Startup Initiatives During COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 has become more than a health crisis, it’s causing all kinds of problems among society as we’ve seen in the news and experienced ourselves. As a result, many startups have expressed their willingness to help, either by trying to find solutions or making their products and services available to everyone. At Itnig, we’ve come across amazing startup initiatives, no matter the size or type of company!

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Top 5 Tech, Entrepreneurship & Marketing Communities in Barcelona

We found great tech, entrepreneurship, and marketing communities in Barcelona! If you’re looking for after-work activities, you should consider joining communities that share your interests. Being part of a community is part of Barcelona’s culture. You get to learn about different topics, meet new entrepreneurs and projects, and also discover places that you never knew about.

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Why You Should Consider a Coworking Space For Your Startup

Yes, we all know the tale about the guy who starts a small company in their garage or basement, has a brilliant idea, and becomes the next Steve Jobs. It’s true, most successes have very humble beginnings. It’s also true that not all garage or basements are going to magically get you a successful business. They might work in the very (very) early stages of your startup, but you can’t always meet a client at coffee shops. That’s why you should consider a coworking space for your startup.

Your home office or a coffee shop won’t be enough!

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Podcast #39 Jesús Monleón’s 1001 stories

In itnig’s Podcast #39 you’ll hear from Jesús Monleón and his story of entrepreneurship: Cofounder of eMagister, Seedrocket, Offerum, Glamourum, early team member of Trovit and active investor with invested entreprises like Captio, Tiendeo, Redbooth and Mailtrack.

Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial and Juan Rodríguez, CEO at Camaloon speak with Jesús Monleón about his experiences and learnings and his advice for fellow entrepreneurs. Listen to our podcast on Youtube, iTunes or iVoox.


Jesús Monleón, how did you start?

I studied Business Administration and when I was at university I was curious about starting my own business. At that time, around 1996, at university we got an Internet connection and as I had started to think about creating a job portal I found out about Infojobs. I saw they were close by so I went and met Iván Martínez and Nacho González-Barros at the university campus in Cerdanyola.

Later I started working in the financial sector, but I quickly realized that this was not for me so I left and decided to create a business with my cousins.

This is when emagister.com — a search site for classes — was born in 1999.

Why emagister?

I thought to myself “If Infojobs went well, what I can do that is related?” At that time there were a lot of educational offers in the newspaper and everybody was already talking about how Internet was going to change education.

The first thing I thought was that to start out we need a team and so I gathered my cousins: I was the oldest with 22 years and then there were my cousin Juán Ramón, who was an engineer, another cousin Jordi Castellò had studied economics and Monica joined us in administration / finance.

We already knew each other, we even had created an ice cream kiosk at High School together.

We found our first investor and now really had to think about how to get this started. That’s when I remembered Grupo Intercom and called them up. And we set out to work. Our expectations were far from reality: In the first year we made 600 Euro in revenue, our prevision was of 6 Million Euro.

We had traffic, we knew that people were confirming classes through emagister but we hadn’t yet figured out how to monetize it.

Thousand of tests later, we still had no business model and we had given ourselves a year to get this working. Through an outside input to change our contact forms and ways to connect schools & students, we switched to a model based on leads. That’s when emagister takes off. We had traffic, a working business model and very few competitors. This was the beginning in 2001.

What did you do after emagister?

From my experience at emagister I saw that being part of a startup was tough and my impression at that time was that Internet was a bluff, entrepreneurship was shit, and only investors are winning.

So I went into the financial sector to make some money. I moved on to La Caixa’s Venture Capital department. With a team of four people we were searching for Catalan operations for the bank. I got tired after a while and needed some more action. I was part of the start of the bank’s Venture Capital department for entrepreneurs — a very interesting experience with very good investments — and decided to start again. That’s when I met the Trovit team and joined them.

At Trovit everybody was very techy, we were making money with adsense, my role lay in business development. First we sold Banners and then set up a pay per click system. I built up our commercial team.

Trovit went very well. It’s a good business. A company generating EBITDA.

*laughing*

As an entrepreneur but also from the other side as investor I have learned that investors are not my friends. As an entrepreneur I want to drive the company, drive the bus and want the investor to join the journey, to hop on the bus but not to interfere with me driving.

I don’t like to depend on investors. Investors are not your friends.

Years later I founded Seedrocket, as something I would have like to have when I started out with emagister. Seedrocket is an association without profit focus, we are a group of friends who have known each other for a long time and work together.

