No big changes in the Spanish VC funding landscape

I just published this on K Fund’s blog. It’s an analysis of Spanish tech investment activity in 2016, using data from Dealroom, Tech.eu and also some that I’ve been collecting since 2013.

The main conclusion I can draw from this is that not much has changed in 2016 compared to the previous year, when investment levels hit an all-time high in Spain, reaching €543 million. The number of deals continues to grow, which is good news, and late stage rounds are still very few (Cabify was the only round bigger than €100 million in 2016).

What I think is really interesting is the fact that we’re seeing more and more Series A rounds (those between €1 million and €10 million) in Spain, which also coincides with an increasing number of VC firms raising capital to fund those companies.

As I wrote on K Fund’s blog, I think the data sample we have is still too small to draw big conclusions. A big round can heavily impact the analysis and lead to wrong conclusions, and that’s what I’m trying to avoid for the moment.

A product methodology of one’s own

ux spain This is a guest post by Christopher GrantUX & Product Director at King Games. 

Christopher has led multidisciplinary product teams for over a decade. Today at King, the makers of Candy Crush, his team is building the network-level experience for hundreds of millions of players using everything from native and web features to social media and push messaging. Previously, he led key strategic projects at innovative startups like Tuenti, Sclipo and Emagister.

Confession: I’m not a “methodology guy” by nature. Maybe it’s the chronic autodidact in me, the one who’s got enough gray in his beard to remember a time before you could get a Masters in UX or people spent their time discussing the V in MVP. Whatever the reason, I’m almost always skeptical of doing anything by the book.

Lately, however, people keep asking me about the “methodology” I use with my teams, the process we use to go all the way from ideation to a prioritized backlog. And, despite my process skepticism, I found myself wondering “do I have a  process?”

After lots of soul searching during my long flights up North, it turns out the answer is “yes”: even this old skeptic has a set of steps he likes to use. Sure, the order may vary and, like my personal experience, it’s a strange combination of ideas taken from different sources and woven together over the years, each feature launched adding a stitch. Although I can’t guarantee this process will work for you or your product, I can tell you that it was developed the hard way, through trial and error, and that it works (most of the time) for me. Continue reading “A product methodology of one’s own”

Google Launchpad: MarketinCloud – pricing for digital products & services

google launchpad

Setting the right price for a startup’s product or service is often one of the hardest tasks early-stage entrepreneurs face. In one recent edition of Google Launchpad, a Córdoba-based SaaS company named MarketinCloud faced this very same challenge.

As a software business for the retail -and often non-digital- industry, the company found a problem in agreeing on the right pricing strategy for its product.

Given the fact that pricing is a recurring problem amongst startups, we used MarketinCloud’s example to take an in-depth approach to software pricing, resulting in the following Google Launchpad case study:

Marketincloud Google Launchpad by jaimenovoa on Scribd

You can read all our other Launchpad case studies here.

Disclaimer: These case studies do not aim to provide a definitive guide for solving a problem, but rather to provide a glimpse into how taking a week to rethink your startup with the help of highly qualified mentors can offer companies a fresh perspective on their struggles and missed opportunities. This was a paid project and Google covered the expenses associated with the production of these reports.  

Protectionism and critical thinking in the Spanish technology industry

Something interesting happened this week.

El Confidencial wrote an article involving La Nevera Roja’s co-founder and one of its investors, who apparently are being sued by the former girlfriend of the latter.

I have nothing bad to say about Iñigo Juantegui, La Nevera Roja’s co-founder. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’ve talked to him several times while he was at the food delivery company and also more recently, as CEO of OnTruck. I have massive respect for him and what he’s accomplished. He’s always treated me well and we’ve had interesting conversations about his previous business and what he’s building right now.

I also don’t have any additional information about the topic covered by El Confidencial, and I’ve been public before about the way they treat some tech-related information as a media entity. I truly believe that we only know one side of the story and there’s probably a lot more to it.

But I do find it interesting that the news received very little attention by those in the Spanish technology ecosystem. The article was probably read by many in the industry, but very few openly talked about it and even fewer decided to share the story on social media.

Had the article not involved a fellow colleague but a politician, football player or celebrity, I’m sure the reaction by the community would have been much different.

Instead, what I saw was a deep silence only broken by the tweets of a few journalists and a handful of entrepreneurs and investors. Everybody else remained quiet.

