The Rise of Female Entrepreneurs

Let’s talk about female entrepreneurs and how the rise of them is just beginning.

In 2018, the American Mentoring platform SCORE published a report considering female entrepreneurship in which we find out that in the US women-owned enterprises employ approximately 9M people and generate more than $1.6T. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor also covered the topic and pointed out that 126M women now start or run their own business. The rise of female entrepreneurship has been highly pointed out by the media in the last years; more and more debates come to life considering the presence of women in tech, entrepreneurship, and business; this is why we decided to share with you our findings and opinion on the topic.

What’s going on in female entrepreneurship?

Female entrepreneurs are on the rise, the number has increased by 18% in 2017 and today represent 26% of all businesses. The TOP industries where female entrepreneurship is present correspond to health, fitness, retail, beauty, business services, food, cleaning, and maintenance.

59% of women explain starting a business in order to pursue their passion and 42% be their own boss. Despite the growth in female entrepreneurship; we can recognize a strong gender disparity culture and a need for things to evolve.

The Harvard Business School undertook a study where a group of males and a group of females presented the exact same business proposal for investment. The outcome of the experience shows that 39% of investors said they would offer to fund the women in contrast to 68% for the males.

Females in business face strong issues and stereotypes that need to be beaten to the root in order to engage the economic impact and new wave of leadership. Women are underrepresented business leaders; 5% of the CEO in Fortune 500 are female, and only 20% are Fortune 500 board members.

This under-presence is not the only issue; women and males have a huge gap in salaries. The world’s highest CEO pay corresponds to $87.5M for Gregory Maffin the CEO of Library Media against $47.2M for Carol Bartz, ex-CEO of Yahoo.

Let’s not desperate considering the issues that women are facing in business; day by day things are changing. More and more female leaders are empowering the case of women promoting their hard work and impact in society.

What women have to say?

We discussed with Zeynep Demirbilek; the CEO and founder of Service Club to have the point of a view directly from a woman. She points out that in business she doesn’t visualize a difference between women and males. From her point of view, it should not be based on gender but on the individual themselves.

She recognizes that as a woman, there are a lot more compromises and that it can be more complicated. Women have to take care of their career, just like they traditionally take care of the family; she admits admiring the women able to balance the upbringing of kids and the scaling of a business.

She points out that many times, she has been asked if the reason for her success, was being a woman; when the hard work and commitment should be the only recognizable values.

She considers that the presence of women in business will highly influence the future of management due to their abilities to be more considerate, understanding than their male peers. The rise of female in business will increase the use of emotional intelligence in business management.

Female Entrepreneurs in VCs

In the world of VC, females are not present enough. The UK Treasury Report shows that all-female leadership teams have received less than 1p for every £1 of investment in startups. In the US, female VCs are shadowed by the high male presence, only representing 9% of VCs; we can also point out that 74% of US VC Firms are all-men. This huge gender disparity, is, unfortunately, causing a lack of funding in female-founded projects, lacking promotion and empowerment.

However, let’s not be too negative; things are changing step by step by the hard work and development of engaged and dedicated female leaders, empowering women all across the world to believe in themselves and start their company.

Venture Capital firms in the United States for female founders and co-founders have been trending up in recent years; several women-led funds and incubators were launched in 2018 promoting the presence of females in the sector.

Source: Crunchbase

In one of their recent article, Crunchbase mentioned that 7% of partners at the top 100 ventures firms were women and that females held under 12% of the partner roles in accelerators and corporate venture firms.

Based on the data gave by pitchbook.com we know that between 2008 and 2019, the female (co)founded VC deal has increased from 3.3% to 6.1%; and the female (co)founded VC Capital went from 1.7% to 2.2%. The number is trending slowly and raising step by step showing the need for a boost in female presence in Venture Capital.

In a second place, the charts provided by pitchbook.com shows that the deal flow by female co-founded companies increased from $2.2B in 2008 to $16.2B in 2019.