I was looking for people who could help me with their experience and place . a minority investment.

In 2007 I met Vicente Arias from Softonic, Grupo Intercom, and we talked about creating an incubator or investment fund. We were looking at YCombinator and Seedcamp models, just when YCombinator was starting out in the US. So we invested small amounts of money, 20.000 Euro, in three projects, offered offices and mentorship. I was looking for people who have had experiences creating companies, sharing what they have learned not in technical terms but more about relationships with cofunders, investors…somebody who has gone through the same as the entrepreneur.

The accelerator business model is really hard and I saw it would lead me to do things i was not fond of like selling to big corporates. So we are just a club of friends.

Follow the rest of his story and reflections in the podcast:

And today, what is your day to day life like?

I am spending my day on the phone. Basically spending my time on Seedrocket for founders fund, talking to entrepreneurs all day and to my own small investments. Spending my time talking to the different business.

Today I live off my own investments. It started out as ahobby and evolved into investments who have brought high returns.

As an entrepreneur, what do you recommend? How to start a technological project?

First thing, find a team. And then, launch.

Find the best team. This does not have to be a guru, nor the most experienced person but good people.

How do you define good people?

There are people with a certain talent and attitude.

I don’t mean technological capacities — Especially if the founding team are able to gather smart people around them and give less experienced people the chance to learn. This was amazing at Offerum, the team was growing with the company. When you are 23 years old, you don’t have any experience, everything you do is for the first time, but some people have a certain talent, a capacity that can be build out.

The hardest is finding good people. And there is no manual. And what is ‘good’ is hard to define.

Even talking to professional investors, the topic of good people has no answer. I think it boils down to ‘perception’, the perception you have of the person.

What is the last investment that you are crazy about?

Tuvalum — a bike marketplace.I like it because it combines SEO and a marketplace, of demand and offer, which gives room to arbitrage. It’s a very interesting project now and I believe it’s replicable internationally. In 3 years I have no idea how I will see it, this is pretty random but at the moment I really like it.


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Jesús Monleón and emagister’s journey. 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.

How important is networking for your startup? (Isn’t hard work enough?)

Some of our hard-working people at itnig.

If you’re running a startup, or working in one, you probably know how much work it takes to build a brand new product from scratch. It’s not unlikely that you’re reading this post by your desk at 10pm, just because you needed a break from your sweaty keyboard.

But no matter how much and how hard you work, it’s not enough. At least that’s what some experts claim.

Most humans are social creatures, and even though the tech world is built by developers (not famous for being super keen on networking), the startup industry arranges more networking events than most other industries.

In Barcelona you can go to several events every night if you have time.

Is hard work enough?

As I’ve worked as a journalist, meeting founders and entrepreneurs every week the last year, I’ve been asking several of them why I haven’t seen them at tech events before?

The answer is usually:

“We’re busy working, I don’t have time to attend events and drink beers several times every week.”

It’s a valid point. Nine out of ten startups fail, so working day and night makes perfect sense.

I went to cover a startup competition for a major European tech blog earlier this year. After tough competition between some of Spain’s best performing startups, one of them were crowned the winner. Me and my college were surprised that we hadn’t heard of the company before, and asked them how they went beneath our radar. The founders told us:

“We usually never go to events. We actually signed up for this competition almost by accident.”

This made me wonder how many other great startups go under the radar, missing out on important exposure because they’re too busy working (too hard?).

Another example is the founder of Tradesy’s, Tracy DiNunzio, who says she thinks too many founders are wasting time going to tech events:

When I was bootstrapping through Tradesy’s first two years, I never attended events. Instead, I stayed focused (obsessed, really) on improving our product and technology. I was glued to the computer for 17 hours a day.

Building a network

It’s clear that networking is important, but it’s probably also true that many entrepreneurs would benefit more from working, than from sipping beer at tech events every other night.

To some people networking is the most natural thing to do, the ones that have the gift of speaking to anyone, anywhere about anything (or nothing). To them it’s like breathing.

For others it’s more about building a network, doing a job, rather than talking to a massive amount of people. And to some people, a small group, it’s torture.

But no matter what group you belong to, as long as your startup is being built, you’re the product. Before you have users, customers, a physical product, or any metrics at all, you and your team are the only thing representing your startup.

Connections are key, and good advice are extremely valuable, especially from people with experience from your own industry. But tech connections are not necessarily found through going to events.