Maybe this behaviour was the consequence of many people truly believing that people are not guilty until proven otherwise. That’s the way it should be in ALL cases.

But I still have the feeling that if a similar case arose involving a politician, the outcome and the reactions would be different.

What happened -or didn’t happen- this week, might be a natural reaction in what truly is a tight-knit community where everybody knows each other and everybody wants so save face. As the week passed by, I waited and looked for public reactions about the topic, but I didn’t find many.

This coincided with several conversations I’ve had in the past few weeks about the role media plays -and should play- in the Spanish technology industry, where critical thinking is not often welcomed despite the positive aspects it can bring to the table.

To this day, I believe there still remains a significant lack of open conversations that are critical with the ecosystem, and those critical voices are often rejected and described as, simply, haters.

This reminded me of an email I once received by an investor as a result of an article I published on this very same site.

I understand that you are in the news business. What I would like to know is, if your intention is to help founders and the startup ecosystem to grow and succeed and write stories about this, or if you will produce sensational stories that can hurt people, companies and the startup ecosystem?

To this day, I still think that the role media plays and should play in the Spanish tech industry is not well understood by most of the players in the ecosystem. I hope one day it will be, and that critical thinking will somewhat replace the protectionism that’s often seen in our country.

Update:

I should have mentioned one important thing that Javier Escribano mentions in the comments and that I totally agree with. The average quality of content produced in Spanish tech media is, in my opinion, fairly poor, and this doesn’t help build trust between all ecosystem players. I will write about this in the near future.

 

The acquisition of Euskadi-based Erle Robotics, and interviews with Carlos Blanco and Jose del Barrio

–> Acutronic acquired Euskadi-based robotics tech startup Erle. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Erle’s current team will continue leading the company. If you want to know more about Erle, read the recap that Víctor and David Mayoral published on Medium: “How two brothers turned a 3K€ robotics startup into a multi-million Euro company”

–> Uber launched a service for the enterprise in Madrid, starting with Bemate.

–> Cinco Días interviewed Carlos Blanco about corporate startup accelerators. In the interview Blanco announced that Conector will launch a new program in Galicia “very soon”.

–> In-depth interview with Jose del Barrio of Samaipata Ventures.

–> Tesla chose Barcelona to open its headquarters in the Iberian Peninsula.

–> Gonzalo Ruiz (Canguro Rico) published an interesting review of Tendenzias Media SL, one of the first Spanish blog networks that’s still alive and kicking.

OnTruck raises €2 million from Point Nine Capital, LocalGlobe and Samaipata

  • Madrid-based Freight delivery startup OnTruck announced a €2 million round from Point Nine Capital (one of the first investors in Typeform), LocalGlobe (a London-based firm co-founded by Saul and Robin Klein) and Samaipata Ventures.

OnTruck is currently active in Madrid and Barcelona and plans to expand to other Spanish cities in coming months, as well as Germany and the UK. The company is led by Antonio Lu and Inigo Juantegui, the latter the co-founder of La Nevera Roja. This is LocalGlobe’s second investment in a Spanish startup, following its previous deal in TravelPerk.

  • Today was a slow news day in Spain, so just one additional link: Spanish taxi drivers are working on app to compete with the likes of Uber, MyTaxi or Cabify. Too little too late.

 

New capital allocation by Fond-ICO, BBVA invests in insurtech and Conector Barcelona’s latest batch

  • Jobs marketplace startup beWanted raised €600,000 from business angels. It’s not by any means the first Spanish company with the objective of making finding jobs easier, but the company claims to differentiate itself by focusing on entry level positions and internships.
  • Propel Venture Partners, the fund which counts BBVA as its main LP, led a €13 million Series B round in US-based company benefits startup Hixme.
  • Fond-ICO announced the results of it’s 9th call for applications. JME Ventures, Inveready and SeedRocket’s new investment vehicle will receive public money from the institution.
  • Interview with HundredRooms CEO Juan Luis Martínez. Hundredrooms is one of the bigger Spanish metasearch engines for apartment rentals, along with Apartum.
  • MasMovil to postpone its listing on the Spanish Stock Exchange. It currently floats on the MAB.
  • Azahara García is Crowdcube’s new COO in Spain.
  • El Confidencial looks at energy and battery systems for the home that will soon be available in Spain: Tesla, Nissan and Solar Rocket.
  • Spain’s AVE trains will start offering WiFi on November 3rd. This feature will be temporarily limited to trains connecting Madrid and Sevilla.
  • Spanish police authorities are upset with WhatsApp because it won’t deliver the messages received and sent by Diana Quer the night she disappeared. WhatsApp implemented end-to-end encryption a few months ago, so in theory they don’t have any kind of access to messages exchanged by its users.

