EU-Startups.com moves in

EU-Startups.com, one of Europe’s leading startup publications, just moved into the itnig co-working space

With the start of the new year we are opening up our 5th floor as a co-working space to welcome talented individuals and promising startups to join us! Earlier this month, Thomas and Pablo from EU-Startups have arrived and are joining us in a collaboration, sharing their insights and startup knowledge not just with us internally but with you through our blog as well.

EU-Startups.com is one of the leading startup blogs in Europe with up to date information on startups, in-depth analysis of different sectors and many interesting interviews focussing on specific aspects of business. Next to the online publication, Thomas and Pablo are organizing the yearly EU-Startups Summit — this year to be held on the 24th of April with 750 founders, startup enthusiasts, corporates, angel investors, VCs as well as media people from all across Europe.

Thomas and Pablo met at MY-WAY, a project by the European Union thought to foster startup creation among students and asking what the EU can do to support them. Pablo was then working in Brussels with the student organization AEGEE and joined EU-Startups at the beginning of this year, focussing on the organization of the EU-Startups Summit.

They found together through a common interest for Europe and entrepreneurship, and the with the goal to foster innovation cross-boarder, spanning all of our countries and facilitating access to different resources. Undecided about which city to move to, Thomas finally settled for Barcelona last year as he thought it might be an easy pitch to convince event attendees, and future contributors, to visit to sunny Catalunya.

“Berlin might have more capital, cheaper rents and more tech talent, but I see a bright future and high quality startups here in Barcelona”.

While talking about the business model of EU-Startups as a magazine, Thomas talked about everything but a magazine. A job board, premium reports, a startup sourcing service, sponsored posts by corporates, and the EU-Startups Summit they are organizing since 2014 is what brings EU-Startups revenues. Actually we could be speaking about several business models.

Thomas, how did you get started writing about startups?

I was always interested in tech and new business models, and in 2010 I felt there is a need for an online publication that covers startups from a European perspective. More and more cross-boarder funding deals were happening, cross-boarder expansion, acquisitions, etc. So I started EU-Startups.com. Today the site attracts over 80,000 founders, investors and startup enthusiasts each month.

What have you learned from reading countless press releases a day?

You don’t learn a lot from reading press releases. I think you learn much more from talking to founders, investors, corporates and by doing your own research. Press releases always just paint the picture that a startup wants you to see. The reality looks often a bit different.

How should I pitch my startup to be featured in EU-Startups.com?

First of all, you should have something newsworthy to announce. As long as you didn’t invent a time machine or a teleportation device, the fact that your startup exists is not news. I actually have a little presentation on how to increase your chances to get press coverage, which I presented in some events. If you’re interested to read it, send a short email to [email protected] and I’m happy to forward it to you.

When you hear the word Blockchain what is the first association that pops in your mind?

It’s a hot topic. A bit too hot in my opinion. I sometimes have the feeling that all tech startups these days are either doing something AI, chatbot, or blockchain related. I mean it’s an interesting concept, but there are not so many actual use cases for it yet. In theory, yes. But in reality, we’ll have to see which kind of impact the blockchain concept will actually have going forward.

VCs come into action — Breakdown of Spanish investment activity of January 2018

January closes with €195.3 million investments in Spanish startups within 24 operations

  • The Spanish entrepreneurial ecosystem is maturing thanks to investment rounds of more than €10 millions.
  • Barcelona and Madrid continue leading the Spanish ecosystem.

This is the first in a series of posts in which we will do an analysis of the Spanish startup investment landscape. We will look at the overall funding numbers and trends in the country month by month and compare it with data of the previous year.

What are the Spanish investment activities like on a month to month basis? What deals and volumes are we talking about? At what stages are startups prone to search investment and which regions in Spain attract the most funding?

The year 2017 brought us plenty in terms of innovation and investment activity within the area of technological startups, although Spain has been driven by political problems. The developments we have seen in 2018 so far are picking up at just the same fast pace.

January has closed with €195.3 million investments in Spanish startups within 24 operations. Of these funding rounds, highlights are the round of Cabify, Hawkers and Redpoints :

  • Cabify: The ride-hailing app that competes against Uber, has raised €143.3 million ($160) Series E funding round from a mix of previous and new investors, including Rakuten Capital, TheVentureCity, Endeavor Catalyst, GAT Investments, Liil Ventures and WTI, as well as prominent local investors from Spain and Latin America.