We can recognize promising female-founded startups that raised heavy investment such as:
-Glossier, founded by Emily Weiss raising $192M
-RenttheRunway founded by Jennifer Hymn and Jennifer Fleis raising $321M and Humacyte founded by Laura Niklason, Juliana Blum and Shanna Daki raising $438M

We can also recognize the development of promising female-founded investment firms such as:
-TheJumpFund founded in 2013 BY Stephanie Grove and Kristina Montague investing in 33 projects, with 6 successful exits; BBG ventures founded in 2014 by Susan Lyne investing in 84 projects with 9 exists and Rethink Impact, founded by Jenny Abramson in 2015 investing in 23 projects and 1 current exit.

What can we conclude about that? The VC funding statistics for women are not high, but there are going up step by step. It’s important to recognize the need to empower women in business and engage the economic activity of female entrepreneurship.

More and more role models are empowering women and the future generation of leaders to see their potential and recognize women as important as men in the industry. This week, it is the famous tennis player Serena Williams that revealed a new venture capital ownership; the US tennis superstar launched Serena Ventures promoting diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity. This type of role model changes the way women are seen day by day and promotes the economic and business achievement of each one of them.

When asked his opinion on the topic, Albert Domingo the CEO of NextTRet said how important for women it was to grow within all industries and recognized their ability for multi-tasking. He shared with us that after being present for many years in business, he saw the need for women to present themselves more on the venture capital scene. As he mentioned, today in venture capital we see many sharks, people with no compunction that are only going after the power and money. He pointed out that women are recognized for having a deeper emotional intelligence than men and that it could give some variety to future VCs.

Female in Technology

Finally to discuss women in tech, we can point out that they only represent  20% of US’s Tech jobs, when they represent half of the American workforce. However, there has been an increase of 68% of tech businesses founded by women between 1997 and 2014.

Based on the information given by entrepreneur.com we understand that the number of a startup with a least one female increased from 9.5% to 18% between 2009 and 2014.

However, it’s a must to recognize that women are underrepresented, as they encounter only 7% of tech roles in Europe and only 11% of Software Developers roles. 5% of Tech-startups are owned by women, it is going to be critically important to engage the empowerment of women in tech in order to diversify our industries and economies.

We discussed with Adrienne Fanning, the CEO of the founder of Sawyer. She considered having received a lot of support since she arrived in Barcelona three years ago, especially by the Tech and Startup World. She recognizes that sometimes it can be challenging to be a woman in this ‘Boyzy club’. She considers that it’s time today, for women to be given more of a voice in business, VC, and Tech; to be able to spread empowerment, confidence, and the development of projects.

Finally one the last note considering women in tech, Alexis Roig mentioned that there is a lack of promotion within the technology industries for young girls; making tech look ‘for boys’. He considers that females in tech don’t have enough role models to follow and that we must make girls part of it from a very young age. He underlined the great work, done by BSC, promoting technological industries in the educational programs of girls from a very young age.

To conclude, women are taking more and more space on the Business, Tech, and Venture Capital front. They promote new management and a new perspective to business and allow the diversification of our industries. More than ever, it is important to promote the work of women to step by step change our world for a more balanced place. Now more than ever is essential to follow female entrepreneurs.

Doing Business in China — Podcast #27 with Alexis Roig

In itnig’s Podcast #27 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial and César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial speak with Alexis Roig entrepreneur in China about how he got started and the challenges and opportunities he faces on a day to day basis.

Summing up 9 years of living in China in terms of bureaucracy, local partners, recruitment of talented team members, cultural differences and the effects of pollution.

Before moving to Shanghai I was living in France. Little decisions bring you to new places. To me, European culture felt pretty similar once you learn the language. So, after a time in France I was looking for something new, a cultural challenge. And in that sense China, Shanghai really seemed like a personal and professional challenge with huge opportunities for business and technology.

I moved to Shanghai initially working for a French company — and I arrived there without knowing anything. If you have something entrepreneurial in you, China is contagious. It has another rhythm, everybody has another company, side projects. In the first year I started with my own personal project while working at the company.

What kind of projects did you start?

