Moving to the island from Denmark in his early 20s, Jacob Appel is the CEO of Binderr. Established in 2020, Binderr uses innovative software in technology in its drive to help corporate service providers digitalise their business and become more efficient. As an entrepreneur with a passion for founding and building technology start-ups, prior to Binderr, Jacob co-founded and led tech start-ups such as Time to Eat, Bolt and Bolt Food in Malta and internationally.

“I came to Malta as I was tired of studying and had an opportunity to join an iGaming start-up,” says Jacob, recalling how the company went on to close after a few years. “I was left with the decision of moving back to Denmark to continue my studies or finding something else to do in Malta. I decided on the latter after a friend of mine suggested building our own start-up, and shortly after, Time to Eat was born.”

Looking back, he smiles, “it was the opportunity of working for an interesting company on a sunny island that got me here. The good people and the opportunities are what made me stay.”

Besides spending a few years in Cyprus and Tunisia, Jacob’s home for the past 15 years has been Malta. “Although I sometimes miss the Scandinavian efficiency, I’m fortunate to live in such a kindhearted country and still, to this day, consider every day a holiday,” he reveals.

From a business perspective, Jacob’s experience has also been positive, although that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement. “The digital infrastructure is not as technologically advanced as an entrepreneur would hope. Besides that, I often find it to be an advantage coming from Scandinavia. I’m never met with discrimination for being a foreigner, and have always found great support from the Maltese,” he says, adding that, if there is one thing he would change, it is the island’s ability to think bigger. “It feels like we are sometimes limited by our size, which in today’s world shouldn’t hinder us. There have been tech success stories, such as HotJar, Altaro and BMIT, but they are few, and I’m hoping we can change that over the coming years.”

Considering the main challenges and opportunities of Malta as a business destination, Jacob describes the negative repercussions of being on the grey list as a significant challenge for the island, making it a less attractive business hub. However, he attests that we have bounced back quickly.

In terms of opportunities, he continues, “digitisation and improved access to finance for start-ups are key areas that could enhance Malta’s attractiveness as a business hub. Simplifying the process of incorporating and administering companies online would promote greater entrepreneurship and make it easier for start-ups to establish themselves in Malta.”

Overall, the CEO’s outlook for local business and economic sentiment in Malta is generally positive. “The economy is growing well, and Malta has managed to maintain low inflation rates compared to other EU countries,” he notes, imparting a final word of advice for fellow expats who are exploring the possibility of investing in Malta.

“I can only recommend exploring and investing in Malta – to me, it’s the crown jewel of the Mediterranean. Embrace cultural integration; if you are investing in a foreign country like Malta, it’s important to understand cultural norms, build relationships, and establish trust with local partners and stakeholders. This will contribute to your long-term success here.”

This interview was first carried in the 2023 edition of Business Now Magazine, the sister brand to BusinessNow.mt and produced by Content House Group

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