As the biggest startup event in Spain closed their doors this year, a total of 19,523 attendants were counted, which means the fastest growing tech event in Europe, grew more than 60% from last year’s event.
What started as a small local event with a couple of thousand Spaniards, is now turning into something global, and that’s exciting.
Trade show or tech show
As 4YFN continues to grow fast, looking at current growth levels, and Barcelona focuses heavily on merging corporate interests and local startups, it’s without doubt that 4YFN 2017 was more corporate, than earlier years.
Many will probably think of the word corporate as something negative or contradictory to the world of young startups, but this is a clear strategy by 4YFN as they enter their fourth year of stimulating Spanish (and international) tech. Aleix Valls, Director of 4YFN, told startup builder itnig in an interview only a couple of months ago, that this year’s edition would be much more focused on bringing corporates and startups together.
And as big corporations are boosting their investments in young tech companies, 4YFN is starting to look more like a trade show than a tech event. If you went to both the Mobile World Congress and 4YFN, it’s clear that soon only the font and location will separate the two events, as corporate sponsors such as Nestle and SEAT had a large presence with several exhibition areas.
According to numbers provided by the MWC, over 47% of the attendees were coming from the Mobile World Congress, meaning mostly an older demographic dressed in suits, and, in some cases, deep pockets. However, in the end it’s not about building the coolest brand, it’s about building great businesses, and here is where corporates can play a key role.
International, but still very local
Even though 44 countries were represented at this year’s event, the vast majority of companies and startups featured at 4YFN 2017 were Spanish. To be more specific, out of 535 startups, 264 were Spanish. Other countries like Korea (43), the UK (34), Germany (23) and the US (29) were also well-represented. While about half of the startups were from Spain, 4YFN claims that over 70% of attendees were coming from abroad.
As the Spanish startup community is growing faster than ever, having everyone together in one location once a year, should only strengthen the national tech ecosystem. Furthermore, the 4YFN brand has already expanded into Asia with their second event in Shanghai taking place in June, and they recently announced their intentions to launch a San Fransisco event this fall.
With the brand itself expanding worldwide, it should create inroads and new channels for fostering innovation across international borders. Meanwhile in Barcelona, 4YFN officials confirmed more than 700 hundred international investors attended this year’s event, which backs up the theory that more investors from abroad are discovering Spanish tech companies. It also means we’ll have more rising startups to feature on Barcinno in the months and years to come.
Another highlight from this years 4YFN was the growing number of women attending. This year, a record number of 37% were women, marking a 7 percent increase from 2016. This was a deliberate strategy from the organizers, as there were more keynotes, panels and hackathons focused on diversity in the tech sector.
The most exciting was perhaps Hack_D_Gap, where six companies competed to create innovative solutions, products or services that drive gender diversity and gender equality in the tech industry. The winner was a local startup called TeamEQ, a new online management tool that measures motivation, effectiveness, and the satisfaction of your team all in real-time.
Aside from a few growing pains, 4YFN has improved every year. There’s always a danger of growing too big too fast, but hopefully this is something the GSMA and Mobile World Capital Barcelona teams are keeping in mind. After attending all of the events from its humble beginnings 4 years ago to its more recent international ambitions, we have faith that 4 Years From Now will continue to provide value for the Spanish and global startup community.