When analyzing the structure of financing deals, the increase in venture capital activity in Jan-18 is noticeable in comparison with Jan-17.

#Deals and volume in the Spanish startup investment landscape in January


In terms of the number of deals closed, we have seen a slight downward trend in the country. With a broad participation of Venture Capital, there have been less deals but more capital invested in each transaction. The reason for such a boost is mostly the gigantic financing round of Cabify with participation of giants’ VCs like Rakuten Capital, TheVentureCity and others.

The entry of European, American and Japanese funds investing in Spanish startups are accounting for a large percentage of the growth of the investments in Spain. At the same time, this global investment rise is making the average value of the financial rounds soar up to more than 1.5 times that of the previous year (without taking account of Cabify’s investment, that would turn this factor to more than 6 times the previous year)

The differences between January-2017 and January 2018 in terms of the increase in venture capital activity is shown below:

Startup investment deals by size of round


As we expected to see, the number of operations closed by investment size tends to a larger number in larger deals. While the number of deals of €500k or less have decreased considerably, the number of larger deals have gone up notably. This might be understood as an increasing number of companies maturing and reaching later stages of funding.

To properly ensure the aforementioned, in the following figure we show the breakdown of the investment activity by year of foundation of the company:

Startup investment activity (Jan-18) by year of foundation


Our previous statement is reinforced by this figure. The large transactions take place on established companies. In general, the more years a startup survives, the more established it is. As we observed, in average, the startups that were previously founded are those who raised more funding. That makes sense because normally an older startup has a bigger team and unless it has reached breakeven, it will need more funds to survive.

Startup investment deals by Region



Regarding the breakdown of startup investments by region, Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia bolster their position in the top of Spanish regions:

  • Cataluña (mostly in Barcelona) stands with 9 deals closed and an investment of €19 millions
  • Madrid gathers 7 deals and an investment of €148 million (€143 million in Cabify)
  • Valencia up to 3 deals and €23 million (€20 million in Hawkers)

Operations January 2018:

Podcast #24: Itnig’s point of view on Gymforless’ exit

In itnig’s Podcast #23 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig and Pau Fernández, CFO at itnig share their point of view on Gymforless’ exit. How did the company start, pivot, live the change of CEO and reach an agreement with Sodexo which lead to the sale of the startup last week.

At itnig every Friday we sit down to talk with interesting people whom we meet throughout the week and we make a podcast (in Spanish) out of our conversations. You can listen to it on iTunes, subscribe to our channel on Youtube or enjoy it through iVoox.

For this Podcast #24 dedicated to the story of Gymforless, Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Pau Fernández, CFO at itnig, César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial, Roger Dobaño, Product Manager at Quipu and Bettina Gross, Talent Acquisition at itnig come together to talk about the beginning, the pivots and the exit of Gymforless.

https://upscri.be/5c88ff/

Gymforless started out as a flexible model on how to use gym, directed to final consumer offering fitness tracking. Instead of models like Freeletics or 8fit, whom we have previously spoken about here at itnig, Gymforless focussed its tracking on workouts at the gym.

Guillermo Libre started out with the project and from itnig we supported him in tech development and an initial investment. The work on the b2c segment was very intense and it cost us a lot in marketing and customer acquisition, bringing only small margins.

Transition from daily pass to club, membership

With this panorama, Guillermo made a first pivot from a Daily Pass (pay per use) model to a Club Pass (a subscription) model. It was a hard decision, we were scared leaving something behind that was working and it seemed like a dangerous move.

It’s hard to leave something that is working, even though it’s not your core business.

After all, this was a very important change and from the on the project had a new direction. We were adding more features like rewards to work on churn. However this was only the first of many changes the startup would go through.

Guillermo, founder of the project had to leave the project and move to Madrid. In most cases such a change of CEO in an initial phase is the end of the business. Not in Gymforless’ case. Guillermo knew Oriol, current CEO, from working together in the past and he joined Gymforless to lead the startup through the next adventures. Oriol had extensive experience in Sales and B2B.

Pivot to a new direction — going corporate

The next step for Gymforless was a change in its customer target base. We started acquiring companies and offer gym as benefit for employees. The companies were very receptive to offer these kind of benefits and we soon had a working model. Oriol’s experience in B2B Sales helped this pivot from consumer to corporate business tremendously.

This change made the relationships with the gyms easier as well. Gyms no longer saw us as a threat, or cannibalization of their customers.


