Back in January, Juan Roig Alfonso, owner of the Valencia retail giant Mercadona, announced his plans to launch a new incubator and investment fund for Spanish startups. Over the last 5 months, the program, titled “Lanzadera”, received more than 4,200 applications from entrepreneurs and innovators across the country.
Applicants had to submit an innovative business project in order to be among the few selected to receive training, financial backing and a chance to transform their entrepreneurial dream into a reality. In addition, they will be provided a space and access to well-experienced mentors to build their own business over the next twelve months.
Where does the money come from? The Valencian businessman, holding the second largest fortune in the country, has brought together the necessary private capital to finance these new entrepreneurs. The total Lanzadera fund for 2013 is €3 million, which will be distributed in batches of up to €200,000 for companies chosen as finalists, all channeled through the group Alquería Capital, owned by Juan Roig. In order to realize the full potential of the fund, the selected startups must achieve milestones of growth and maturity. Failure to reach these key stages will eventually lead to exiting the Lanzadera program. The successful startups will repay the funds to the Lanzadera program over time with a 0% interest rate in order to invest in the next generation of Spanish entrepreneurs.
With this effort, the Mercadona President has joined the wave of entrepreneurial projects initiated by other institutions to expand its commitment to society. In his own words, “Lanzadera was born with an ambitious and exciting challenge: to create the conditions for other entrepreneurs to take the risk of implementing a sustainable model that combines economic efficiency and social balance.” Roig adds that “this project is part of our responsibility to share with others the skills, knowledge and resources that encourage other entrepreneurs take on the challenge to overcome existing difficulties and to ensure that society is proud of their entrepreneurial effort.”
On Tuesday, Roig announced the 15 winners of the 1st edition of Lanzadera:
Anna Lozabai: On Demand Online Fashion Sales: consumers are designing garments that acquire, breaking barriers and restricting sizing. Entrepreneurs: Ana Garcia Anna Lozabai.
Dentaldoctors: A dental clinic that incorporates an area of training and research for professional development. Entrepreneurs: Ana Maria Gonzalez, Lucia Garcia, Ana Noverges, Virginia Balldoví and Primitivo Roig
Time will tell us if this latest example of corporate altruism is making an sustainable impact, but the opportunity exists for those entrepreneurs brave enough to create something new. According to Roig, “if we can develop great entrepreneurs, then the crisis in Spain is over.”