For some young startups, the opportunity to join a leading, promising accelerator that will help get their ideas off the ground and achieve our goals is a dream come true. I wrote an article for Barcinno a few months back describing the benefits of choosing Barcelona as a base for your startup, and mentioned some of the great accelerators in the Barcelona startup ecosystem. For our company, ValorTop, our initial goal was to join a prestigious Spanish startup accelerator, and even better if it was in Barcelona as well.
While I certainly still agree with how amazing Barcelona is for startups, things have taken a different path for us at the present moment. We have applied and have been selected to be join the 2015 class at Lanzadera, one of Spain’s leading startup accelerators and based in Valencia. This is one of the most competitive, reputable accelerators in the country and was founded by Juan Roig, the man behind the success of Mercadona. He is the one that brought Mercadona to its modern glory, which now boasts 1,540 stores throughout the country and owns 14,4% market share of Spain’s food industry. Pretty remarkable.
So, as you can guess, we have recently moved the company and team to Valencia. After a month of living here so far, the experience has been nothing short of fantastic both in terms of Lanzadera and the city itself. What’s more, we are actually the first team in all 3 generations of the accelerator to have an international founding team. We are one Dutchman, one Japanese and two Spaniards. Yes, I agree with you; we are an unexpected combination of founders! This article aims to share with you our experience so far of being accepted into a Spanish accelerator.
Lanzadera was founded in 2013 based on a philanthropical goal that Juan Roig wanted to achieve; to give back to the Spanish community through stimulating jobs, wealth and value. What better way for him to start this than in his home town of Valencia.
What differentiates Lanzadera from other Spanish startup accelerators is that Juan Roig, through Lanzadera, offers up to 200.000 euros in a loan, no equity, with flexible repayment terms. The interest is EURIBOR + 0%, without commission and personal guarantees. I have no doubt that a large portion of you are liking the sound of this.
Through the program, Lanzadera provides insight into Juan Roig’s ‘Modelo de Calidad Total’ that lead Mercadona to success. What a privilege. We team receive multiple courses on this model, teaching us how to apply it to our own. There are also other training courses taking place on a weekly basis, from industry experts. This is all done very professionally, and I have found great value in each of them.
What I also find a key advantage is that each team is assigned a Project Director, which is your go-to person regarding any doubts, feedback, and thoughts that you may have about the startup. They are by your side and their primary goal, including the rest of Lanzadera’s staff, is to help us.
What it’s like to be an international team in a Spanish accelerator?
It is a great feeling to be the first international team to have been chosen to be part of Lanzadera. The entire program is in Spanish, so it is an excellent environment to improve our language skills. We already spoke Spanish well before coming to Spain, but if we could improve our fluency anywhere, this is the place to get all the business, technical lingo down. The Lanzadera team is also very patient with us and make sure that we feel comfortable at all times.
Working alongside with other top-notch Spanish entrepreneurs has also given us a better insight into the working culture, target market, and overall business process in Spain. On more than one occasion we have sought help from our fellow teams, and the results have been great. Furthermore, we hope that we can also share our experiences and ideas to the teams looking to internationalise. It’s a melting pot of collaborations.
What flourishes and encourages this is the open-office layout that Lanzadera has organised. Startups are literally working side-by-side, ensuring that networking becomes a daily occurrence. This has made it even more comfortable for us internationals to communicate with other Spanish teams. A wonderful, un-intimidating environment to be in.
Startup Life in Valencia:
After having lived in both Madrid and Barcelona before, two of my favourite cities in Spain, I find Valencia to be a wonderful mix of both. It has a large Ciutat Vella area with the chic, historical buildings just like Madrid, and has a long, beautiful beach just like Barcelona. Like both cities it is very warm, but an air conditioner will do the trick 😉
Personally, I find Valencia a comfortable combination of the two cities; not too big, not too small. So far the residents here have also been extremely friendly and helpful, giving it a lovely ‘small-town’ feel to it that I couldn’t find in Madrid nor Barcelona.
Living costs are also much lower than in Madrid and Barcelona, mainly because of the rent. Right now we share a 70m2, renovated apartment for 600 euros a month in the centre of Valencia, which would cost almost double in the other two cities. And off course, the cherry on top is that Valencia has so much delicious food and drinks to offer, at a very, very affordable price. The best way to spend the weekend recharging your batteries before another hard week of work.
I’m sure you can tell that we’re very content to have been selected by Lanzadera. It’s so far proven to be an excellent accelerator, and we are very excited about what the coming months will bring. Moreover, it’s a privilege to be part of a greater purpose that Lanzadera is trying to achieve through it’s acceleration program; to give back to the Spanish community.
If you have a business model in which your target market (or at least a huge part of it) is Spanish-speaking, I truly recommend applying to a Spanish startup accelerator, especially Lanzadera. Of course there are many other prestigious accelerators such as Wayra and SeedRocket, but I have found Lanzadera to be unique in providing both remarkable funding terms and a philanthropical goal.
We will keep you updated with our experience and progress within the program. What I can promise is that at ValorTop we are going to keep working extremely hard to make it through the entire program, and through to Demo Day in March.
This article was a guest post by Emma Reynolds, of ValorTop, a multinational startup that was founded in Denmark, and any opinions shared do not necessarily reflect those of Barcinno.