Last Month in Spain – April

These series of posts are a compilation of what has happened in the spanish startupsphere within and outside our borders. As part of our efforts to promote Startup Spain movement, we want to increase the exposure of the our startup ecosystem. If you want to contribute, please do not hesitate to ping us on Twitter @startspain with any news you want us to feature here. Thank You!

If you want to learn more about what has happened lately in Spain, you can read last month’s post HERE.

For most people, April in Spain has been mainly famous for its concerning news regarding its national public debt risk premium, the “rapid” implementation of several austerity measures by the central government and the TWO different hunting accidents in TWO different occasions by TWO different members of the Royal Family (One of them, being the King of Spain himself). Yet, in the startupsphere, we don’t have much time for supra-national economical mumbo jumbo, political smoke-screens or outrageous (and quite karmic) gossip about our Royal Family. We have more important things to do.

In some fashion all this news affects us, as it does every other citizen of this country. However, industry-wise, the side-effects of all of it (except the royal family accidents) reinforce the belief that an economic reform is needed in Spain. This means, moving away from the current high dependence on construction, real estate and tourism towards more high growth, scalable and non-physical infrastructure dependent industries such as Internet startups.

Let us reflect on this for a second and do some theoretical math with the data available to us on “the interwebz”:

Highest unemployment rate in the last 18 years (close to 25% in total; 50%+ for university graduates) +

Ranked 21st in the world production of talent +

Only 1 euro of VC money per capita vs. over 70 dollars per capita in the USA +

Central government has reduced by 48,8% the budget for grants and public aid for entrepreneurs +

Credit crunch and the dire straits of local banking system further limiting access to debt financing +

Minimum wages frozen at 641.40 euros per month +

Average annual net earnings per capita 12.8% lower than average of the EU27 (and 24.6% lower than EU15)

Add up all these facts in you head and what do you get?

Well, one could see the glass as half-empty: Potential brain drain of startups and talent, market with deteriorated consumption, etc. Looking at it this way, betting on Spain can look like betting on a lame horse. However, risk-averse people that hold this short-sighted view are completely forgetting the number #1 principle of trading: “Buy Low, Sell High”.

Looking at it with a “dare to be great mentality” and seeing the glass as half-full, this situation is pure eye-candy to local & foreign investors, great entrepreneurs and ambitious professionals. These are the kind of times in which fortunes can be made, glory achieved and risk is at its lowest cost of opportunity.

In the end, for foreign and new-coming entrepreneurs and investors it is all about 4 simple factors:

  • Lots of talent: Millions of hungry and highly talented individuals are either looking desperately for a job or creating their own companies / startups
  • Affordable talent: Salaries are far more affordable than those in most of Europe
  • Low barriers to entry and compete: Foreign and new local investors entering this market will find very few competitors and much lower economical barriers of entry in terms of fund-sizes and deal-sizes
  • High bargaining power: Due to the current credit crunch, local startups only remaining sources to keep their projects alive and kicking here are bootstrapping or seeking Angel or VC investments

It’s a dream come true!

You don’t believe me? Think I am being delusional? Well, let me illustrate this to you with some examples and actual numbers.

We started this month learning from WebCapitalRiesgo that investment in local VC funds decreased by 14% in 2011. However, this didn’t translated in a 14% decrease of the investment activity in startups.

In fact, it has been a quite active year: WebCapitalRiesgo has registered over 576 operations at a VC fund level in 2011, 84% of those below the EUR 500 k mark, 47% involved money coming from ENISA or CDTI (the two largest investment companies from the public sector) and only 10% of all the money invested came from foreign VC funds. Additionally, the investment through registered vehicles at a Business Angel level has duplicated over the last year reaching EUR 7,6 M. Although these figures are still lightyears away from Silicon Valley’s or Israel’s, if we take into account that the vast majority business angel activity in Spain does not come from “accredited investors” (it is normally done as a personal level and there is no real specialized fiscal regulation for it), then we can assume this figure to be actually much higher.

We are still a small startup market in more than one sense, but it is a exponentially growing market in many others and “where there’s growth, there’s opportunity”.

As you will see in the summary below, many famous and infamous successful international investors are starting to see these trends and seize the obvious opportunity to become more actively involved in Europe’s southwestern peninsula, including Silicon Valley’s Jeff Clavier (Softtech VC founder and Techstars Mentor), German startup clone masters The Samwer Brothers and UK’s Venturepreneur, LastMinute and PROfounders Capital co-founder: Brent Hoberman.

Ok José, this is all very nice (and quite opinionated) but enough chit-chat. Give us the news!

Alright then.

WILKOMMEN, BIENVENUE, WELCOME,… ¡BIENVENIDOS!

As addressed before, more and more tech startups and entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity to establish operations in our country. In our last post we welcomed LinkedIn and AirBnB to our country. This month, risking criticism by most of the global startupsphere, we would like to welcome the (in)famous Samwer brothers, who apparently are setting up a subsidiary of their incubator (Rocket Internet) in Spain.

*** SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: This last April, we graduated our 6th batch of entrepreneurs from our Tetuan Valley Startup School. Learn more about them by clicking on the picture!

Secondly, we would also like to welcome the new initiatives that have arrived to our ecosystem looking to contribute to empowering entrepreneurship (and some that have returned). This month clearly has been a great month for social entrepreneurship with the launch of 2 initiatives:

Notwithstanding, this is far from being all of the newcomers and ecosystem-builders. On the investment side, our friend Luis Mateos Keim is also launching soon Kiubick, a new kind of investment fund (we can’t wait to tell you more about it next month after its official launch). Additionally, on the program-side we would like to welcome back the Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s  TR35 contest to look for the best Spanish entrepreneurs under 35 years old.