We started out with Food & Beverage products that were innovative at that time. Later I dedicated myself to education, developing collaboration between Europe and China and now lately consulting projects in technological diplomacy. International relation paired with science, innovation and technology.

In general, Chinese don’t cook at home, most people eat out. So we launched a restaurant with mediterranean/ catalan cuisine. Far away from technology, this was a very interesting project.

How do you create business in China?

If you are thinking more about the bureaucratic aspect it’s not easy: As foreigner there is a format to follow, a lot of regulation and norms for taxes and recruitment. These rules for foreigners differ from rules applied to Chinese businesses.

And it’s not just bureaucracy — you need a new approach to everything.

Chinese internet is another world.

You’ll have to think of other ways of doing business — Amazon Web Services, Google Apps, GitHub …. you won’t be able to do business as usual and have to find new ways. When you want to start in China, you’ll need maximum humility and you should look at it as if it were your very first project.

What is the work culture like?

For me as entrepreneur this is probably the hardest challenge. Talent lack, no team work, not much creativity — based in education system. You listen to the teacher but you never question his wisdom. No creativity, no critical thinking, no group work. This education system helps to keep up the system but it also means that China is lacking talent working in new areas of science and technology.

People are only children — this also has an implication on their behavior. In a family there might be six people who are looking after one child, all frustration, aspiration and expectations are focussed on one child. This child receives a look of pressure on what to do in life, whom to marry, where to work, if to buy a house or not…This also affects the way you look at work.

You ask somebody for an opinion — but it’s hard to get an answer.

This is generalizing of course, stereotypes. Now the trend is to bring back Chinese population who left to study abroad, start business or work in laboratory. They know how to move in the Chinese society and have seen the ‘world outside’.

How do you sell in China?

In terms of Internet, the Chinese internet user is very accustomed to buy online. 8 years ago when I arrived to Shanghai, I was surprised! In the subway in the morning everybody around me was buying online through their mobile. At the same time in Europe, we had Amazon but it wasn’t the same thing. I still use my desktop to shop, compare prices and find information about the product looking to buy. And when arriving at the office, the reception was swamped with parcels.

Most Chinese people’s first contact with internet is through the phone. Like in other areas of development, the first product introduced to the market was a phone not a desktop pc.

30 years ago China was a miserable place but now people are dressed with international brand, big cars, use the latest smartphone. The boom of consumer society, deleting the story of the country, religion is the money, the big aspiration is making money, paying a good education for children and finding a high paying job. What’s left of communism is probably only the leading party’s name.

If you are interested in hearing more about starting a business in China, watch the whole podcast on Youtube or listen to it on iTunes.


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Alexis’ adventures in developing businesses in China. 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 #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.

Podcast #22 Setting up and managing a sales team

Selling is pure adrenaline. The pressure we have in sales makes us feel alive.

In itnig’s Podcast #22 we talk about all things sales: How to close a deal, what motivates a sales professional and the way to setup and manage a sales team.

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.

https://upscri.be/5c88ff/

For this Podcast #22 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial, César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial, Masumi Mutsuda, Media at itnig talk with Ramon Santocildes, CEO at Quipu and Ernesto Venditto, Camaloons’ Sales Director about setting up and managing a B2B Sales team.

Ramon is an engineer by education and has developed his career in telecommunication companies and joined Quipu in the spring of last year as CEO. Ernesto on the other hand has worked for different web portals selling web services to businesses. For him Selling is a lifestyle.

What do you like about Sales?

Ramon: Selling does not mean being a charlatan. For me it’s detecting opportunities, needs and giving the best solution possible to customers.

Ernesto: Selling is part of everybody’s life. Just living we sell in all we do. I like to establish relationships with people, to present myself and discover other people.

Closing a big deal is satisfying. A personal conquest!

Listen to our podcast to learn more about the motivation of a sales professional, about how to detect a sales personality and how to manage a sales team.

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.

Employer Branding – Big words or something real to do?

