A Founder’s Story: What Inspired Expandopedia

Global Expansion
September 14, 2020 3 Minute Read

Founder and CEO Rick Hammell shares the family history of entrepreneurship that inspired him, the lessons that led to the creation of Expandopedia, and the vision he has for its future.

Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My family’s history is filled with business owners, starting with my great-great-grandfather, who owned a general store, a funeral home and a few other small businesses. Then there was my father, who started a business when he was 20 years old. 

Their backgrounds inspired me and in the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to create something original to follow in their footsteps. That’s where Elements Global Services and Expandopedia enter. 

Elements Global Services was born after years working as Vice President of HR & Recruitment in the government contracting sector. I led recruitment, onboarding, and the strategy for People and Culture. In support of one of our contracts, we used a Global Professional Employer Organization (PEO) to support the company’s expansion but encountered dozens of issues along the way. 

I saw that the business model had potential but felt it could be greatly enhanced with a direct model, rather than relying on third parties and sourcing in the existing approach. That was the Ah-ha moment! I developed the concept and spent much of my own money and many hours working at my dining room table to build a dream. 

There was real sacrifice to ensure the business succeeded, and our competitive edge came from a combination of that determination, the experience I already had taking a company global, and the loyal clients with whom I had built trustworthy relationships. 

We’ve since grown tremendously and focused on three key missions—to provide an excellent customer experience, to simplify global expansion, and to continue revolutionizing the HR and Employer of Record (EOR) industries with innovative technology platforms like ApprovPay, which streamlines global payroll, and now, Expandopedia.  

Expandopedia was a natural result of everything we learned while building our core business. When Elements was establishing legal entities across the world to ensure compliance with local rules and regulations, we discovered there wasn’t a single platform that allowed us to source all the information we needed. 

Originally, it was intended to be an internal platform, but we quickly realized we could help other companies avoid the pain and issues we encountered when expanding globally. Like Elements, I spotted a gap in the marketplace, as a consumer, and knew what we had—knowledge, and knowledge is a powerful tool. We gained insights from the cuts, scrapes and bruises we earned while doing business globally. We had the employment agreements, the handbooks, the termination documents, the tax rules and regulations—the next logical step was to share it. All of it—to continue our mission of global expansion simplified.  

Ultimately, what we’re striving for in both our EOR services and Expandopedia is to provide a strong foundation for our clients as they invest globally. A quick look at the survivors of the 2008 economic and financial crisis shows one common thread—they were global. They diversified their revenues and avoided dependence on one single economy. Expandopedia is simply the latest in our efforts to simplify global expansion and give companies all the business intelligence they need to be successful, all based on our own experience.  

Beyond simplifying the tactical process of global expansion, Expandopedia is a driver of our larger purpose to break down the barriers that keep companies from transcending borders and taking on a sense of global responsibility. When organizations do that, they derive meaning from their ability to contribute to the growth of local economies.  

We’ve enjoyed ups and downs along the way. As a business owner, I’ve had a crash course in learning how to be a CEO, going global and managing a truly global organization. Through the growth of the company, I’ve made mistakes; however, we’ve always bounced back and shown resilience in our overall approach. This is in no small part due to our inspirational team. 

If you asked me what I’m most proud of, it would be that—our diverse team of individuals who bring passion and integrity to everything they do. I’m happy that we also help other companies achieve that same level of inclusivity and connect them to new cultures they might not otherwise have been exposed to.  

Whenever I interview a candidate, I stress the fact that we are revolutionary. We were the first with the direct model, the first to coin the term “Employer of Record/EOR,” and we’re always seeking new ways to create game-changing products like Expandopedia. Our employees understand that being revolutionary may be challenging, but the reward is 100% worth it.

So, to circle back to the start—my upbringing. I was always told that we must work twice as hard to receive the same. That’s how I run the company. We always aim to be twice as good and constantly self-improve. In the future, I see Expandopedia growing to be agile in the marketplace and punching through the industry’s glass ceiling. Beyond that? Time will tell. At a minimum, I hope to inspire success in others. 

About Expandopedia:

Expandopedia is a global compliance and business intelligence platform designed for HR professionals and business strategists.

Headquartered in Chicago, Expandopedia is powered by a global network of HR & Legal professionals to provide the intelligence that businesses need to thrive and remain compliant when running a multinational business.

Expandopedia provides all the knowledge and insights to successfully onboard, retain and offboard employees as well as data-driven analysis to empower strategic decision making.


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