5 Reasons WHY Tech Startups Should Choose Barcelona For Their Headquarters
Many factors go into consideration when a startup chooses its working location; type of product, target market, available resources and the list goes on. These factors are exclusive to each startup and every renown startup-hub, such as London and Berlin, have a unique combination of what they have to offer. So, among the many promising cities, where should a startup go?
Spain’s economic crisis over the last few years and absence of entrepreneurial movements had so far been preventing startups from locating there. This is definitely the case for us, ValorTop, a Spanish comparison site helping users find the best tech products at the best prices, whether it be for “mejor antivirus” or “moviles baratos”). Despite wanting to move closer to our Spanish-speaking target market, it has been difficult to relocate and operate there mainly due to the lack of economic security and entrepreneurial support.
However, Spain, specifically Barcelona, has lately been attracting promising startups and sharp-minded entrepreneurs from across the globe. Barcelona is not only one of the most charming mediterranean cities thanks to the sun and tapas, but also offers plenty of opportunities that should not be overlooked. It is, more and more, considered to have enormous potential to become a world-class innovation hub for tech startups. Did you know that multi-million euro successes including Softonic and eDreams began there? In this article we’ll look at 5 of the main reasons why tech startups should choose Barcelona.
The city is outrageously attractive
When it comes to Barcelona, it is first of all essential to mention the incomparable attraction as a Southern Mediterranean city. In fact, it attracts hundreds and thousands of travellers year on year, many of which decide to stay. The mild climate, beautiful coastline, small and winding streets, charming architecture that takes you back in time, delicious and affordable food…It is vibrant, elegant, and never fails to entertain; a perfect place for entrepreneurs to recharge their batteries.
On top of this, some of the world’s top ranked business (IESE, ESADE) and design (IED, BAU) schools are located there, resulting in many sharp-minded individuals to gather from all over the world. For an upcoming tech startup, this proves to be a perfect pool of both local and international talent. Moreover, the city is easily accessible via the international airport and train stations, and as a port city, transporting goods won’t be difficult for those startups with manufactured goods. All in all, combined with the amazing lifestyle, the city’s attraction creates an ecosystem that any entrepreneur can really benefit from.
Barcelona is home to over 10 leading accelerators. The top 4 are:
Wayra is Telefónica’s tech startup accelerator that operate in both Spain and Latin America. With the strong financial backing of Telefónica, they offer incomparable support and mentorship. As they operate across continents, their connections and networks span the globe; opportunities to meet the right partner, investor or mentor are abundant. Their programs usually last between 6 to 12 months, and they can offer up to $50K. They make sure that the office spaces are top-notch, so that as an early-stage entrepreneur, you already feel like success is within reach.
Startupbootcamp Internet of Things & Data is a leading global accelerator focusing on startups that provide solutions that use data to create smarter, customised services for both customers and businesses. Offering up to €15K per startup, through Startupbootcamp you will have the opportunity to receive mentorship from over 100 expert entrepreneurs, investors & partners, up to 6 months of free office space, exposure to over 200 Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists, over €450K worth in partner services and the possibility to pitch at 4YFN, a featured program of the Mobile World Congress of 2015. What a line up.
As the name suggest, Seedrocket gives seed funding to startups that have a strong focus on technology. They provide excellent, active mentorship from industry experts and investors, and make sure that your startup will get adequate seed funding and the support it needs to kick-off the ground. With a strong focus on communication, they encourage startups to help each other, pass on know-how and expertise to fellow accelerator members.
Conector offers a program of up to 6 months for digital tech startups that are at their very initial stages. The program includes extensive training from a group of 80+ mentors, each a successful online entrepreneur, support for legal services, and the possibility to pitch to private investors and venture capital firms at the end of the program. Their key selling-point is mentorship: startups and mentors alike must choose who they would like to be there mentor/ee. A board is created for each startup, combined with members from the startup and their mentors, who have monthly meetings to discuss strategy.
Access to Capital
There might be a general understanding that there is a shortage of early stage capital in Barcelona, but the truth is a little different. To name a few, investment firms such as Nauta Capital, Active VP, Highgrowth, Caixa Capital Risc and Inveready are all present in Barcelona and are looking to invest in promising tech startups. Well-known angel investment groups active in the city include ESADE BAN, Keiretsu Forum and Finaves. It shouldn’t be long before you’re making key contacts and chatting about future collaborations.
Top European business school, EADA, have since 2013 launched an ‘incubacceleration’ program where they provide a collaborative loan of seed capital and office space in Almogàvers Business Factory of Barcelona. It is a collaboration between EADA and Bihoop, a venture that was launched by a few school alumni in 2012.
