Over 232 million people relocate annually to all corners of the globe, yet only a fraction receive professional support from relocation service providers. Millions of foreign assignees are left to find their own way around their new home country, with varying levels of success. The brand new platform Xpatris.com aims to help smooth their entry into Belgium by providing immediate access to the most essential information. We spoke with cofounder Salvatore Orlando to find out more.
'"Imagine how confusing it is for new arrivals. Where do you even begin looking?” '
What led you to develop this platform?
“Thousands of expats move to Europe every single day and most of them do this without support from their employer. They’ll ask family, friends and acquaintances who have relocated before them for advice or end up on Google. And much as they’ll receive useful information, a lot of it will be contradictory and can be hugely confusing.”
“In fact, the platform is a great solution for expats who are already living here too. To give an example, I’ve been living in Belgium for 10 years, but when I recently wanted to look into extra dental cover, I was lost. There’s a sea of information out there, but if you search for ‘dental cover plans Belgium’ you end up with a list of dentists and articles on social security. All I wanted to know was which providers offer which plans. Imagine how confusing it is for new arrivals. Where do you even begin looking?”
“This is the problem we want to solve with Xpatris.com. We’ve carefully selected the market’s service providers, filtering them for dedicated expat services where possible. The clear overview not only lets users compare different plans and providers, but directs them to the most relevant pages. Trying to find the right dental plan via Google took me more than ten clicks, whereas the platform let me filter, select and sign up for the dental coverage I was looking for within three clicks.”
Is this the new way to relocate?
“Expats are increasingly expected to relocate themselves, but no, we’re definitely not a relocation service provider. The platform is complementary. The same client company that sends over a VIP CEO sends over junior profiles who don’t get the same level of support. Instead of spending unpaid time explaining the difference between Telenet and Belgacom, relocators can simply direct expats to the platform. We see Xpatris as a support tool for everyone active in the global mobility industry; it’s a daily solution that saves time and money. Time that you can spend focussing on delivering the personalised services that clients pay for.”
You’ve been live for just over a month, how has the platform been received?
“Initial response has been better than we dared hope: over 500 unique users registered during the first week, and we hadn’t even started our social media pages yet. We’ve already received the support of some really important players such as BNP Paribas, Radisson, Everis… Their HR departments are delighted with the platform. We’d love to see everyone using our platform and are very happy to collaborate. If you’d like to partner up with us, get in touch! That said, we’re not resellers: we are completely objective and every service provider is given the same amount of visibility. The platform is free for both users and providers. And because users can rate and review providers we ensure the quality and competitiveness of services offered remains high. Think of Xpatris as the Tripadvisor for expats.”
Who is behind the platform?
“Xpatris is the culmination of our own experiences as expats in many different countries and now in Belgium. We are two cofounders – Salvatore from Italy and Pari from India – who put our combined knowledge at your service. Pari used to work in Silicon Valley and combined with my experience in the financial world, it makes for a strong business and development background. Not to mention our personal experiences: we’re expats helping other expats get the most out of their new life in Belgium. We’re supported by a Buddy Community as well; all volunteers who have come to Belgium as foreign nationals. And then of course we have strategic partners such as ABRA, International House Leuven, Commissioner. Brussels and other institutions who are helping us power the platform.”
“We’ve chosen to focus on Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven and Ghent as these are the most popular Belgian destinations with expats, but we’re looking forward to going international, penetrating new markets and developing new technology.”