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WORKING IN SPAIN

Nine bright business ideas that haven’t been exploited in Spain yet

Spain has recently approved its Startups Law, so now is certainly a good time to start thinking of businesses that could work in the country. Here are nine niche and uncomplicated ideas that have found success overseas but are still fairly novel in Spain.

spain business ideas
Here are nine great niche business ideas that haven't taken off in Spain yet. Photo: Proxyclick Visitor Management Systems / Unsplash

Spain’s new Startups Law is expected to come into force in December or early 2023, with enticing perks and reduced tax rates for foreign digital nomads, entrepreneurs, investors and remote workers who want to start a business or work in Spain.

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Here are nine business ideas that haven’t yet been overused in Spain and could turn into successful and profitable companies.

Bars for gamers

Spain’s gaming industry made €1.8 billion in profits in 2021, with e-gaming channels now part of TV packages and long queues often forming for the release of new videogames.

But as of yet, there aren’t many bars specifically for gamers in Spain who love to play either video games or board games. That’s in a country with the highest rate of bars per capita in the world and where meeting in a public place is the common societal norm.

Meltdown for example is a French bar chain dedicated to video games and eSports which has been doing well. In Spain, Elite Gaming is the main e-gaming bar franchise, but there is definitely room in the market to create something similar in big and medium-sized Spanish cities.

gaming bar spain

Most gaming bars in Spain are in the bigger cities. (Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP)

Supermarkets that sell unpackaged food

There is a growing but still small number of health food shops in Spain that sell loose food items (alimentos sin envases), which reflects that it’s on trend and there’s more social consciousness among shoppers regarding food and plastic waste. Even the Spanish government is making moves to cut down on food waste, including forcing restaurants to offer doggy bags.

Each person in Spain produces about 600 kilos of waste per year and recycling only manages a tiny fraction of that.

Currently, there isn’t a supermarket chain in Spain focusing on selling unpackaged food and recycling food and packaging.

Original Unverpackt is a successful supermarket in Berlin already doing this, with its zero-waste concept. There are also several of these shops in New York and other cities across the US that have done the same.

A plant kindergarten

Think about it, you have nurseries and babysitters to look after your kids and pet boarding services for your animals, but who looks after your plants when you go away?

Keeping house plants has become a hot trend in recent years and particularly popular among people in Spain’s big cities, most of whom don’t own a garden, so can only keep plants inside or on their balconies. As Spain gets so hot over the summer and people are often away in August for the whole month, there’s definitely a need for a company that can water and look after your plants.

Florists and garden centres in Spain often say that their clients are looking for these types of services.

Plant ownership grew exponentially among Spaniards after the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly among young people. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

Online beard stores

Fifty-five percent of Spanish men have beards. While there are a few specialised beard grooming places in the big cities like Madrid and Barcelona, there have yet to be many products for facial hair here, or even online beard stores when men can get all their needs. 

Think beard oils, brushes, dyes, conditioners and washes. Places such as The Beard Shed, Beard and Bones and the Brighton Beard Company from the UK are all doing particularly well, but there is definitely room in the market for Spanish-based brands too.

A coffee and breakfast delivery service for businesses

Breakfast or more importantly merienda, Spain’s mid-afternoon snack, is a very popular concept in Spain. After a couple of hours of work in the morning, it’s common to head off to a local café for a café con leche and croissant or magdalena. Most offices don’t invest in good coffee machines, so often people have to leave the office to get what they want.

Although there are huge food delivery services in Spain such as Glovo and Just Eats, none specialise in coffee and breakfast snacks for workers.

In the US breakfast and coffee delivery services have become increasingly popular. It’s a cost-effective idea as you don’t need a physical establishment either, you could simply order and collect coffees from different places around the city, such as what GOffee does in New York.

Stag and hen do companies

Stag and hen dos are popular in Spain, but they often involve something simple such as dressing up and going out to a local bar or club. In countries such as the UK, these have become much more elaborate affairs from activities such as cocktail-making classes and spa days to go-karting and even weekends away.

La Pollería, a company selling waffles in the shape of penises or vaginas has become popular in big cities such as Barcelona and Bilbao for stag and hen dos, but there’s scope for a lot more in Spain, including companies that can create themed evenings and help organise activities.

business ideas spain

Places such as Barcelona, Ibiza and Seville are magnets for international bachelor and bachelorette parties. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

A place where you can rent products

Have you ever had that problem where you need something, but only temporarily and you don’t want to fork out big bucks to buy it?

Perhaps you need a drill, but you don’t want to have to buy one and then have it sitting in your house doing nothing. Or maybe you want a steam cleaner to use a few times a year, but again don’t want to buy something you’ll be using so little. A shop where you can rent products instead of buying them hasn’t really taken off in Spain yet, but it could be a great idea and do well here.

One such Spanish company doing this is Grover, where you can rent tech items such as cameras, headphones or smartwatches, but there is still a lot of potential for other companies to branch into different products.  

READ ALSO: Buying a franchise in Spain – the cheapest and best businesses to set up

Pay-as-you-go gyms

Many people only want to go to the gym occasionally and don’t have the time or the motivation to go three or four times per week, even though they’re paying high amounts for the service every month.

