Inside the Spanish startup world: 13 takeaways from the ecosystem

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Inside the Spanish startup world: 13 takeaways from the ecosystem
Trying an IoT device at the 2015 Internet of Things Solutions World Congress in Barcelona Photo: Josep Lago / AFP

Just what is going on in the Spanish startup scene? The Local takes a look.


The Spanish start up scene is thriving as witnessed last week when 12,500 people attended The South Summit in Madrid, one of the biggest start-up networking events in Europe.

The event coincided with the publication of a report by Startups Made in Spain which took a detailed look at the ecosystem through consultation with hundreds of entrepreneurs operating in Spain

The Local takes a look at some of the key points from the Starting up in Spain: The survey 2015

No place for the old

Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of founders are aged between 26 and 45 years old while 50 percent are under 35.

King Felipe VI attended The South Summit in Madrid saying "It is vital to promote the role of entrepreneurs in society"


Just over half (53 percent)  of startup founders in Spain are first time entrepreneurs with the survey showing that one in three startups failed within the first year.


By far the majority of entrepreneurs are educated to at least Masters level, with only 20 percent not having tertiary education. And nearly half (47 percent) have studied business.

English speaking

A whopping 76 percent claim to be fluent or advanced in English.

Skilled workforce waiting to be tapped

Youth unemployment hovers around the 50 percent mark meaning there is a huge resource of well educated young people just longing for the opportunity to get involved in a burgeoning business.

Photo: Liz Fleming / Spain Startup

"There is a lot of available talent in Spain, very highly skilled workers." – Liz Fleming, VP International at Spain Startup

It's a man's world

Only 19 percent are women and no female founders questioned in the survey are under the age of 25 and yet women founders are 16 percent more likely to succeed than their male counterparts

“Business has been traditionally a men's field and maybe that tradition is still remaining in Spain, but it is changing and I think the percentage will increase in the coming years.” - Belén Cruz Zapata, who currently works at Groupon as a mobile software engineer in San Francisco, after the acquisition of her previous company, Swarm Mobile.

Home or abroad?

Only 17 percent of respondents’ businesses focus exclusively on the Spanish market and a huge 37 percent focus entirely on markets beyond Spain’s borders, indicating that Spain is a proving to be a popular place to start a venture even if the desired market exists outside of its borders.

Startups by sector

Data source: Starting up in Spain: The survey 2015 

Startup Hubs

Barcelona has carved out a reputation as the most interesting destination to set up a new company and it undoubtedly is home to the most startups with international founders in Spain. But it is far from the only one.

Madrid has fast become known as the best place to raise capital, while Valencia is proving popular as the best kept startup secret, with lower costs of living and the largest international student exchange body making it a bootstrapper's paradise. 

And don’t overlook Malaga, which with amazing international flight connections and new connector spaces making it a popular alternative.

"We have thought about having teams in Boston in the USA or Brighton in the UK, but we’ll always have our main base here in Malaga." - Luis Hernández, co-founder UpToDown

Photo: UpToDown/Flickr 

Co-working spaces

In 2012 there were 146 co-working spaces, a figure that more than doubled within two years to 388 by 2014.

"Spain has an amazing quality of life, but a smaller market and community than top entrepreneurship hubs. Spain is the place where entrepreneurs live and thrive." - Pierre Auban Waters, Founder of Guiripreneurs.


In Spain the number of accelerators grew from 98 to 414 between 2012 to 2014, when 6.2m was invested in 101 start ups, making Spain number 2 (by acceleration money invested) in the EU.

Data source: Starting up in Spain: The survey 2015 

Investors (both VC and angels) have almost trebled from 210 in 2012 to 604 last year.

Spanish startups raised €192 million in the first half of 2015

"The investment ecosystem in Spain has evolved in the last year from a mostly venture capital dependant one, into a more angel-based scene, with increased capital available at the seed stage" - Javier Megias, Startupxplore


There’s also been a recent change in the law to allow equity crowdfunding, a sector representing only 1.4 percent of total investments in 2014 it now appears set to grow.

Photo: AFP

Starting a business

It costs around €3,000 to register a new business and takes about a month

59 percent of participants felt  there were significant barriers to entry in getting a business off the ground in Spain.

These are just some of the findings included in report produced by Startups Made in Spain.

READ: Starting up in Spain: The survey 2015 



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