Early stage capital is great, but what about the subsequent, bigger funding? Yes, Barcelona has that too. There are an array of angel investors that do business in both Barcelona and Madrid, including Luis Martin and Jose Cabiedes of the Cabiedes and Partners angel fund (the first of such fund in Spain). Doctoralia founder Albert Armengol and entrepreneur and angel investor Marek Fodor are key few. Currently according to angel.co, there are over 100 angel investors living in Barcelona.
Barcelona Activa is a notable organisation founded in 1986, with the objective of promoting the economic growth of Barcelona. They are the people behind the Glòries Incubator, the Barcelona Nord Technology Park, the Almogàvers Business Factory, and ESA BIC Barcelona: key spaces that make sure the city’s entrepreneurs and companies have a base to grow from.
Part of their offerings to entrepreneurs is a warm and informative welcome session that offers trainings, various programs and business planning tools. They also introduce you to the legal procedures ranging from incorporation to taxing, that are specific to Barcelona and/or Spain. Apart from the expert advice, you are given the opportunity to receive personalised counselling and will be advised on many relevant events that take place within the city, that have great networking potential. As a startup, the amount of support you can get from an institution like Barcelona Activa is amazing. It is also a sign that the city is really making an effort to welcome entrepreneurs and their teams.
Barcelona’s commitment to entrepreneurship
So far, Barcelona has shown some promising commitment to developing an entrepreneurial hub in the city. The way the city’s incubation model has developed is a strong signal that the community is ready and is looking to, establishing itself as one of Europe’s leading startup cities. As mentioned earlier Barcelona Activa has made 4 key locations dedicated to entrepreneurs and their companies.
At the end of last year, mStartupBarcelona joined these locations as an accelerator hub for mobile startups. Backed by Barcelona Activa and the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation, their objective is to attract world-leading acceleration programs that can foster, incorporate and keep startups in Barcelona. They have already agreed with Startupbootcamp, IMPACT and Gamebcn, who will cultivate around 40 startups this year. Barcelona already has an excellent status as a mobile world capital due to its yearly conference that brings over 2000 senior telecoms and industry executives to the city. For those entrepreneurs with a mobile/gaming startup it is an excellent opportunity to be part of this community.
Barcinno is another great example of commitment to the entrepreneurial community. It is the only English online resource that is dedicated to strengthening this community within the city by sharing important news, knowledge and events. They look to support Barcelona in expanding its innovative presence locally and internationally. It’s an excellent way to get involved and get to know the other like-minded individuals that have chosen to grow their company in Barcelona. Let’s not forget to mention the startup job fairs that take place every year as well.
Barcelona might still be in its infancy as a tech innovation hub compared to the heroes like Silicon Valley and London, but you have to agree that there is a lot going for it. There are many entrepreneurial movements and support systems being developed, that pretty soon startups will be fighting over who can get there first. So if you feel that your startup has what it takes, what are you waiting for?
Hi, what about the taxes in Spain? As far as I know you have to pay around 300euros per month to work as a freelancer.
That’s correct. You need to pay 261,83 eur (social taxes in 2014) + income taxes. The good thing is that when it is your first registration as a self-employed person and you work without employees, you’ll pay 53,07 euros during first 6 months, The next 6 months you pay 183,28 eur + some benefits for people younger than 30 y/o.
Another questionable aspect is when one needs to sign up with social security taxes. Most legal specialists suggest that according to the law there are several factors (I’m quoting by memory, so it’s better to confirm it), the most important is regularity of the economic activity. When you are a start-up you create your project, but in many cases there is no economic activity yet.
> The good thing is that when it is your first registration as a self-employed person and you work without employees, you’ll pay 53,07 euros during first 6 months, The next 6 months you pay 183,28 eur + some benefits for people younger than 30 y/o.
Note that if you want to create a company instead of just being autonomo, you will have to pay full amount of autonomo.
Hi Emma, good article but it is no use praising Barcelona when your company is based in Denmark !!
A bit like the pot calling the kettle black 😉
The article is cool, but you forgot to mention Ada Colau in the article…if you know what I mean lol
I run a seafood buisness here in Asia and am looking to create an online platform/marketplace. I visited Spain this July and think with a vibrant start up culture and access to good seafood suppliers Spain could be a good option for my business. Can you give me some advice on accelerator programs that would be suitable to live and fresh seafood trading focused in Asia.
Steven Pineda says
How many new start ups are being created per year with the help of organisations like Bcn Activa?
What is the cost of closing the operation in Barcelona in case things go wrong?