Verse’s $8.3 million round, successful Spanish bootstrapped startups and more

  • Barcelona-based mobile payments startup Verse announced an $8.3 million round from Spark Capital, e.ventures and Greycroft Partners. The company, co-founded by 20 year olds Dario Nieuwenhuis, Borja Rossell and Alex Lopera, had previously raised €1.8 million from business angels such as José María Fuster, Adeyemi Ajao and Bernardo Hernández, who recently joined e.ventures as a partner.

Verse allows users to send money to each other, promising instant delivery and a high level of security. The app was built on top of the blockchain and has been downloaded 500,00 times.

Until proven wrong, it’s another app in the mobile payments space and probably won’t be the last. Venmo (today owned by PayPal), Square Cash, Twyp (ING), Bizum and many others provide similar value. It’s a volume game.

  • A FT study suggests that Spanish business schools are better for entrepreneurs than Stanford

 

Spain is the first country to fine BlaBlaCar and other Monday ramblings

As a country, we gotta be the first at doing something. How about sanctioning BlaBlaCar and some of its drivers for ilegally (according to Spanish laws) driving people around? Done.

Just as the company is awaiting a judicial ruling that could force BlaBlaCar to shut down in the country, news leaked that several drivers have received combined fines of up to €16,800 for driving users of the platform without a proper public transportation license while charging them more than €0.19 per km.

As it’s happened with many other technology companies disrupting existing, and regulated, markets, the key to the trial seems to lie in the definition of BlaBlaCar. The company itself claims that it’s just a social network that puts together drivers and users, while Confebus and other traditional bus transportation companies say that, as a proper transportation company, it needs to be regulated in the same way that they are.

The result of the trial will probably come out in a few weeks.

Other news today:

  • I don’t much to add about the whole Ingenius debacle, but El Confidencial has a good summary.
  • Adara VP, a Madrid-based VC firm that tends to invest in pure software businesses, announced late last week a €1.5 million investment in Seedtag. This is Adara’s third investment over the last few months, also featuring 4IQ (Julio Casal’s new startup) and Countercraft.
  • If you have a company that is in any way related to drone technology, you should check out this program in Galicia that has more than €110 million in funding commitments.
  • Martin Varsavsky fertility startup, Prelude, has raised €200 million in funding, according to El País.

 

Spain and the ‘The State of European Tech 2016’

Hey there! Remember me? I haven’t forgotten about Novobrief, it’s just that the first few weeks at K Fund have been pretty hectic. As a journalist, at times you might think you know a lot about the venture business, but once you’re in the inside you realize you’re pretty much clueless about a ton of things. At least that’s my case.

Anyway, my idea is to continue to publish over here on a weekly basis. I miss it. I really do. I obviously won’t be able to do it in the same way as before, because these days I have access to a lot of confidential information that could definitely affect my writing. So yeah, I won’t be breaking any stories or criticising startups and investors alike. However, I do think there’s a lot of stuff I can write about, including the first steps in my investment career. But I’ll leave that for another day.

This evening I’d like to tell you about ‘The State of European Tech 2016‘ a report that a bunch of guys and companies I really appreciate are currently putting together.

Atomico and Slush are behind it, and if you haven’t checked their 2015 edition, you should. My beloved Tech.eu and Dealroom are also pitching in and helping with the report and analysis, so you can be sure that it’s going to be as good as last year’s and probably even better.

However, very few Spanish entrepreneurs and investors have completed the survey. I have done it -but I’m not representative of anything in this case- and it only takes 5 minutes to do it.

If I may, I’d like to encourage my Spanish colleagues to go ahead and complete the survey, because it will help Atomico and the rest of the guys and it will allow them to have a better idea of what’s going on in Spain and the potential of the country’s tech ecosystem. Would you, please?

(Oh, and it’s powered by Barcelona-based Typeform, which has just been chosen by Accel Partners as one of Europe’s top-100 SaaS companies.)