On itnig’s Podcast #41 Sacha Michaud, one of the cofounders of Glovo shares his take and experience on the hypergrowth of the Barcelona based delivery startup with us, talks about market about delivery and on-demand user experience. Continue reading “Glovo’s hypergrowth — Podcast #41 with Sacha Michaud”
Albert Domingo between Services & Investment on our Podcast #40
On itnig’s Podcast #40 Albert Domingo, CEO at NexTReT and partner at itnig takes us on a journey through his experiences as business creator but also investor and shares his point of view on project evaluation with us.
Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig and Juan Rodríguez, CEO at Camaloon speak with Albert Domingo about his experiences and learnings and his advice for fellow entrepreneurs. Listen to our podcast on Youtube, iTunes or iVoox.
I would like to start telling the story about how we met Albert, our first investor at itnig. This story is closely linked to my own story as Bernat. While I was studying computer science at university I did a three months internship at NexTReT, a software company from Barcelona, Albert’s company.
I realized this was not for me and later set out to create itnig. When at itnig we decided to start our own business, I knew we needed funding but I had no idea where to go so I thought about my internship and went to see the founder and director, Albert Domingo. During my time as intern I had never met him but with this idea, very far from reality we eventually got to know each other. Albert Domingo told me very nicely that NO, he was not interested in investing but however we improved and improved the business plan and idea and eventually got to partner up.
This company was Camaloon, Albert invested and told people in his network about it and we were able to close a funding round with 12 partners.
One thing that Albert told me will always stay with me. It grounded me:
When I invest, I am sure about one thing: If I loose my capital, the entrepreneur looses his health.
He told me this very seriously, I got scared but more than anything this sentences has marked me. 7 years later his words are still in my mind — His message was very clear. Commitment and dedication are very important for Albert.
Albert, what is your story? What did you study and how did you create NexTReT?
I studied engineering and then worked in two companies, the last one in network solutions. When at this time, I made propositions of improvements I did not get very far. I decided to set out on my own, reached an agreement of 5 years with my university and this helped me get to met really good professionals. In 1993 there was a huge crisis in Spain and I was still able to reach new clients so I thought to myself: ”If I can do this now in this time, imagine what this could mean in a good economic time in Spain.”
This was the beginning of NexTReT. Our first client was Esade, then an ex-professor of mine moved to La Caixa, later we reached an agreement with TV3, and so step by step we reached a good client base offering our services in informatic systems and infrastructure. Our promise to the CEO is that their information technology will work, no matter the time of day.
Progressively the company grew, now we are 12 partners.
When I met people interested in creating their own business, I was always ready to help. Share my own experience. I like to share and to add value. That’s how I started to get involved with entrepreneurs, because I think there can be many things to start businesses. In 1999 I got involved in a project doing my first investment.
I have invested in many occasions but for me the investment is consequence of sharing. The order is: Getting to know somebody, and only when I feel good about somebody and trust this person, and I see that the person is committed (it’s not about leading an unhealthy life) we can take a step further into investing. Commitment is fundamental.
Commitment is fundamental, in all things in life.
If a person is not committed, no problem, but there won’t be an investment from my side. For me the first thing I look for is mutual trust, then I need to believe that I can add value and lastly the entrepreneur has to see me as adding value. However, investment is my hobby. my life and work is NexTReT and investment is my hobby.
You say you look for entrepreneurs who are committed to their businesses and don’t just leave their projects. Do you believe that there are some occasions when you see that it goes no further?
Yes, of course. There are times when it does not make sense to pursue. You need to know how to loose and when to stop. Right now for example I am in a similar situation with a great entrepreneur from Valladolid. I told the kid you need to stop. You gave it your all. You did the possible, we have lost the project and the investment but you need to stop and dedicate your talent to other projects.
There are two Albert Domingo — Albert Domingo from NexTReT and Albert Domingo outside of NexTReT. You say investment is a hobby to you but you dedicate a lot of your time. How do you organize your daily life?
My daily life evolves around NexTReT but of course I always manage my calendar myself. I have my family, my hobbies and organize my life around it.
AT NexTReT we have a General Director, we have a clear organizational structure and the business already works very smoothly. I maintain contact with our clients — that’s where I see my contribution.
What companies are you involved with now?
I don’t need to mention itnig’s startups right? To come back to the beginning of our conversation actually: I don’t remember having told you No but I do remember how we met.
Bernat was a kid who told me he wanted to create a business to sell buttons online. I had never bought buttons but he seemed to be a good kid.
Yes of course I am involved in other companies.The last project for example is a company that automizes vending machines, the decision was very quick, I liked the entrepreneur, it’s an innovative idea and a partner of mine is involved.
What is your advice to an entrepreneur who is looking to talk to you? What are you looking for in a project and in a entrepreneur?
I might not be in line with other business angels but for me, personally, I have a kind of order of what I look for.
First, there needs to be trust, I need to see brilliance in the person, I want to share in the project with other people and lastly I look at the project where I look for potential, a clear market and past accomplishments.
If somebody has a clear idea and wants to share it with me, I am happy to listen. If you look for it you will always find time.
