It was a cold February evening when Paramjit Kohli first came to Bremen from India – and he loved it immediately. Read on to find out why he founded a company here and what lessons he has learned over the past year.
We find ourselves in an office at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Airport-Stadt Bremen. Three desks and a load of bags, promotional gifts and disposable plates and cutlery take up much of the 35 square metre space. We are warmly welcomed by the two-man team of New Idea Crafts GmbH. I ask managing director Paramjit Kohli how he ended up in Bremen. He smiles and tells me his story.
From India via China to Bremen
Born and raised in India, business graduate Kohli has been selling bags made by a Chinese textile company for twelve years. His work takes him to Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai, several times a year for meetings with his business partner, Jingyan Zhu. They had previously been working in international trade for some time, but the time difference was always an issue. Orders would arrive in China in the late evening or at night during the usual business hours in Europe and the US. This meant that queries were not answered until the following day, and a lot of time was lost. The solution was to have an office in Europe.
But where? It needed to be central and in a country with a stable economy, and Germany was quickly identified as the ideal location. Zhu contacted Wang Lu, who works in the overseas office of Bremeninvest in Shanghai.
Both Zhu and Kohli felt very positive about the information on Bremen that Lu provided, and decided to take a closer look at the city on the river Weser. In February 2012, Kohli and Zhu flew to Frankfurt and took the train to Bremen, where they hoped to speak to potential partners and make new business contacts.
Tired from the long journey, they both got off at Bremen’s main station and walked towards the city centre. Kohli was immediately taken. “The closer we got to the centre, the more I loved the place,” he recalls. “It was a cold February evening, there was a light dusting of snow and everything was lit up – it was simply magical.”