Since I updated my Linkedin profile a little while ago to reflect my new responsibility for Talent Acquisition at itnig I have been bombarded with messages and offers about improving our employer branding. It is honestly something we have never thought about since showing ourselves as who we are at itnig or any of our startups came naturally to us. Now I wonder if there is some truth to the idea of creating a brand not just for your customers but for your future employees too? Does a promotional video or an enhanced Linkedin company page really have an impact on us finding and signing on the right people to grow our teams and companies?

Does this video make you want to work with us?

Employer brand — Image, Identity & Perception

When we started out at itnig, recruitment and employer branding went through our personalities. Our employer branding was the perception of our personality, our reputation and our enthusiasm for the product. New hires were convinced about us as people — that our CEO would have a destination in mind and be able to lead us there, that our CTO would know to implement these plans and to create a strong system, that our CMO would understand the market and adapt or shape according to customer’s preferences, that our COO would keep up with operations and quality standards no matter the rush…In the beginning we were all the employer brand as persons with our positive attributes but also flaws. But how does this play out when the company grows, when it is no longer possible nor desirable that the personalities of the different employees ressemble the company as a whole?

Going from personality-hiring to company-hiring

Our first hires were our friends or people we met through extended networks like our first marketing intern for the French market whom I was introduced to through a guitar playing couchsurfer who stayed at my house for a week. Old university friends came to join our Sales team in Barcelona, friends of cousins of one of our team members became part of Camaloon and past colleagues were dragged along from the old employer to find a place at itnig. But with time we ran out of suitable candidates and had to find other ways: job offers, university contacts & head hunting.

And this is where I am being told to create a brand just like we do in customer acquisition and to think of our candidates as another kind of customer to whom we need to show the value of working with us not just through our interviews and personalities, job descriptions and offers but also through actively promoting it on social media and other outlets.

If we are having fun at work, spending our time on exciting projects be it technologically or in terms of customer acquisition funnels and are a team of interesting people, is that not enough to attract?

An employer brand should show what we as a company can offer new team members, why anybody should chose to sign on with us and what employees can expect in the long run.

The expectations we set

In new team members we look for curiosity, drive, potential to grow, dedication and willingness or openness to contribute.

I worked freelance for a long time and even though I truly enjoyed my work and learned a lot it was always second. I was first a potter, a guitar player, a student… and then an online marketer. In a startup like ours at itnig this could not work out. If all our team members thought like that we could not achieve what we have set out. With such ambitious growth goals it’s hard to accept anybody in our team who does not first identify as important part and impulsor of our organization. This does not have to mean long hours at the office but it means dedication, concentration and determination.

A startup does not have room for hands without brains that follows and executes orders. We all need to think about what we want to achieve, to plan how to achieve it and of course to question ourselves on the way.

We are a young, international team driven by professional and personal challenges. An insatiable curiosity. A bunch of people asking ‘Why?’. As companies with unknown, insecurity and instability in the market we have be quick to adapt, and with financial constraints the most interesting we can offer is not the salary. We opt for learning, for opportunities for growth and it’s also a philosophy of frugality. Of being able to make the most of scarce resources, of scrambling and inventing. Of getting creative and not comfortable. We don’t want money to be the motivator for any person who joins our team.

That is what we look for and value in a person when we search a new full stack developer, sales agent or Admin specialists, but what do candidates look for in us?

What we represent so far

When candidates face the decision between starting at Factorial, Quipu, Camaloon…and another startup, what makes the differences? In the interviews I have conducted over the past weeks that was always one of the answers I was curious about. What do you look for in a company? What makes a good company for you? However — unfortunately until now — I have only heard pretty standard answers which makes me think that maybe most have not given it as much thought as research and the insistence of an enhanced Linkedin company page suggests.

When I speak to recruitment agents or agencies I hear a lot of panic: ‘You need to work on your employer branding, all of Barcelona’s startups are fighting for the same talent as you, you need to stand out. Why should a candidate decide to start with you when there are so many other similar startup companies?’

