At one time, technology startups were the realm of male geeks. This is, thankfully, changing, with more and more startups being launched by women – as is certainly the case in Spain.
A recent article by Forbes has claimed that tech-based startups offer far better work environments for women, as opposed to traditional companies. Additionally, many commentators believe that women can run start-ups in a better way than many of their competing male entrepreneurs. According to the article ‘How to combat the all-male start-up!‘ there are 3 main reasons why startups that involve women fare better – they are better at bootstrapping, they fail less often, and gender diversity improves long-term rewards. It’s certainly the case that a lot of startups have been launched in Spain by women, many of them earning international praise, and I will mention a few of them here.
It’s often been said in the past that it’s harder for a woman to make it as an entrepreneur, and indeed the statistics often bear this out. I spoke to a few female entrepreneurs to ask their opinion, and despite the challenges, starting a business in Spain was still recommended. Beatriz Revilla, the founder of Mundo Spanish (a site that aims to bring together Spanish entrepreneurs all over the world) told me: “I can always recommend it if the entrepreneur has time, money and above all, a desire to succeed. It requires sacrifices but is very rewarding when you reach and surpass milestones.” Rosa Fernández-Velilla, the founder of Gisela.com said: “The creation of a new business is an equal challenge regardless of sex. The important thing is the desire to advance, a clear vision of the destination, and lots of work and dedication.”
With such drive and positivity, we should therefore not be surprised that women are launching startups in Spain, and with many going on to have international success. One of these such founders is Elisa Ibáñez Herrero, who as the CEO of Andanta won an international prize for her startup. Andanta’s main product is a Virtual Assistant which is installed on a client’s website and is able to simulate a conversation by responding to questions written by the user.
This not just an odd exception either – women seem just as enthusiastic as their male counterparts in Spain in getting a startup underway:“Ellas 2.0 Startup Weekend Madrid, the international event to build Internet startups in 54 hours, imported by Ellas 2.0 to promote entrepreneurship among women, was held last weekend in “Madrid On Rails”. 85 professionals (programmers, marketing, business, designers, etc.) attended and 36 were women. The participants presented 33 business ideas and 10 attracted enough participants to build a team to work on the project along the weekend and present to the Investor table on Sunday night.”
Pretty impressive, don’t you think?
It’s certainly the case that Spanish entrepreneurs (both male and female) would like to see changes in the way the government deals with this sector. Rosa at Gisela would like to see two main changes – “simplification of the bureaucracy when starting a business, and better financial support”. Beatriz at MundoSpanish tells us that she’d like to see a change in “the compliance and acceleration of the aid provided to entrepreneurs. It is not about creating new lines, but to accelerate existing ones (in the Madrid area it takes about two years in granting aid to the small business … so in many cases become obsolete). It is also very necessary to reduce the national insurance payments in the first two years, also make the recruitment of staff more flexible in the initial phase and create training course options that are very pragmatic and oriented towards real business. The advice portals provided, however, are good.”
Of course, with the likely event of a new government in Spain this November, these changes may come to pass. But it’s the drive, ingenuity and hard work of the entrepreneurs concerned, that will ultimately determine the success of these startups, whether they are male- or female- managed.
I’ve only had time to skim the surface of the start-up scene involving women in Spain, and I’m positive we will see many successful and innovative companies established in the coming months and years. For further updates (if you speak Spanish) then Ellas2.org is worth bookmarking, as indeed is mujeres consejeras a site run by women, including the serial entrepreneur Elena Gómez Pozuelo. The future looks bright!
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