Where Entrepreneurial Excitement Never Ends: Barcelona

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Are you considering launching your startup in the most exciting city in Southern Europe? Discover what Barcelona can offer to your startup in this practical city guide!

Barcelona is internationally well-known for its great climate, incredible beaches, stunning architecture, delicious tapas and its successful football team. But what you might not know is that Barcelona has a dynamic startup ecosystem.

Barcelona has set out to establish itself as a tech startup hub with more than 200 active digital startups in mobile, e-commerce, gaming or B2B. Also known as the Mobile World Capital, Barcelona is home to many successful companies such as Privalia, Edreams or Softonic.
Barcelona may lack the entrepreneurial maturity of London or the Silicon Valley, but its entrepreneurial community is growing at a fast rate. Many initiatives are flourishing to give support to startups: incubators, accelerators, coworking spaces and investment opportunities are on the rise. Barcelona has even transformed a former industrial area in the city into an innovation district to accommodate the growing startup scene. In addition, this cosmopolitan city is home to many universities and top ranked business schools (IESE, ESADE) providing a large pool of highly skilled workers. If you are looking for a great quality of life and a dynamic startup ecosystem, this city is for you!

The Capitol Of Catalonia

Advantages Of Starting Up In Barcelona:

  • International airport hub with low-cost airlines.
  • High-skilled workforce available.
  • Mediterranean climate with 2.400 hours of sun per year.
  • Extensive, modern and reliable transport system.
  • Low cost of life.
  • Big international community.
  • Excellent medical coverage is available to locals and foreigners.
  • A growing community of entrepreneurs.

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • English is not widely spoken.
  • Bureaucracy is not super friendly.
  • Political uncertainty (Catalan independence).
  • Taxes: 21% of VAT, 19% of personal income tax, and 25% for companies.
  • Catalan can be intimidating, but Barcelonians are very friendly with foreigners!
  • All your friends will come visit you, so having a couch can be a good idea!

With over 3 million inhabitants, Barcelona is a medium-sized city that has everything you need. Culture, great restaurants, the Pyrenees a couple of hours away and relaxed atmosphere. The main drawback is probably bureaucracy, but Barcelona Activa is doing a great job offering support and information. And to be honest, where else could you start your day with a jog on the beach, have a delicious and nicely priced coffee in between your meetings, and end the day with a cool beer at a terrace?

1. Experience The Startup Scene In Barcelona

Barcelona_guide_community

Barcelona has a very friendly ecosystem of entrepreneurs. The startup community has room for greater integration and consolidation, but there are many initiatives working towards this goal. Get in touch with enthusiastic like-minded people in one of the following events:

Regular Events And Meetups:

  • Startup grind: A fun and dynamic networking event that hosts a speaker with an open mic every month. Powered by Google to inspire and connect entrepreneurs.
  • UP Barcelona connects entrepreneurs and organizes cool events such as Startup Weekends.
  • Barcelona Activa is an organization with the objective to promote the economic growth in Barcelona. They offer a large selection of free courses and programmes to help entrepreneurs. If you are looking for information about specific legal procedures, they also offer personalized support.
  • Local meetup groups for startups, freelancers, e-commerce, career coaching are very active and probably one of the best resources for networking opportunities or making new friends.
  • Barcinno is a community driven platform that shares very interesting news about everything related to startups. Oh! And it’s in English! You can also find tech resources and events coming up.
  • Barcelona loves entrepreneurs is a platform that connects entrepreneurs and shares resources to help your startup in Barcelona.
  • Fuck up Nights in Barcelona is a fun and inspiring event where you can learn from other people’s mistakes and network with beer in hand.
  • Career Revolution is an organization that hosts events about career change and entrepreneurship. They offer talks and workshops using coaching tools & techniques.
  • Silicon DrinkAbout is a weekly after work meetup for startups, tech and beer lovers!

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

  • Mobile World Congress is THE annual gathering for the mobile industry and other related industries. With more than 90.000 attendees, it is a world-class exhibition not to be missed.
  • 4YFN is a business platform for the global tech startup community in Barcelona. Great for events and networking.
  • Smart City world Congress is a leading congress in smart solutions held every year.
  • Biz Barcelona offers support to startups, freelancers and SMEs. Holds quality events that are worth checking out, especially the yearly event BizEmprèn.

2. Enhance Your Productivity One Of Barcelona’s Co-working Spaces

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Barcelona is on the verge of becoming the city with the highest co-working space density in the world. Due to high unemployment rates, shared workplaces have emerged all around the city. Barcelona offers many consolidated co-working spaces and new ones are popping up like mushrooms. According to local representatives more than 100 coworking spaces are already in operation. With the diversity of sizes and locations, you can be sure to find the right place for you. The monthly average cost for a private desk is 200€. Different membership packages are available and cater to different needs: teams, hourly, part time and even night time!