It’s about being present, and especially talking to the right people. It does not have to be at tech events, but any place you can meet people caring about the product your startup is building.

Connecting to people via mail (or social media etc.) can be just as good as going to an event. Mark Suster made a good Snapstorm on how to send email intros, because there are mistakes to be made.

To sum it up:

Growing a solid network of people in your startup ecosystem can never go wrong, not to think about the vital support you can provide to other entrepreneurs building their respective upstarts.

But hard work is still as crucial as it always has been. Just because there is an event every night with great headliners and interesting topics, does not mean you have to attend.

Tech events are often a blast, and networking is good, but not for the sake of networking itself. Going to events will rarely create more value than a well-functioning team can accomplish in the same amount of time.

However building a network and providing value for your ecosystem is guaranteed to benefit both you and your startup. Just don’t do it on the expense of your startup.

…….

This post is written by Sindre Hopland, Media Manager at itnig.

Legal Issues When Starting a Business in Spain

Spain has become a very interesting place for foreigners to establish their businesses. They can find a solid entrepreneurial ecosystem, skilled partners and workers, and nice weather. All these elements are attractive enough to start an entrepreneurial adventure.

In this article we are going to outline some of the basic requirements that everyone should have in mind when starting a business in Spain.

Legal Structure

In Spain there are two main ways to structure a business: the first one is to work as a Freelancer (Autónomo), and the second one is to incorporate a Spanish Limited Company (Sociedad Limitada).

Identification

First of all, any foreigner interested in starting a business in Spain, either as a freelancer or through a Spanish Company, shall have a foreign identification number (NIE).

Freelance (Autónomo)

To be an Autónomo means to begin a business as a self employed person. There are two steps to become an Autónomo; first of all you have to notify to the Spanish Tax Administration (Agencia Tributaria) that you are going to start an economic activity, and then you should register to the regime of self employed persons in the Social Security (Seguridad Social), with a notification validated by the Tax Administration.

Once you are registered in the Social Security, you will have to pay a monthly fee, being the base fee 256,72 euros. However, current reductions for new Autónomos have recently being approved by the government, including the following features:

For new Autónomos under 30 years old the following reductions will apply:

  • An 80% Social Security fee reduction during the first 6 months. (50 euros approximately);
  • A 50% Social Security fee reduction during the next 6 months after the previous period of time;
  • A 30% Social Security fee reduction during the next 18 months after the previous period of time.

For new Autónomos with 30 years old or over the following reductions will apply:

  • An 80% Social Security fee reduction during the first 6 months. (50 euros approximately);
  • A 50% Social Security fee reduction during the next 6 months after the previous period of time;
  • A 30% Social Security fee reduction during the next 6 months after the previous period of time.

Furthermore, an Autónomo must comply with several tax obligations, mainly to present its quarterly declarations of taxes relating VAT and Retentions made by other professionals.

Spanish Limited Company

A Limited Company is the legal structure most used in Spain to start a company. As stated above, it is necessary to hold a NIE to become a shareholder of a Company.

The main steps to incorporate a Limited Company are as follow:

  1. First of all, it is necessary to obtain the Name of the Company through a Certificate issued by the Companies Registry (Registro Mercantil).
  2. The next step is to open a bank account and to deposit the minimum share capital to incorporate a Limited Company, which is 3.000 euros. The Bank will issue a Certificate of deposit that shall be presented at a Public Notary.
  3. Both Certificates are necessary to incorporate the Limited Company before a Public Notary. All the shareholders will have to be present and sign the deed and the Articles of Associations of the Company.
  4. After signing the deed, it will be necessary to obtain the Tax Identification Number of the Company (NIF = Número de Identificación Fiscal).
  5. Finally, the incorporation of the Company will have to be registered at the Companies Registry, and the beginning of the activity shall be notified to the Tax Administration.

It is important to add that it’s necessary to appoint a Director of the Company, and that the person occupying this role will have to be registered at the Social Security as an employee or as a self employed person (Autónomo) if he or she is a shareholder of the Company with 25% or more of the share capital.

I hope that this article has served its purpose of being a general guideline to evaluate the different options that any person has prior to start a business in Spain. We support the entrepreneurial initiative and encourage any person to follow its goals.

If you have further questions or any doubts regarding initiating your project, feel free to contact us at i[email protected]

Pablo Mancía
Lawyer
www.delvy.es