It’s easy to assume that Spanish startups come from either Madrid or Barcelona. Barely a day goes by without hearing of new web ventures or funding rounds taking place in those magnificent cities. They each even have websites devoted to their new ventures, too; for example, TechBarcelona covers startups born in Barcelona, and Chamberi Valley is an attempt to build an eco-system for startups, similar to Silicon Valley, in Madrid.
However, startup mania is taking off in other parts of Spain too. The new social meeting group for web and mobile developers, Betabeers, is now arranging meetups and presentations in provincial cities such as Murcia, Valencia and Bilbao – and they even plan to host meetings in South America, too. New online ventures in Spanish provinces already have role models in this sector, and we’ve spoken to a few of them to see the pros and cons of launching a startup outside of the big two.
One such example is Moodyo, a social shopping venture that fully encompasses the social aspect of Web 2.0, which was launched from the town of Dos Hermanas near the southern city of Sevilla (Update – February 2023: The startup seems to be no longer in business under this website and we therefore deactivated the link). Their founder, Javier Padilla, told me that their location can actually be an advantage, in that they can concentrate on their work without some of the big city distractions and holdups. They have a flexible attitude too, as to where their developers work – if one day someone feels they are better working from home, then no problem as the internet means co-workers can easily keep in contact. Moodyo is looking forward to the challenges of 2012 and will be concentrating on making their user experience perfect. Javier believes that users aren’t interested in what earnings the startup has, their head office location, or what funding round they’ve pulled off – all the users want (in Moodyo’s case) is the best way to purchase their desired item, including getting feedback from other online shoppers. And to achieve this, Moodyo are striving to provide the best social eCommerce experience; the location of their developers doesn’t matter one iota, the end product is what counts.
Isabel Liébana at Ideateca, a company from Bilbao that develops games and applications for smartphones and tablets, also disputes that it’s a handicap to be based away from Madrid or Barcelona (Update – February 2023: The startup seems to be no longer in business under this website and we therefore deactivated the link). She states “It is true that Madrid and Barcelona host major events and initiatives related to entrepreneurship, but Bilbao is becoming an important source of startups, primarily in the technology sector. Several public and private stakeholders have begun to promote entrepreneurship in the Basque country and we from Ideateca are also making a contribution.” Indeed Ideateca has plans to act as an accelerator in 2012, and aims to promote entrepreneurship and help innovative and technological projects. Meanwhile, they continue to be a leading player in their field and are concentrating on strengthening their HTML5 capabilities. As is the case with other IT companies, not all of their staff have to work in the Bilbao office. Again, Isabel told me: “Most Ideateca workers work in the office, but there are cases in which work is combined with home working. In fact, right now although most of the team is in Bilbao, our CEO works in San Francisco, and we also have partners who work from Barcelona or Thailand.”
Sevilla and Bilbao are actually two big centres for commerce, and it’s probably not too surprising to see startups launching from there, but it seems nowhere is immune to the urge to start a world-beating project. Albacete, in Castilla-La Mancha, is perhaps better known as an old time producer of knives and daggers, but is now the seat of Comunicasoft, an innovative supplier of geo-statistical and business analysis software. Their CEO, Jose Miguel Lozano, told me they have big plans for 2012: “This year we will launch the ComunicaSoft Geostatistical Viewer. It is a statistical analysis tool supported by Bing Maps and Google Earth that allows you to obtain an overview of statistical work. It is free and can be downloaded directly from the web. It is worth trying out – it’s a different approach to work. This year we want to bring it to universities, research centers and nonprofit entities to develop projects on this platform.” Jose Miguel acknowledges that there are disadvantages in not being in a major centre: “To contact customers to close deals, to seek investment, etc. you always have to travel.” Yet he too stresses that there are advantages to their location: “The most important are local government subsidies. In small provinces, municipalities, unions and organizations tend to offer more help and support to entrepreneurs. You are often given space with incubators, counseling, help with government procedures, etc.” And again, as with many IT companies, their staff often work away from the office and keep in contact via Skype, email, mobile etc.
Here we’ve given a brief overview of three startup companies in Spain that are not located in the two big metropolises. Other centres where you will find startup ventures include Valencia, Murcia, Malaga, Mallorca and Galicia, among others. What is plain to see is that the internet makes it a lot easier to be located in a provincial location, yet still have access to national and even world markets. The three companies we’ve featured here all aim for an international audience.
While it seems that the majority of startups in Spain will come from the two big cities, where major contacts and funding deals are made, it’s clear that we will see more promising launches, both on a national and on an international scale, coming from provincial centres.
We also wrote an article last year on the likelihood of there being an explosion of Spanish startups in 2012. It certainly feels that way so far, and we have trouble keeping up with entries in our startup directory. I fully expect there to be many ventures launched, and succeeding, from provincial parts of Spain, even if the majority still come from Barcelona and Madrid. More on this “explosion” in future articles here on EU-Startups!
By the way: You can find out about other interesting startups from Spain in this list.
[…] hecho, algunos van más allá e incluso destacan que ni siquiera hace falta estar en las principales ciudades de España (Madrid o Barcelona, […]
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