According to a study conducted by a German university group amongst US college graduates (https://hbr.org/2015/12/what-makes-a-start-up-an-employer-of-choice), these (and in extrapolation we) evaluate a company based on:

– its office location

– the innovation at the company

– the degree to which employees can have an impact

– the founder’s qualifications like past (successful) ventures or prestigious universities

– any legitmacy-enhancing qualities like big-name investors

– lifestyle perks like free food, yoga classes, day car, bring your dog to work…

All of these have an impact on the decision yet the most important one is lifestyle perks with free fruits and coffee, sport offers and an openness to include the closest people too. When scrolling through job offers or thinking about similar startup offers my impression is that this is standard by now. Most have a beautiful office space with catered fruit and free coffee and offer spaces for sport and exercise such as a subsidized Gym4Less membership.

And it’s our job as an employer to make these factors clear to any candidate, to make innovation visible, to talk about our past experiences, to present our employees and their trajectory and to make office-life as comfortable as possible. Deep down I feel that this is something we naturally do because we enjoy going to work, because we shape our workplace ourselves and we take responsibility for it. Initiatives like free breakfasts do not come commanded from above, it’s us as a team who come up with it. However with the company scaling, it’s probably a good moment to revise it, to observe if really everybody is having their part in it and if not to ask if anything is missing.

So I started researching what employer branding means and what experts on this topic recommend to do to create such a brand. In textbooks employer branding is defined as:

“An organization’s reputation as an employer, and its value proposition to its employees, as opposed to its more general corporate brand reputation and value proposition to customers.”

and steps to create it are suggested as follow (taken a mix of recommendations from different sources):

1) Define your company’s core values

At our last party we asked our guests to define itnig. We were told itnig is a cultivating space for new ideas to take form, friends, a company in which you can grow, learn & have fun and even a mix of knowledge and good practices that push you to find a good solution and accompanies you. Avanguard.

2) Look at employees and customers as one big community

Just like you try to attract customers who purchase your service or product you need to view a candidate as somebody to attract and retain. And the ways and channels for acquisition are rather similar.

I would add to create a funnel just as you would for a customer who does not convert right away. Maybe the candidate is not the right fit at this moment but can be valuable for another position at another point in time. So keep in touch and communicate.

At the very beginning at Camaloon, after our first year, we decided to reach out directly to companies and offer our services to them and so we set up a sales team. After a successful phase in Spain with our first two ninjas, we set out to find our first italian sales team. We received so many applications that it was hard to evaluate the profiles against one another and as sales itself is inherently a social job, we decided to try group interviews and invited five candidates at the same time. With two Camalooners and five candidates we took up the whole meeting room and with the selection of personalities we had picked it almost seemed we were interviewing a rock band and not a group of sales professionals. The group interview was interesting — yet as such did not give room to everyone — and the five left Camaloon happily and even went out for a drink right after as we observed them through the window of our office. Anyways, the important part for me here was to keep in touch. Even though we had only been able to get a first impressions as such, I remember one person whom we did not hire for this position weeks or month later and he eventually became our social media specialist. Now, 5 years in, he is still there leading our community.

Community thinking — a big tank. Keep together, keep communicating, seed reminders or create situations like events or conferences to bump into each other from time to time.

3) Be digital and think mobile — Use social media

A no brainer.

4) Foster lifelong learning

We are curious people, it is something innate in us. Young people who want to learn, who are here to acquire more capacities and knowledge. Development opportunities within the startups but also in the whole community. We try to foster it by opening up our space for meetup groups, by organizing events ourselves and by creating spaces for language classes, yoga sessions etc…

We ask ourselves constantly what is more important: Talent or Experience?

5) Have your employees speak for you

With the fancy term Employee advocacy we define all team members or stakeholders representing the brand. I think this is unavoidable in a very good sense of the word. We spend most of our waking time at work, we dedicate ourselves to our projects and of course we love to talk about them!

6) Involve your team in hiring

Even though we do have a human resource department, we collaborate with each team for the hiring process. The team needs to be involved because in the end the new person is going to work with them but I think it’s also a big part of showing who we are and how we work to a candidate interviewing with us. And for HR it also means having someone experienced in the specific field being able to exactly explain the job position and asses the candidates.