  • StartUs, Cowocat and Co-working Spain are platforms that gather a list of more than 25 co-working spaces in Barcelona.
  • Betahaus is located in the Gràcia neighbourhood and is one of the largest co-working spaces in the city. It occupies a six-floor converted warehouse and has an amazing panoramic rooftop. Has recently been voted as the number 1 co-working space in Barcelona.
  • MOB, Makers of Barcelona, have spacious and affordable co-working spaces. They even have hourly and daily options for those of you who have just landed in Barcelona.
  • If you are looking for a modern co-working space with affordable prices, 021Coworking is a great option in the Poblenou neighbourhood.
  • Right next to las Ramblas, Pipoca is a fun and dynamic co-working option.
  • Talent Garden offers creative spaces for digital professionals and hosts frequent events and activities. Has a night-time membership package for those of you who are more creative once the sun has set.
  • MeetBcn offers beautifully designed co-working spaces in a central location.
  • For social entrepreneurs, Impact Hub presents flexible membership packages and a global network of entrepreneurs.
  • For larger private spaces to work, check out Barcelona Co-working.
  • La Fabrica22, Coworking Platon, BCN575, Start2Bee and Crec are great co-working options in other neighbourhoods in the city.
  • If co-working is not what you are looking for and you want to rent an office space, check out Idealista.

3. Look For Budget Securing Chances In Barcelona

Barcelona-_guide_financing.

You might think that the economic crisis in Spain has scared off investors, but Barcelona offers many resources to find investment throughout the different stages of your startup. Have your pick!

Incubators:

  • Barcelona Activa offers several incubator programs for innovative startups such as Almogàvers Business Factory (private-public collaborative model) and Glòries Entrepreneurship Centre (public). They both provide consulting services and office space.
  • Incubio was founded in the Silicon Valley and now operates in Barcelona. Specializes in projects offering business-processes as a service. Incubio provides financial support and guidance from concept development to private investments.
  • Inlea Foundation is an incubator and an accelerator for tech startups. They offer extensive growth programs and quality mentorship.
  • La Salle Technova is an innovative tech incubator that helps entrepreneurs develop their business proposal. Their business support program covers funding, technology development, training and co-working space.
  • GrupoNat is an incubator for startups in the Internet sector.

Accelerators:

  • Mstartup Barcelona is the first space of the city that hosts various acceleration programs aimed at entrepreneurs and startups in the mobile sector. It is an initiative promoted by Barcelona Activa and the Mobile World Capital Foundation. Offers free co-working space. They currently gather 4 accelerators that offer high-quality accelerator programmes with funding and mentoring.
    • Gamebcn is the first videogame incubator in Southern Europe.
    • Startupbootcamp is a pan-European accelerator with a proven record and with top notch mentors and partners.
    • Impact Accelerator is an accelerator focusing on Mobile Internet.
    • Connector offers one of the most revolutionized and complete extensive programs.
  • SeedRocket provides quality mentorship and investment to high-growth potential startups of the Internet sector at a seed stage.
  • Wayra is a part of the Telefonica Group and offers funding, workspace and training for digital startups. Wayra offers incomparable support through some of the best mentorship programs.
  • Creative Hot House invests in developers and supports them to develop apps that will revolutionize technology. CHH is the first European Seed Fund developing real software with entrepreneurs in-house and taking products to market in Southeast Asia.
  • ITNIG is an internet business accelerator that offers quality resources to startups: mentoring, access to funding, office spaces and legal support.
  • H2Aventures is an accelerator for businesses that create sustainable value. Their support covers different aspects such as strategy, financing, or business development.
  • SetupMedia offers a comprehensive program that covers funding, technology development, marketing and commercial strategies, and mentoring.
  • Intelectium is a tech startup accelerator that focuses on designing investment strategies with Angel investors and VC.
  • Esade Creapolis is an accelerator for innovative and tech startups. They offer office space and access to the business angels network Esade Ban.
  • Prometheus is Reimagine Food’s acceleration program that focuses on helping food & tech startups access customers and investors.
  • Ship2B is a foundation that offers support to high-impact social innovation startups and connects them to their investors community.
  • BibaHub accelerates technology-based startups with an industrial focus.
  • The Founder Institute offers a comprehensive program to help you launch and grow your startup. They organize talks and workshops to give support to startups in every step of the wat. Their mission is to globalize Silicon Valley and build a sustainable startup ecosystem worldwide.

Grants And Subventions:

  • Acció is an agency of the Catalan government that offers different programs to promote innovation, internationalization and investment in Catalonia. You can find a list of regional grants and subventions.
  • Ipyme lists all national grants for startups and SME in Spain.

Crowd Investing Platforms:

Equity Based Crowdfunding:

  • The internationally known crowdfunding platform have also landed in Spain: Crowdcube.
  • Socios inversores is the number one equity crowdfunding platform in Spain. Its business model is based on promoting entrepreneurial projects to investors. It boasts a large network of venture capital companies and private investors.
  • The Crowd Angel is an equity crowdfunding company based on their business angels network. They analyse and filter tech projects with great potential. They offer financial and legal support for startups in pre-seed or seed stage.
  • Mynbest offers a wide range of complementary services to support both investors and entrepreneurs during the entire process.