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Gymforless’ beginning and exit story. Learn more in this Podcast in Spanish on our Youtube channel, listen to it on iTunes or enjoy it through iVoox and subscribe to our newsletter to stay always up to date.

Podcast #23: Arturo Quintero — International expansion of Moravia

The story about how a Mexican and a Czech built an international company starting in communist times

In itnig’s Podcast #23 Arturo Quintero, partner at itnig, shares the story of Moravia with us: How he set up the translation company together with his partner in the 90s, how they internationalized and created a global structure and what he has learned in the process.

Moravia is the story of a project that starts in a local market, is proven and reaches success and then takes the next step to internationalise.

At itnig every Friday we sit down to talk with interesting people whom we meet throughout the week and we make a podcast (in Spanish) out of our conversations. You can listen to it on iTunes, subscribe to our channel on Youtube or enjoy it through iVoox.

For this Podcast #23 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig and Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial meet with Arturo Quintero, one of our partners at itnig and founder of Moravia to talk about his experiences.

https://upscri.be/5c88ff/

Arturo grew up in Ciudad de México and with luck found his way to study in Poland. During the communist regime, without any political interest he found himself studying in Krakow. “I spent some years there until arriving in Budapest where I met a student whose parents were translators. At that time there were only governmental translation agencies but as you know in this time there were a lot of changes in Europe. Dynamic times when all services like transport and restaurants were liberated. So if you had an idea there was a good chance to build something.”

This is when Moravia, named after the region in Czech Republic, was created. Today it is one of the biggest companies in its sector with a yearly revenue of 50 million $, a strong client base and presence in 9 countries.

It was a great adventure of 22 years leading this company!

You tell your story so easy, but a lot of times this internationalization is hard. How did you take your first steps out of the Czech Republic?

We had big ambitions as we kept seeing that what we were doing was satisfying our clients. They were happy with us. Our business idea in itself is multicultural — localization means adapting the product as if it was created locally — so going global was a natural step for us.

To a certain degree you have to follow your intuition, to just go for it, but you also need a bit of structure, a plan. It’s a mix of both.

Who were your first clients?

Tech companies like Minolta and Hewlett Packard. We were doing translation from English and Czech. And they were looking for local companies to translate manuals and later on displays of photocopy machines. We also started working with Oracle, who already had a team for European languages in Holland, and they gave us their first big contract for Czech. Oracle really liked what we did and asked us to translate to Polish as well. So we set out to create an office in Poland and started working. Next up Hungary and soon we were known for localization to ‘exotic languages’ like Bulgarian, Hungarian…You have to remember the times! There was no internet and all technology, like translation memory, was new.

These first assignments allowed us to see the potential we had. Our goal was to work for Microsoft.

And we finally reached this goal of working for Microsoft in 1995. We added more and more languages and employed technology to help us in our processes. Translation memory is such a technology that allows you to recycle translated pieces as they are saved with their source. The software analyzes the text so that when a similar phrase appears, the translation can be reused. This makes the process quicker, consistent and efficient as we can use content created by other translators in our network as well.


Business model — What is it and how has it evolved?

We follow an Enterprise model lets’ say with few clients but high volume.

When we started out I was the first sales person. Before there was Internet getting access to people who know a certain language or people who know a certain technology was really hard. I am not saying it’s easy today either but there are certain advantages. I was the one who brought the first clients, at that time I did not even consider myself a sales man but if I look back at it, yes I was doing sales, growing our company.

Later on you need a process, a sales methodology and a lot of discipline. As we were working with big companies, they already had processes in place and a clear budget and visibility of the market. However, when the buyer has a lot of knowledge, it makes it also hard to defend your prices and keep your margins.

What is most impressive for me is how you opened up new offices in different countries. What does it mean to open an office in Japan or China?

Every experience was different and we were learning continuously. In general there were two reasons to open an office:

  • be closer to our clients
  • have a cost advantage in production.

China, Czech Republic and Argentina were places with highly qualified people, high talent to develop software at competitive costs. Japan, USA and Ireland were close to our clients, here our sales was strong working on product acceptance, budget etc. Translation is always done by an agency with translators — we do the compilation and quality control.

How big was your sales team by country?