7) Have HR and Marketing work together

HR & Marketing to create the brand and communicate but I would go a step further and involve everybody in the company.

We surround ourselves with like-minded people: In some cases, it’s a flaw I would say that we always stick to those that think like us but in some cases this human tendency can also reveal a positive side. We have a brilliant PPC analyst on board and are looking to someone with a similar sharp eye, it’s likely that they might be friends.

8) Create a positive customer experience for your candidates

Throughout the selection process from the job description, to the application review, the interviews — be it by phone or in the office — until the ‘keep in touch’ messages we think it’s important to establish a good and positive relationship with our candidates. We would like to stay in touch, to recommend our company to others and to be in the same space moving forward.

***

I have been writing this article on the train going back to my hometown in Germany. After three years working freelance as online marketer I just got settled back in an office environment and in a new field, human resource. Thus, my impressions over the past weeks have been plentiful — like a wave washing over me and most days I was running behind to get things done, to understand or to find the right person to talk to. Now, at this moment, with the landscape passing by through the train window and a sense of distance not being in Barcelona and an office environment anymore, it’s a bit easier to take a step back and to reflect about things. What first started out as annoyance with recruitment specialists trying to sell me something I thought was unnecessary I realized we are already doing a lot of employer branding — unconsciously just not through a dedicated website or a promotional video. Intuitively we have been following the suggestions to market our company, to think about our values, to involve our teams and to create a great customer experience for our candidates.

itnig’s new office: Party & Work with us

Last Friday we celebrated the opening of our new office space on the third floor of Alaba 61 with friends and family. With the music and atmosphere by Technoborn and a drink & food sponsoring by iKoula we were ready to go! 162 people made their way to our office and partied the night away! Here you’ll see some impressions and short fragments of the stories of our guests (in Spanish):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb_Q-jIayfA

In this podcast #18 we present a crowd-sourced podcast to you, asking our guests what they do, how they got there and what they associate with itnig.

What is itnig for you? A cultivating space for new idea to take form, friends, Avantguard, a company in which you can grow, learn & have fun and even a mix of knowledge and good practices that push you to find a good solution and accompanies you.

What is itnig for you and how can you contribute to our startups?

Join us: itnig.net/jobs

We will talk with Eloi & Arol from Codeworks about whether their 3 months intensive coding bootcamp can be an alternatives to universities. if you want to become a developer a university course might be too engineering focused — can a bootcamp be a solution?

Eliza is spending her day focussed on logistics, transporting online orders not yet with drones. Oriol Blanc is interrogated by Bernat on the relationship of him being in a company and the police stopping by to check if everything is in order. He also tells us a bit more about his past venture Gossip, a social app that grew and was dropped very quickly. Next up, Jaume Freixa from iKoula, a sponsor for the night, a company for cloud hosting dedicated to small and medium businesses. Jaume used to work with us many years ago and now comes back with an interesting solution to startups like ours.

Victor Martinez, another ex Camalooner, is confronted with the topic of our last podcast talking about recruitment. He was the one who took a technical test asked of him badly and perceived it as having to give free work to the recruiting company.

Xavi & Matthias, both in two open source corporate businesses, discuss what it is like to work in such an environment. Matthias will also mention his responsibility as gatekeeper, contributing himself to the Linux kernel and also checking other contributor’s branches. But what is it like in a working environment, where productivity is not measured, even though they follow agile methodology with a marked production rhythm?

Hear from Alex, who used to work at Playfulbet, about his use of microservices o monolithic app. You’ll also meet Aida Nogues, who started as artist hunter at Camaloon and talks about her days now as UX/UI Designer at Badi. She spends her time with user testing to validate features, flows or wireframes of the product they are developing or even UI and the design of the interface.

Lastly you’ll see Bernat interviewing Adria & Andre, one of our first Sales Ninjas in Camaloon, who came to celebrate with us. They are now dedicated to selling Saas for hospitals or travels for students in Switzerland.

If you want to join us in this open environment, nurtured by smart people, many ideas and even more discussions, take a look at our job board: itnig.net/jobs