Reward Based Crowdfunding:

  • Seedandclick is a reward and donation based crowdfunding. Also offers a network of angel investors from different countries.
  • Verkami is the most popular reward-based crowdfunding platform with over 3000 successful projects.
  • Goteo is a platform of reward-based crowdfunding for social, cultural, technological and educational projects.
  • Indiegogo and Kickstarter are now legal in Spain.
  • Megafounder is the funding platform where Kickstarter creators take their products to the next level with support from the community. Only for established projects and companies. There is no fundraising deadline.
  • Safari Crowdfunding is specialized in tech, social and science projects.
  • TotSuma, Kuabol, Ulule and Lanzanos are crowdfunding platforms for creative, cultural, artistic and social projects.

Angel Investors:

  • Carlos Blanco has invested in 20 startups in 2015 and is the founder of the accelerator Connector. He is one of the most well-known business angels in the city.
  • Vicente Arias is a business angel that has co-founded Offerum and founded the accelerator Seed Rocket.
  • Esade Ban is a business angel network promoted by ESADE Alumni’s Entrepreneurs and Investors Club.
  • First Tuesday BAN is the first business angel network for digital startups. They also offer online crowdfunding and analyze between 70 to 80 projects every month.
  • IESE BAN is a business angel network created by this well-known business school. Since 2003, more than 100 startups have found investment at this platform.
  • BCN Business Angel represents more than 40 private investors in Barcelona. They connect investors with startups and their average investment ranges between 300.000€ and 1.500.000€.
  • Sitka Capital has become one of the leading investors in early stage companies reaching second place in the ranking of micro VC in Spain. Seed and Early Stage Venture Investments for Internet startups with innovative business models.
  • Keiretsu Forum is an international investment community of accredited private equity investors, venture capitalists and corporate/institutional investors. The community is strengthened through its involvement in social and charitable activities.
  • AEBAN is the Spanish Organisation that connects Business Angels Networks and BANcat is the equivalent in Catalunya.
  • In this blog post you can find a list of the top 14 business angels in Spain.

Venture Capital Investors:

  • 101 startups is an investment fund that invests in mobile apps and internet startups.
  • Active Venture Partners is a vibrant VC firm that provides investment and guidance to entrepreneurs.
  • Antai Venture Partners is an international online and mobile venture builder. They help startups to expand in other markets and provide thorough support.
  • Ariol Capital is a private equity firm that makes long-term investments in established packaging companies in the middle market.
  • Flint Capital is an international venture capital fund investing across US, Israel and Europe. Their focus is on Mobile, Software, Financial and Educational Technologies as well as Security and Enterprise sectors.
  • Galdana Ventures is the first fund-of-funds specialised in global venture capital that enables institutional and private investors in Spain and Latin America to access the top venture capital funds.
  • Idodi Venture Capital is a Spanish and Irish independent firm that invests in technology startups in the early stages.
  • Inveready is one of the leading early-stage venture capital companies in Spain with five investment funds.
  • Lanta Digital Ventures is an early stage VC fund focused on Internet, Technology, Mobile and Healthcare startups.
  • Nauta Capital is a venture capital firm investing in B2B Software propositions.
  • Nero Ventures is a venture capital fund investing in growth stages of service companies with a technological base.
  • SI Capital is a private equity firm focused on the growth opportunity in environmental markets. They operate in Spain and the UK.
  • Ysios Capital provides private equity financing to early and mid-stage human healthcare and life science companies.

Other Investment Opportunities:

  • Barcelona Ventures aims to help European tech companies to grow in the U.S. market and get funding from Silicon Valley investors.
  • Lánzame Capital is a pledge fund where investors can invest in a portfolio of startups.
  • Bstartup is an initiative of Banc Sabadell, a spanish bank that offers financing to digital startups and a support programme.
  • Caixa Capital Risc is the venture capital of La Caixa Bank. They provide equity and convertible loans to innovative companies in their early stages.

4. Seek For The Best Advisers In Barcelona

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If you are looking for more advice on how to set-up your business in Barcelona, I recommend you to go to Barcelona Activa, an organisation that provides free resources to help entrepreneurs turn their business ideas into reality. You can also explore Barcelona’s startup community on a Map. Pretty cool huh? Add your startup on the map of innovation: Barcelona Startup Map.

Other resources that might help you navigate in the startup ecosystem are Barcinno and BLE which offer information and current articles about the startup scene in Barcelona. Bcn Tech City is an association aiming to consolidate the digital and tech business in Barcelona. They can be a good opportunity for networking and promoting your business. Looking for a place to enhance your IT skills? Cibernàrium is the program for IT skills acquisition and diffusion of Barcelona Activa – the City Council of Barcelona. It offers training for professionals and companies.

Barcelona might not have many regular events, but you will find unique and exciting events if you follow co-working spaces, incubators or accelerators. There are also active Facebook communities where you can find opportunities for freelancers and startup jobs, such as here. Eventbrite is also a great option to follow upcoming events.

Good luck on your entrepreneurial adventure and Benvingut a Barcelona!

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Last updated: August 25th, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

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