SAHARA CEO and co-founder Sigurdur “Siggi” Svansson shares why he decided to expand to Orlando and how the company has been adapting to the move.
Orlando has become a hotbed for foreign companies looking to expand into the U.S. market. SAHARA, a full-stack digital marketing agency recently made the decision to expand from Iceland to the U.S. in September of 2022. Founded in 2009, SAHARA has built an international reputation for helping clients large and small develop customer-centric, cost-effective strategies that strengthen the connections between brand and audience.
As CEO and co-founder of the forward-thinking agency, Sigurdur “Siggi” Svansson understands the importance of staying up to date with the latest trends and techniques in digital marketing. As artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies play an increasingly prominent role in our lives, SAHARA is committed to staying ahead of the curve by investing in the latest tools and platforms to help its clients succeed.
We caught up with Siggi to discuss why he decided to expand to Orlando and how the company has been adapting to the move.
What is your relationship to Orlando?
My in-laws have a house here in Orlando and it became a destination for our family vacations due to the climate. Our first vacation was in 2018 and that lined up well with our plans to expand into larger markets. Most Icelandic companies expand to the European and Scandanavian markets but we decided to go our own way and our U.S. expansion has proven to be a success.
What other regions did you consider after deciding on a U.S. expansion? Was Orlando always your top choice?
There were a couple of options that we looked into when deciding to expand, however, Orlando was our top pick from the start. Through advice from friends who had made similar moves we found our three key indicators that went into the decision.
We needed a location with a large, diverse and highly skilled talent pool with a variety of experience in different social media platforms as well as accessibility to and from Iceland and cost efficiency to stay within budget.Sigurdur “Siggi” Svansson, CEO & Co-Founder of SAHARA
Many foreign countries have been relocating to Orlando, can you discuss your goals in making this decision and your plan in establishing a global office here?
In the beginning, we focused on recreating the culture we had in our Icelandic office, hiring based on work ethic, personality and experience. We exceeded all expectations and our Orlando and Icelandic teams have integrated quickly to increase our capabilities as a company. So far, we have received great feedback and have seen many opportunities for further growth due to our decision to move here.
Why did you decide that this was the best place for expansion?
A couple of different factors went into the decision to make Orlando the home of our Global office. The region has a strong Icelandic community, which was a benefit to us on a personal level. Excellent flight options through the Orlando International Airport allow for direct flights to Iceland, across the U.S. and to wherever our clients are across the globe. Orlando’s higher learning institutions provide a steady stream of talent that the agency can tap into as we continue to build out our team of experts. Additionally, the city’s vibrant tech scene and commitment to innovation make it an ideal place for SAHARA to test out new ideas and approaches to digital marketing.
You have now been in Orlando for over a year; have you adapted to the region and has it met your expectations going in?
In a word, yes. My family relocated in January of 2022 and we have been operating out of the Orlando office since February of 2022. The family has integrated well within the community and we are excited to continue exploring the region. The school system has been a positive influence on my children as they have quickly picked up English from their Kindergarten class. For myself, I have enjoyed the diverse cultural ecosystem in Orlando that has allowed me to foster relationships and learn from people of many cultural backgrounds. The agency as a whole has been able to benefit from this flow of information as it is essential to our success on a global stage.
How has this move affected your business outlook?
The agency is poised for growth and success in the years to come. In focusing on small and medium sized companies (around 1-150 employees), we have found a hidden gem in offering price-friendly packages for small companies that don’t have the budget to hire a larger agency or employee, although we work with some of the largest companies in the world like Deloitte, RE/MAX and Under Armor in Icelandic markets. The move to Orlando has provided opportunities to connect with local businesses such as Premier Notary and Fingerprinting and Supreme Hair Studio for digital marketing. Overall, SAHARA is well-positioned to take advantage of the many opportunities in the digital marketing space.
Our Orlando location allows us to expand our focus to global marketing, commit to staying on top of the latest trends and technologies, and hire a team of experts who are passionate about helping clients succeed.Sigurdur “Siggi” Svansson, CEO & Co-Founder of SAHARA