Listen to our podcast to learn more about Albert Domingo’s journey and his perspective on investment and entrepreneurship. 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 #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.
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.
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.
Serial Entrepreneur Nacho Gonzalez Barros sharing his insights from Infojobs, Mailtrack & many more
In this edition, Podcast #32, Jordi Romero talk to Nacho Gonzalez Barros, who is typically introduced as serial entrepreneur, together with Juan Rodriguez, CEO at Camaloon and César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial. Nacho will share his story and experiences of launching and growing different businesses with us. Listen to our podcast on Youtube, iTunes or iVoox.
Nacho, what is your story?
I started in 1995 with one of the first ISP in Spain, called Intercom. I was 19 at that time and it was there that I saw how to start something. I got hooked and dropped out of my telecommunication studies. During this time at Intercom I was also very involved in the hiring process and really loved the part of finding talent. In this time about 100 selection processes went through me at the Intercom Group. This is where in 1997 I saw the opportunity to create Infojobs. We started with a technical co-founder and a business founder.
Actually we have had Albert Feliu and Javier Llorente as guests on our podcast as well!
Ah nice! Yeah, we’re all from the same family.
We spent a lot of years creating a company. Nowadays there is a lot of literature, but when we started out we had to learn as we went along. Infojobs went really well but that was just the start for me. When we sold Infojobs, I saw a new opportunity, the partners at Intercom trusted me and I set out to create Neurona, something like the Spanish LinkedIn, which I later sold to Xing, the German LinkedIn. Next I worked on Niumba, a web of apartments which was sold to Tripadivsor.
These three were the positive experiences but I have created a lot of failures.
There was Lincara — a social media platform focussed solely on the Spanish market. It was a disaster. Tuenti came along and we were not the best at executing. I was unfocused. We copied Friendster’s model but then Facebook came a long. Take a look at myspace and what happened when Facebook came along.
When you start, while trying the MVP, you can do other things but once you have traction you have to be all in, completely focused on the business.
Another example was Amigosfree, free dating site like plenty of fish. It’s the startup that had the most traction but we were missing a full time CEO. Dating creates recurrency, it’s a very attractive sector. And being free when Match and Meetic were paid was also a great advantage but here again the execution failed, I was doing too many things at the same time.
Now I am working on Mailtrack and it’s going very well — it’s a plugin for Gmail that adds a double check when your email has been read in Gmail. When somebody opens your email you are notified that the email has been read. We have 50 thousand customers with recurrent payments and are among the 100 extensions on the Chrome Appstore.
You’ve been working on Mailtrack for 5 years now. How does a product like yours evolve?
You put a pixel in the body of the email but technologically it’s incredibly complicated to create a product inside one of Google’s Apps. It seems really simple but technologically there is a lot of complexity behind it.
When you send an email with Mailtrack you add the statement ‘Sent with Mailtrack’ to the email. What part of growth comes from this virality?
About 45% of our growth is thanks to this virality.
Word of mouth is also important for us. There is a Wow effect upon seeing Mailtrack at work. Even people who are really into technology are surprised by this. It’s a very precise functionality nobody had worked on before.
In your past experiences there are either exits or companies that are closing. Mailtrack is going well but you haven’t sold yet. What is your plan?
The natural evolution is selling the company but we are not actively looking to sell, we are creating revenue. We have 2 million users and recurrent revenue — the most natural is that there is a CRM company in the US who sees this as a feature to their product. Not only valued by revenue and EBITDA but by the potential.
I don’t think of my company as my baby, I am a bit addicted to change.
Yes, so it seems. It seems like every 4 or 5 years you have a new idea.
I am really enjoying working on Mailtrack but the normal thing is that there will be somebody much better than me at scaling the company. I am much stronger at starting things and bringing them to revenues.
Do you do an autoscreening of your ideas?
Every time I am more rational and more of a realist when thinking about starting a project. Not obsessing about the solution but about the problem. Understanding the market, possible customers, talking to them. When I see that there is something that I need, that’s where I start with a project.
Yes, Infojobs was exactly this. I was a recruiter and I was going through 1000 of CVs so I really understood the problem other recruiters had. Now I am starting something related to hiring. I know the problem by heart. I see the problem and can visualize the solution.
I think before even starting to create a MVP you should go out talking to people to see if what you are thinking of is a ‘Must-Have’ or a ‘Nice to have’.
Fall in love with a problem before doing anything.
I think it’s important to recruit people close to you, early adopters, for a brain storming session about this problem and you really need to have a clear business models. There needs to be a clear business and you need to see that there is a space for you out there.
How are you going to start it?
Very cautiously as there is a lot of uncertainty. I am not going to raise capital but set out to better understand the market. Going from company to company to understand how they work, how they do recruitment and see if this solution could fit with their work style.
Listen to our podcast to learn more about Nacho’s plans for the future, how he sees the founder personality and what he thinks about the process of scaling a company. 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.
The Story of How We Became Real Estate Owners
At itnig we strive to host the best talent in Europe. Our startups have attracted skilled and high performing professionals who enjoy working in a place they call home. With growing teams a new space became soon necessary and thus expanded to an additional floor in our same building.
