Why and How We Invest in Startups
Itnig is a startup ecosystem, we’ve created our own companies: Factorial, Camaloon, Quipu, and Parkimeter. We are currently focused on investing in early-stage projects, through our investment vehicle. We also have a coworking space for startups and freelancers, in which we also organize events. And we have a weekly podcast about entrepreneurship, technology, and business.
What’s the story?
Itnig started, around 2009, as a software development agency. It all started at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. Basically we were nerds, we’re obsessed with technology and we were always looking for excuses to try new things. So we started selling projects. Then, at a certain point, we started working for entrepreneurs and we liked the experience.
We realized that technology wasn’t enough, it took a lot of things, like marketing and sales, for projects to be successful. And so we asked ourselves: «If we are so good at helping people achieve their goals, why don’t we do it? Why don’t we start a project? And so we decided to start Camaloon, which is an on-demand printing company.
At that time it offered a single product that was personalized pins, and in a single market that was Spain. We sold online, we made a very easy process to design your own product and receive it in 24 hours. And we started to have many clients, and we implemented this same model in other printing categories: magnets, stickers, then textiles … And we opened several markets in Europe: France, Italy, Germany … It is a quite spectacular growth, we went from 0 to 200 people and almost 20 million euros of turnover.
That’s a bit of the Itnig story: we started building technology and learned how to build entire businesses. We started Camaloon, our first startup and we decided not to stop there and created 12 more businesses, of which 6 have worked, and we’ve sold 2 of them: Playfulbet and GymForLess. The other 4 are the ones we are very focused on making them grow. Camaloon is still the largest, then Quipu, Parkimeter, and Factorial, which is our last startup and where I currently work full-time.
We are currently 300 people within the Itnig ecosystem. It is an ecosystem because we have a coworking space for startups looking for an ecosystem that empowers them and supports them. The coworking has a cafeteria, we call it “coffice”, where we share many ideas and organize events to talk about business, marketing, and technology.
When we sold Playfulbet and GymForLess, we also decided to open a small investment fund to invest in more startups. We have a weekly pitching session for entrepreneurs, they come to pitch their projects in exchange for feedback from investors and the audience.
Building our own businesses from scratch
Creating Camaloon made us look a little further and say: “we are going to look for clients and businesses” and, of course, when you want to start a business in a market that has existed forever, such as printing, you better think about how to do things differently, because if not, it will surely not grow. The markets are not waiting for new people to arrive, if you want to attract clients, you have to do different things. You have to add much more value to be able to grow significantly. And that’s what we do.
Itnig started without a single euro and has always been supported by investors of all kinds. They are usually business angels, individual investors who have made their own contributions, more than 150. We have also been supported by investment funds that have invested in our businesses. At Factorial, for example, we’re supported by one of the most important funds in Europe. We closed a 15 million euros round with CRV, an American fund from Silicon Valley, one of the oldest and best known in the sector. We have also had support from Enisa. In other words, we live in an ecosystem that has evidently supported us from day one.
Each project is a world. Itnig itself is a small group. The 300 people I am talking about are distributed in each of the startups (Camaloon, Quipu, Factorial). Each startup hires its own team. Itnig itself is a partner to all startups.
There is a big difference between the startups where we are involved and the projects in which we only invest. We get involved and manage the projects we created: Camaloon, Quipu, and Factorial. In fact, I manage a sales and marketing team at Factorial. While investing in third-party companies, which is the only thing we are doing, we invest once: between 100 and 150 thousand euros. We only participate by investing, we do not participate in management.
What are the requirements and conditions for Intig to invest in these startups?
One: to see a market in which there’s an opportunity to do something different and offer a solution.
And second: we are looking for very ambitious teams, those who think about how to change industries. We want people who think, “I’m going to change how that industry works – and why not- around the world.” We like people who are very product-oriented and know how to build it; people who know how to design a really modern user experience, and that want to make life easier, better. We really like to invest in products, and in people who are very technology-oriented, because that is our core.
To invest in a project, we have to understand the market and see the opportunity, we have to see that the team has the strength and energy to build something great. We invest in agile entrepreneurs who know how to move and are able to see the opportunity in any situation. In the end, the fund is an excuse to have talented and powerful people around us.
How much does Itnig invests per project?
We invest in early-stage (almost seed) startups, even if there is basically no product or there are no business metrics. We invest between 100 and 150 thousand euros per project. We invest in exchange for a percentage of the business, and it is a negotiation that in each case will depend. In some cases, we have 15 percent, as in others we have 2%. That is what we do to continue participating in new projects: invest.
Startups in which Itnig has invested so far
Syra is a coffee brand, which distributes through small physical points of sale, but it has also opened its online business very strongly, with delivery in one hour. And it has grown more than any of its stores, currently, its largest store is the online shop.
Founded in February 2020, Payflow is a new fintech that allows employees to collect the fraction of their salary that they have already worked instantly, through a mobile application whenever they want. Just six months after being founded, the startup closed a round of 1.6 million euros.
Vasquiat is a platform that allows fashion designers and fashion brands to sell their collections before taking them off the market, as a kind of exclusive user club. The startup operates in more than 40 countries worldwide.
Hireflix is founded by Nacho González Barros, entrepreneur and founder of many successful businesses, including Infojobs, Niumba, Mailtrack, etc. The platform aims to streamline the recruitment process, allowing the company to pre-record an interview and easily share it with candidates.
Kubbo is a distributed logistics system allowing small businesses to deliver their products in an hour of time. It offers electronic businesses a very fast and efficient delivery service.
Orain allows digital payment in all kinds of self-service machines, such as vending machines, cafes, laundries, parking lots, car washes, etc. and all associated services to ensure an optimal shopping experience.
Startups created by Itnig
It is a human resources management software. We offer digitalization of the signing of contracts, the absence of employees, medical leaves, time control. Everything related to employee management, we digitize it in a very easy way that anyone can understand.
Camaloon is an e-commerce, on-demand printing, which allows the design of personalized products, mainly for companies, events…
It is an administrative and financial management software for SMEs, which basically combines everything that is treasury management with the management of income and expense billing, and allows you to see how your business is in real-time.
With a network of more than a thousand parking, lots distributed in hundreds of cities in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France, Parkimeter is a European leader in digital parking solutions.
At Itnig we are always looking for talent, ambition and ideas to change the world.
If you are an entrepreneur and you are looking for financing, apply to the Itnig Fund, or come to our Pitch to Investors every Thursday.
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This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)