to connect well with those around them.

Individuals who immigrate often embody qualities that are highly sought after by employers. For instance, how many jobs call for someone to be adaptable and flexible? There are few better ways to demonstrate these traits than moving to a foreign country — being thrust into a new environment and having to learn to thrive in unfamiliar surroundings.

Diversity of opinion forces learning and pushes innovation

For an international tech company like Trivago, immigration has been a very important part of our success. It’s the cultural nuances that help us to challenge one another and allow for intelligent exchange of opinion. Trivago is made up of “knowledge workers,” and fast learning and trust are at the forefront of our values, both of which help to propel our business.

I can’t imagine that this is an isolated case that only works at Trivago. Arguably, having such entrepreneurial, curious individuals coming from diverse cultural backgrounds with varying perspectives can help any business, regardless of whether it is a global company or small startup. Look at Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Expedia: He’s a very entrepreneurial individual, and as he recently stated, also a former Iranian who sought refuge in America. There’s also Google’s Sergey Brin, a Russian-born immigrant whose family also sought refuge in America.

No matter the country, being able to approach a problem from various, non-homogeneous angles allows individuals to also see beyond what they’re conditioned or accustomed to seeing, which is when innovation happens.

Decisions are made faster and more efficiently in one place

While Trivago operates in 33 languages worldwide, 90 percent of the team works from our headquarters in Dusseldorf. Two-thirds of that team are not from Germany — instead, they emigrated from a variety of different countries (we have more than 50 nationalities working at our company).

Looking at how Trivago moves from one market into another can give an indication as to how immigration affects us directly and results in faster expansion. In 2013, Trivago was present in 39 markets; today, it is in 55. By using the learning and profits from established markets and investing them into new markets, our brand has been able to quickly scale into new countries. The speed at which Trivago has grown is directly reflected within our compound annual growth rate, which has been 90 percent over the past five years.

This is also true of our advertising campaigns. We have found that what works in one market can also work in several markets. Having an in-house multicultural team allows for quicker learning exchange and campaigns to be rolled out faster. As a result, we are able to consistently roll out different Mr. and Mrs. Trivago campaigns in countries around the world.

In our experience, the key benefit of having all cultures sitting together in one place is the speed of communication and knowledge sharing. Besides the ample opportunities to learn from one another, discussions are concentrated and projects are easier to coordinate simply because of proximity. Normally, such fast expansion would be a problem for a business with decentralized decision-making. Trying to communicate and coordinate multiple ideas across multiple teams in multiple offices would not only be significantly slower, but it would also dilute our company culture.

One straightforward example: If you want to reach Koreans effectively, you need to be able to speak, write and read Korean. You need to understand Korean cultural norms and tendencies. In a globally competitive economy, the only advantage is the speed at which learning occurs. Teaching a German to take on the role of a Korean would be slow and cumbersome and could impact our ability to grow and serve new markets and new users.

The proof

People from different backgrounds, when put together, deliver a competitive advantage. That’s fact — and not the alternative kind. There are many studies that prove that more diverse workforces perform better financially. McKinsey reported that ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians.

The testimonial

Manuel Delgado, who has been with Trivago for more than two years, offers his own experience: “As a Mexican, I’m proud to be part of a multicultural team that understands the strategic importance of reaching Hispanic consumers in the U.S., especially as they make up 16 percent of the American population (per the 2015 U.S. census). The U.S. has the second-largest population of native Spanish speakers in the world, and I feel a strong connection between my own background and culture and my Hispanic audience in this country. My work for Trivago strengthens those bonds and lets me learn and grow with my English-speaking colleagues as we work together to strengthen the Trivago brand in the U.S. Personally, I truly believe that the preservation of one´s culture doesn´t need to be at the expense of another’s, and that belief is not only upheld by my team and my company, but is definitely one of the keys to our success.”

How every company can benefit from immigration

Amidst our differences, diversity allows us to build up trust and effectively learn from one another. Encouraging immigration also, in a sense, encourages entrepreneurship, which can ultimately help make an impact in a continuously changing world.


Rolf Schrömgens, the co-founder and CEO of Trivago, is a German internet entrepreneur, investor and founder of two global companies. Trivago began as a self-coded tool in 2005 and has grown into a global hotel search platform. Schrömgens has invested in more than 30 European and American startups with his VC fund, Monkfish Equity, including Delivery Hero, Hello Fresh, Wallapop, Blablacar and Spot Hero. He is also the former German president of the global nonprofit Entrepreneurs Organization. He is actively involved in Germany's startup scene, advising both young and experienced entrepreneurs. Reach him @rolfschromgens.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.