Our new office space has been engineered with the experience of many years of startup hosting and designed for open startups that have different needs at every stage of their development. With a mix of working area, quiet meeting rooms and phone booths and many square meters destined to exchange, relax and fun itnig’s new floor is a great addition to Barcelona’s @22 district.
If you are interested in knowing the whole story of our new space keep on reading! In this article we will take a look at how we came to need more space, how we found the place and how we financed it.
All our startups are growing at such a rapid pace that is seems like every week we are welcoming a new team member and giving him or her a tour of the office.
We had been using the same 600sqm office for the past six years and we had to add to the space two times using available offices on the same floor. It wasn’t bad but not enough if we wanted to keep growing, and we will. So two years ago we started with the search of a new office where we could fit nicely today and in a future, to work concentratedly in the office, to invite people for meetings and conferences and to take calls without disturbing each other.
At itnig one of the most important parts is being able to share what we are doing, what we are learning or struggling with — we see our strength in the collective of different startups and different people. As such, we could not imagine having to split up just because we did no longer fit in one space or having to miss out on the external inputs we are receiving through our co-working area.
I, Meritxell Viladomat, itnig’s office manager was in charge of the search of the new office. We went out on many safaris though Poblenou to find a suitable space, I rang up countless of administrators and owners…until finding out about a company leaving in our same building. We were not the only ones interested and soon enough, two interesting parties started teaming up like allies to bet us out of it (and actually try to rent the same space to us ..). It was time to move quickly! What used to be the showroom and office of an apparel company was being sold. After going downstairs to visit the space several times we decided to go for it and scrambled to get the downpayment together. From the reservation of the space we now had three months to gather the whole sum.
Like a round of finance for one of our startups, we split the value of the office up into different parts and set out to find our investors. Surprisingly — or not? — it was rather easy to convince them of the value of our new office. When before we struggled to have our pitches heard, this time while talking about a building, a physical good, everybody we spoke to was interested.
Every time we pitched, we succeeded. Real estate, no risk, tangible and easily imaginable. That’s what our investors heard.
In only two months we were able to bring more than a million € to the table and so to finance our own floor in a Poblenou building. It was the first time, we wrote our business plan with clear certainties.
We see our office space as a company itself with a clear business plan with income streams and many expenses that needs to be profitable. Like our startups, it’s an investment for the long run — we are thinking ahead many years from now. Not only our startups contribute to the working space we also have a coworking space with more interesting people to learn from and exchange ideas with.
We think startups have 2 missions: To make a great product that satisfies needs and to sell it for a profit. At itnig we allow our startups to focus on this, instead of wasting time and effort on utility bills, reception services and other headaches. Renting an office and all the services apart is quite more expensive and time-consuming than renting in a shared space where there is already a team being in charge of all the office related tasks.
“Itnig puts the infrastructure and each startup or co-working user contributes their share.”
Do you like to work surrounded by smart and fun people in a frenetic environment? Do you enjoy going to the beach after work, learning something new about marketing or technology and going through ideas for your business over lunch? itnig is the place for you — join us in our co-working space in Alaba 61!
The renovation: Design & Work
I am an architect and so planning the re-structuring, getting quotes and negotiating with the contractors came handy to me. Besides a little part that was used as a showroom, the new floor was pretty empty and in its original state. The few walls that were there did not serve us so we tore down everything. A white canvas. A fresh start.
A complicated thing that most external interior designers and architects face is that they do not know the customer. It takes some time and visits for them to get to know what their customer really want and why. All this discovery of needs for the space was already done in our case as I have been in the itnig team for already two years in charge of the office management. I spent two years getting to know the teams and what they think of the office through the Confort office polls that were sent repeatedly every 3 months. If you are curious about the poll answers, showers, free coffee and a terrace were the more demanded features, which at the end, we managed to include in the new offices.
We wanted an open space but at the same time every startup needs to have their closed space to work. The floor we chose had big windows in all its perimeter so we wanted to have the working areas with the natural light and the meeting rooms, bathrooms and kitchen in the middle without direct access to natural light. I went through different proposals still without knowing if we would finally be able to get the money and buy the floor. We thought about a floorplan with a circular design around the meeting room and services nucleus that at the same time would allow us to divide the floorplan into 5 different independent offices in case we would not be able to fill it with our startups.
We didn’t realise how poor our budget was until we started asking different contractors for quotes. As in very project it’s very important to find the right partners whom you can work well with and trust.
All in all the new space is 1.300 square meters big of which 490 square meters are dedicated to common areas: meeting rooms, chill out areas, terrace…
In this relation alone you can see how important exchange is for us here at itnig. For us working means learning, growing and challenging ourselves but also our businesses and we believe that this is best done in company. Each startup has their own corner, their own space to work from, and we come together to compare and contrast. Even though each of us faces a different market, the general logics of customer acquisition, retention and product development are the same and sometimes a new perspective gives unexpected input to push us to the next level.
I have already shared my tips for designing an office for growing teams, so if you are interested in finding out more about how we work together at itnig, check it out, join us for one of our next events or stay tuned to our podcast.