We did not structure our teams by country. Our customers, take for example a company developing software for architecture with Asia, Europe and the Americas decide whom to work with. We had to convince all three of these points and we realized they were very well connected. I could not offer a discount to the office in Singapore as there was direct communication with California office. We replicated this structure in Moravia as well. Connecting our offices and making sure we had the same communication.

Operative point of view : Did you move the HQ of your company from Czech Republic to another place?

No, it remained in Czech Republic and from there creating subsidiaries. When I left the company, of course, I don’t know what changes have been made.

There were enough consultants who came and offered a move to Ireland. But it was never our goal to maximize for tax purposes.

Venture Capital — Have you ever raised outside capital?

No, every year was of growth and profit so we were able to reinvest our profit into growth. When I left private equity entered the company but not before. We did not need it. Now looking back I can see that it could have been an advantage but it had never crossed our minds before. I think venture capital allows you to be faster. You are able to

  • grow more quickly,
  • implement technology &
  • do strategic acquisitions.

It’s not just the money but also the people behind it with their experience who can guide you in the growth in the company.

Why did you decide to leave Moravia and how was this process?

There is not one reason. With the birth of my daughter my perspective on life changed a bit and there were different dynamics with my partner as I was looking for a more aggressive growth as we were entering a more competitive market.

It’s a pleasure being part of the beginning of such a successful company.


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Arturo Quintero and Moravia’s story. Learn more in this Podcast in Spanish on our Youtube channel, listen to it on iTunes or enjoy it through iVoox and subscribe to our newsletter to stay always up to date.

Gymforless acquired by Sodexo Spain

Gymforless has been acquired by Sodexo BRS Spain on February 1st 2018. Gymforless is a market place that gives access to more than a 1.000 fitness clubs to consumers and employees — combining thus a BtoC and BtoBtoC model.

From a simple gym access app Gymforless has become a benefit plan for companies, offering a better quality of life to their employees. As such Gymforless has attracted the attention of Sodexo Spain and the group has decided to acquire the startup. The leader in the sector of restaurant tickets plans to integrate Gymforless into their portfolio of services dedicated to contributing to the quality of life of employees and their motivation.

In this short video interview Oriol Vinzia, CEO of Gymforless talks about the past, present and future of the company:

With this acquisition Gymforless will become part of strong group while maintaining its autonomy.

“They know we are a startup and they understand we need to be able to grow at the pace of a startup.”

“If we integrate completely they know we’ll lose speed. In a few years the structure will definitely be different but at the moment we we will remain independent while creating partnerships with their existing clients.

Corporate wellness is a trend. Everybody talks about it and it becomes more and more important for companies to offer benefit policies to retain their talent. Everybody wants to work out and have it as easy as possible. With Gymforless companies can give their employees just that!”

Oriol, how did you start at Gymforless?

I joined Gymforless after the startup was founded and had been working for about a year. Guillermo Libre whom I met through Groupalia while we worked there together called me.

It was easy for him to convince me as Gymforless combines my two passions: sports and ecommerce. I started my career at Decathlon and later switched to online while working at Vente Privee and seven years at Groupalia, in the sales and marketing area.

How was your start?

When I joined Gymforless, Guillermo who had founded the company was about to leave so right away we went through a change of leadership.

The change of CEO in a very young company is not easy — I had to integrate in the team quickly and take new steps in a new direction together. As an app we started selling day passes but then pivoted to what you now know as Gymforless Club. Through our Club app you get to access different gyms in your area, you get to chose the day, activity and sports center.

The market is very competitive with a wide range of independent gyms and only very few gym chains it is also very fragmented and dispersed. We bring the gyms together so that consumers can chose easily. For gyms we bring them new users who discover their activities — Gymforless brings them extra revenue.

How did you approach sales and expansions within a city?

When Gymforless started it was not easy to sell — we did not have the app but had to sell the idea and there was nothing comparable to Gymforless in the fitness industry. So we looked to other areas where similar models are working. Booking.com does the same for hotels or ElTenedor for restaurants. We were a new player in the market, so it was first hard to explain it to gyms but after the first year the acquisition of customers has become much easier.

First we needed volume of partners and then we brought the customers. We were generating a high volume of transactions and we realized that this was an attractive offer for companies. Now we have a team dedicated to acquiring gyms, another team dedicated to acquiring companies as customers who offer Gymforless as a benefit to their employees and thirdly we have our marketing team concerned with acquiring final consumers. With this new area dedicated to b2b customers we were able to grow much faster and we’ll see what this new partnership with Sodexo will bring.