Finally, we would like to welcome “The Future”, because this month we not only have learnt that Spaniards already download 1.4 million mobile apps per day but also we have gladly found out that national online advertising spending is expected to surpass offline advertising by the end of this year. The future is nigh.

We are living exciting times and the Spanish tech-revolution seems to be just one-click away!

CONGRATULATIONS AND EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENTS

Several investors and startups deserve special mention for their achievements during April.

On the money-side, for example, Mallorca’s super-active accelerator Mola.com announced an agreement with some of Spain’s top VC funds including Active Venture Partners, Bonsai Venture Capital and Cabiedes & Partners to share their dealflow and gain access to follow-up rounds for their portfolio startups. On a similar note, Spanish daily deal and e-commerce platform Offerum has formalized an offer to invest up to EUR 150 K in the best e-commerce startup that graduates from SeedRocket´s startup program.

On the entrepreneurial-side, this has been a month flooded with great news. To name a few, both e-marketing services startup Antevenio and software download platform Softonic have reported profit growths in 2011 of 37% and 65%, respectively, over 2010′s figures (take that crisis!), and Tetuan Valley Alumni and bootstrapping masters SpartanBits have announced they are close to the 10 million downloads mark for their famous GoChat! application (named one of the best 500 apps for 2012 by The Sunday Times, by the way).

Special mention goes to InToTally, Spanish startup that has recently opened offices in Palo Alto, for signing a partnership and investment agreement with Vodafone to implement their software on their existing CDMA and UMTS/HSPA networks worldwide souping up to 40% more capacity. A great breakthrough for the global communications industry that’s 100% made in Spain.

… AND WHAT ABOUT FUNDING ROUNDS, MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS AND SO ON?

Well, we already covered a bit about the most exciting deals and M&A operations that happened at the beginning of April in last month’s post as well as a bit about the InToTally’s deal with Vodafone Ventures. The amount wasn’t disclosed, but we’ve heard average deal size of the Big V’s corporate venture capital arm normally ranges between 2 and 10 million euros.

Below the 1 million euros mark, we’ve had a lot of interesting deals. Among the most-talked about ones, Bananity, raised a EUR 400K round from Spanish celebrities like TV Talk-Show host Andreu Buenafuente and former Minister Cristina Garmendia. The company, a recommendation platform based on what its users love and hate, is founded by local startup boy-wonder, Pau Garcia-Milà, the co-founder of open source cloud desktop startup eyeOS.

Other interesting deals in this price range are the EUR 350 K round by Cabiedes & Partners and Caixa Capital Risc for the office supply and furniture e-commerce DeskIdea and the close to EUR 1 million round covered by Axon Capital for the high-definition video streaming service from NicePeopleAtWork.

From the deals with more than 6 figures on the term sheet, there are certainly 4 that deserve special attention:

  • First, the EUR 1 million round raised (over 50% from public sector financing) by Molino de Ideas, a natural language processing solutions company.
  • Secondly, we have the EUR 3.5 million round of investment in Mobile Advertising Network startup TapTap Networks led by Spain’s largest venture capital firm Nauta Capital.
  • In third place, as the colorful deal of the month, FC Barcelona’s Gerard Piqué, along with his girlfriend, Colombian popstar Shakira, and worldwide stars Jay-Z and Will Smith have all participated in the $6 million round for the American “Instagram for Video” startup Viddy.
  • Finally, last but not least, we have the most talked about deal of the month: The 2.5 million dollar round raised by a Spanish startup that launched only 6 months ago. Blink Booking, the last minute deal booking mobile application  for premium hotels in Spain, Italy, Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Portugal and Germany. The round was flooded among others with world-class investors such as Jeff Clavier from Softtech VC and UK’s DN Capital, successful entrepreneurs turned investors like LastMinute.com’s  Brent Hoberman (via his VC firm  PROfounders Capital) or Tuenti‘s Adeyemi Ajao and top-executives like former CEO of American Express Travel, Charles Petruccelli or current Directo of Product Development for Telefónica Digital, Carlos Domingo.

As other note-worthy news, we would like to highlight the 2 deals that our good friends from Vitamina K  have completed this month with the female fashionista community Chicisimo and the (quite stealthy) ”video hypertext” startup TheMadVideoInc. both for undisclosed amounts.

EPITAPH OF AN EXTREMELY LONG POST

Believe it or not, this is a summary of what has happened in our ecosystem over the last month. I cannot get tired from saying it:

Amazing things are happening in Spain and they are happening fast. So, don’t you dare say later we didn’t tell you soon enough!

Thanks for reading!

If you want to know all about these great spanish entrepreneurs and want to be updated on the evolution of the Spanish startup ecosystem, you can Follow us on Twitter @StartSpainLike us on Facebook and/or Subscribe to our NewsLetter

If you feel that we have left out of this update any important deal that is worth mentioning or you have any feedback regarding these series of blogposts, please let us know in the comments section below. We would gladly update the post with your inputs as fast as we can.

Stay tuned for next month’s update!

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3 Comments
  1. I agree, fantastic series, and sorely needed as we are bombarded with repeated bad news in other quarters. The people you cover are those who are going to restore the Spanish economy, I’m sure of it.

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