This concept puts many people off joining a gym and many worry about the waste of money. What about a gym that you can simply pay for when use it, instead of having to spend high amounts on a subscription?

Hussel, a company in the UK, has done just that and it’s an idea that’s taking off and one that there’s definitely room for in Spain’s €765-million gym industry. 

Back in 2015, The Financial Times already reported how pay-as-you-go gyms were increasing in popularity over longer contracts, and that some new businesses were acting as middlemen, linking users with a range of smaller gyms and studios.

spain business idea

There are around 2,600 gyms in Spain and 4.3 million people signed up as members. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Restaurant subscriptions

Spaniards love to eat out when they get the chance, but what about those who have a busy day at work and don’t have time for a menú del día at lunchtime or are too tired to cook once they arrive home?

Restaurant subscription companies became popular during the pandemic when people couldn’t eat out, but still wanted someone to cook for them.

They have remained popular as the concept is not the same as getting a takeaway, they tend to be more like home-cooked meals you can order on a weekly basis and put in your Tupperware for work.

One such company doing well in the restaurant subscription business is Wetaca in Madrid, where chefs cook healthy meals that can be delivered straight to your home or workplace. They have 20,000 monthly subscribers and make €14 million a year.

Restaurant subscriptions may not be a completely novel concept in Spain, but as an article from Spanish business publication Invertia pointed out in November 2022, the industry is growing as 43 percent of Spaniards eat readymade meals from the supermarket, but more are now looking for healthier alternatives.

READ ALSO: Which startups succeed in Spain (and which ones fail)?

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WORKING IN SPAIN

Your questions answered about Spain’s digital nomad visa

Spain's long-awaited digital nomad visa is finally available, but there is still much confusion about it, so we've answered all your burning questions.

Your questions answered about Spain's digital nomad visa

Spain’s Startups Law, which also introduced a new digital nomad visa, was approved at the end of 2022, but didn’t come into force until January 2023 and all the details are only just now being revealed. 

From how much money you need to your tax obligations and if you can bring family, members, here are all your questions answered. 

READ ALSO – REVEALED: Everything you need to know about applying for Spain’s digital nomad visa

What are the financial requirements to apply for the visa?

You must prove that you earn 200 percent of the SMI or Minimum Interprofessional Salary. The current minimum wage in Spain is €1,000 per month (across 14 payments) or €1,166.67 across 12 payments.

Keep in mind though that the minimum wage is currently being re-evaluated and is likely to go up to €1,082 (across 14 payments) per month in the near future.

This means that currently, you must be able to show that you will have an income of at least €2,333.34 per month or €28,000 per year, but it is likely this will increase. You can prove this amount either with job contracts, invoices or bank statements.

Can I bring family members with me on the visa?

Yes, you are permitted to bring partners and children with you to Spain on the digital nomad visa.

In order to add a family member, however, you must prove that you have an extra 75 percent of the SMI or minimum wage. This currently equates to an extra €875. For each additional family member after this, such as children, you will have to prove you have an extra 25 percent of the SMI, currently €291.66.

READ ALSO: Ten of the best cities for digital nomads to move to in Spain

Do I need private health care?

You must also make sure that you have either private or public health insurance, simply getting travel insurance with health coverage is not enough.

The Spanish government mentions the option of getting public health insurance instead of private cover, but it is not yet clear whether this means that you will have to contribute to the social security system or be eligible for the convenio especial – the public pay-in scheme.

Do I have to have any professional qualifications? 

You must prove that you either have professional qualifications or a degree relating to your job or that you have at least 3 years’ experience working in your field. 

How long is the visa valid for?

The visa will be valid for an initial period of one year, however, it can be renewed for up to five years. After that, if you want to continue living in Spain, you will be able to apply for permanent residency.

Does the visa give me access to travel around the EU?

Yes, once you have your visa and you’re in Spain, you will be able to apply for a residency card. This will allow you to travel throughout the EU during the time that you’re living in Spain.

Keep in mind though, it won’t give you the right to work or live in other EU countries, but you will be able to go for short breaks. 

How long do I have to stay in Spain for the visa to be valid?

Many digital nomads choose to split their time between different countries. If this is your case, and you want to split your time between back home in the US or the UK for example, you must make sure you stay in Spain for a maximum of 6 months per year for your visa to remain valid.

Do I have to pay tax in Spain?

Yes. If you stay longer than 183 days, then you will be considered a tax resident in Spain. This means that any money you earn while working in Spain, even if it comes from clients or companies abroad will be taxable.

However, the digital nomad visa grants you tax benefits, such as being able to pay the Non-Residents Tax Rate (IRNR) rather than the regular progressive income tax (IRPF) that Spain’s resident workers pay.

Non-Resident Tax was previously only applicable to non-residents such as second-home owners, but an exception has been made for digital nomad visa holders even if they spend more than 183 days a year in Spain and are therefore technically fiscal residents.

IRNR is generally 24 percent in Spain and digital nomads will be able to pay this instead of the more progressive rates, as long as they earn below €600,000 a year.

This favourable tax rate will be available for four years, if you choose to renew your visa. 

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