Barcelona: A Hot Startup Scene

An influx of international investment encourages Barcelona’s startups to grow bigger than ever.

Since the economic collapse in 2008, Spanish entrepreneurs, investors, and public administrators have been working incessantly hard to construct a startup environment that will stimulate the Spanish economy and bring it back to and surpassing pre-2008 levels, according to Javier Ulecia, ASCRI chairman and founding partner of Bullnet Capital, a Spanish venture capital firm. Ulecia continued to identify that "Barcelona is very attractive, and the ecosystem is working well there".i

With unemployment incredibly high at 18.9%, as reported in 2016, small business and startups have helped absorb some of the influx of recent graduates that are flowing into the market trying to launch their career. These graduates are coming from public universities, business schools and technical institutes. This is an important factor. These young minds are creating a culture based around digital and socially connected business, and the emergence of such innovative companies is one of the primary indicators of the growing diversity and increasing maturity of Spain’s startup scene.

These energized ambitions are provided support by an expanding system of startup incubators, accountants, lawyers, mentors, and experienced business advisors. Where is the money coming from? Funding networks now include public financing, venture capital, and angel investors.

The 2016 European Digital Index ranked Barcelona in the number nine spot, behind such noteworthy cities as London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Helsinki, and Paris.ii

Which popular startups made their name in Barcelona?

1. Letgo

A free app that helps the user buy and sell gently used items such as cloths to home appliances and furniture. They create "Hollywood" style advertisements that are designed to be shared on the various social media channels today. After being launched in 2005, Letgo raised $100 million in four months from Naspers. The average number of items posted to their application increased 500% from January 2016- May 2016.

2. Typeform

Typeform is a cloud based application that is recreating the way users design and respond to forms and surveys. They do this by making the process more user-friendly and engaging not only for the end consumer but for the designers as well. As the first device-agnostic form solution, Typeform provides creators with the knowledge that the forms they created on a MAC or PC will look exactly the same on a mobile device.

In early 2012, the company was founded by Robert Muñoz & David Okuniev, the experienced businessmen have operated digital agencies specializing in UI/UX and web development.

Tech Crunch reported, "Barcelona-based Typeform has landed a $15 million Series A round of financing. The round — a pretty sizable one for a South European startup — was led by Index Ventures, with participation from existing investors Point Nine Capital, Connect Ventures and RTA Ventures, as well as super angels including Anthony Casalena, CEO of Squarespace; Javier Olivan, CEO of King; and Facebook’s Jay Parikh".iii

3. Mailtrack

In 2013, Nacho Gonzàlez-Barros found himself seeking new clients for his startup when he realized he needed an efficient way to track and organize his email correspondence through Gmail. Mailtrack is a Chrome extension program that deploys the same "double check" concept that Whatsapp uses to confirm the recipient has received the email and then has opened it. In 2014, the company received seed money in the amount of $460,000 from Big-Sur Ventures-Necotlum in Madrid.

4. Smadex

Smadex is a startup that distributes rich mobile advertising for advertising firms operating machine-learning algorithms. They charge for each ad campaign. The company built their own tools. This was made possible by a Spanish angel investor, Cabiedes & Partners, Trovitt and others that financed Smadex with $1.1 million in funding.

5. Kantox

Kantox is a foreign exchange platform that offers transparency, peer-to-peer trading alerts, informing the users the best time to make trades and providing an API to automate transactions. In February 2014, Kantox raised a whopping €6.5 million in investment from the French firm, Partech Ventures, IdInvest and Spanish firm, Cabiedes & Partners.

6. Wallapop

Similar to Letgo, Wallapop is a used-item trading app that emphasizes geolocation to sync buyers and sellers. The company reported 5 million monthly users across various countries from Spain and France to the United Kingdom, the US and Mexico. They are also known to have received $40 million in investments to aid their future growth and expansion to new markets. This funding was provided by Insight Venture Partners, Caixa Capital Risc, Accel Partners and Bonsai.

Entrepreneurial skills are more important than ever before in today’s evolving world. Companies in Spain, Europe and around the globe are pursuing entrepreneurial managers capable of performing various tasks in a global business context. They require individuals who are proficient, able to anticipate, stimulate and manage change.

This is exactly what GBSB Global’s Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program is all about.

The Master of Science in Entrepreneurship from GBSB Global prepares students to be effective entrepreneurs in an international environment, whether it be starting a business or developing an entrepreneurial project within an existing company.

Barcelona is a fascinating, entrepreneurial city. Contrasting the UK, France and even Germany, where capital cities control the majority of activity and investment flows within the country, Spain has the luxury of having two lucrative startup hubs that attract international attention —Barcelona and Madrid, not to mention other significant regions like the Basque country in the north and Valencia just south of Barcelona.

The incentive in Barcelona is that entrepreneurial initiatives are regularly rewarded by local governmental organizations which encourage entrepreneurship as a means for expanding the local economy and attracting foreign investment into the Catalan region.

Written by Emily Dawn Szajda, GBSB Global Content Manager

[i] [ii] Tieman, Ross. 30 November 2016. Spain’s tech start-up scene begins to deliver. Financial Times. Retrieved from
[iii] Lomas, Natasha. 17 September 2015. Typeform Gets $15M To Expand Its API For User Interaction. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from


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