The creation of Eureka Box has been a long time in the making. In June 2019, just over a year ago, I was living in Hong Kong, had no intention of setting up an agency and the idea of moving to Europe was a distant prospect. Evolution of the thinking that steered the formation of Eureka Box was driven by a number of unrelated yet overlapping factors: Brexit, the erosion of freedom in Hong Kong, and Covid-19.
It will not surprise anyone who follows me on social media to hear that I am a big believer in the European Union project. Thanks to the EU and its ERASMUS scheme, I spent a year at the University of Freiburg fine-tuning my German and stayed in the city for two more years teaching English there.
The family plan was always to get to mainland Europe, if that was possible, once we felt that our time in Hong Kong was up. We initially anticipated that that would be three to five years away. After Johnson won the UK election, it became clear that we, as British subjects, had until December 2020 to get there if we wanted that to happen.
At the same time as the UK was lurching from one Brexit-induced political crisis to the next, we were witnessing the state brutally and violently quashing public dissent in Hong Kong. It was clear that the city’s freedoms - enshrined in an international treaty and meant to endure until 2047, - would be curtailed far earlier.
Planning for our move to Europe began in earnest in December, 2019. At the time, I hoped to find work with a European PR agency - with luck in a role that would allow a combination of office-based and remote work from what is now the family home in rural France.
But as I weighed up options, an appealing alternative emerged. The catalyst was a number of discussions in which it became clear that, after Brexit, Asian brands would be less willing to go through London to get work done in the EU.
Having had experience of working in European networks, I sensed that European agencies might be less well placed to capitalise on this shift than expected. During my time in Asia, I saw much higher levels of international collaboration between colleagues in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan (to name a handful) than I’d seen across Europe during my time in London (with some notable exceptions). What I’d seen in Europe was that most offices worked on a purely domestic basis (i.e. the Germans do Germany, the French do France and so on) and very few outfits operated with a truly pan-European view (again with notable exceptions).
An idea began to take shape of a post-Brexit European agency that could work at a regional level but also execute to a high standard in specific markets - an agency that could be the landing pad for midsize Asian tech brands in the EU.
Then came Covid-19. Hong Kong was one of the first territories in the world to experience the impact of the pandemic. At the end of January, the office I ran began an extended period of remote working. Virtual pitches, digital team meetings and Zoom media briefings rapidly became the norm - way before the coronavirus had even been noticed in many mainstream Western media. As the crisis unfolded, I realised that the impact would be global, that other countries in the world would respond in the same way we had in Hong Kong, and that perceptions of working remotely and of virtual, geographically-distributed teams would be forever altered.
And that’s how the ingredients of Eureka Box began to fall into place: as a virtual communications agency that could help science and technology-driven businesses to launch into and grow new markets - with a model that brought together senior, independent consultants across the globe.
What started with a focus on mainland Europe extended to encompass Asia. My experience in Hong Kong and running campaigns across the region, and the network I had built during that time, meant that I could also offer a bridge across to Asia for European clients.
I’m looking forward to learning what it is to set up and run a business, and to rolling out some outstanding client work with a bunch of smart people working in lots of interesting places.