I usually start by saying that I’ve been a designer for the last 15 years, UI designer. “What’s UI?” I get that question a lot, can’t help but smile.

“User Interface,” I respond, trying to answer the question in a few words, “is the visual part of an app. You see, the engineers will write the code, but most people can’t read and understand the code, so the user interface displays all that information in a way anyone can understand. Or at least that’s what good UI does, or tries to do.”

We say app, although UI extends to the OS itself, and nowadays to anything with a screen. We say anyone, but what we really mean is anyone with a certain background — which might be really broad or really specific. We say user interface, when we actually mean graphical user interface; we lost the graphical in the rush of our daily lives.

“So you make apps look nice?” It’s pleasant when people are interested in what you do.

UI is entangled with UX, user experience. Which is how people interact with a tool, the feedback they receive, and the mental model: the way the human thinks the machine operates, to name a few. UI is what you see, UX is everything that happens around it. The interface must be clear and beautiful, the experience direct and pleasant.


Through the years I’ve come to realize that I was always meant to do this for a living. Or perhaps I’m so deep in this shit that it has changed who I am. I love visual arts, I enjoy enigmas and puzzles, and I strive to be as rational and objective as possible.

You’ll recognize a UX/UI designer because when faced with a complication in real life, they will stop to think about it for a second, ask a clarifying question about the usage, and then proceed to recommend something that could solve the problem. The solutions might include getting rid of something that’s not useful, changing the location of certain things, or even wondering if the complication could be completely replaced with a simpler, more adequate thing.

I was at a house party once — I’ve been to more parties, but they’re not as relevant.

The hosts had an ample living room, but all the guests were hanging out in the kitchen (happens at all parties). So the room with the music was empty, and the kitchen was crowded, making it hard get a drink. They had an L-shaped couch in the middle of the living room, dividing the space in two, which is useful for watching movies and creating two spaces in one room. I mentioned to Theo that if we moved the couch, it would create more space, allowing people to stand there — and even have room to dance. We moved it 90 degrees and pushed it against the corner — a change in the user interface. The amount of seating didn’t change, so we added a feature without losing another one in the process. Great!

Then I turned my attention to the dinner table, that was still blocking part of the living room. I should’ve suggested beer pong at the time — let’s call that v2 — but instead I suggested the same operation: turn it 90 degrees and put it against the wall. We also brought the spirits from the kitchen counter to that table, so those drinks were easier to access, freeing up the kitchen, and allowing beers to remain cold and accessible in the fridge. We changed the way you grab a drink (the user experience, that is), divided the most common actions (beers and cocktails) into two main categories with two different flows.

After this, the party was the same: the same conversations, same music, and same people. The contents remained unchanged, but it was more user friendly.

 


 

A party, an appa pedestrian crossing… In the startup world we might consider user interfaces just a part of the many in software, but simplifying and adjusting to our needs the way we interact with tools — and other people — , can always be positive. Next time you’re faced with a complication think:Do I need it? Is it the best solution? Can it be simplified?

A staple can’t get simpler, but you might not need it at all: a paper clip does a similar function and it’s reusable. Or maybe you didn’t even need to print that at all. And as I finish my drink and this paragraph, I wonder if I’ve explained what UX/UI design is effectively. What do you think?

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V.

VCs come into action — Breakdown of Spanish investment activity of January 2018

January closes with €195.3 million investments in Spanish startups within 24 operations

  • The Spanish entrepreneurial ecosystem is maturing thanks to investment rounds of more than €10 millions.
  • Barcelona and Madrid continue leading the Spanish ecosystem.


This is the first in a series of posts in which we will do an analysis of the Spanish startup investment landscape. We will look at the overall funding numbers and trends in the country month by month and compare it with data of the previous year.

What are the Spanish investment activities like on a month to month basis? What deals and volumes are we talking about? At what stages are startups prone to search investment and which regions in Spain attract the most funding?

The year 2017 brought us plenty in terms of innovation and investment activity within the area of technological startups, although Spain has been driven by political problems. The developments we have seen in 2018 so far are picking up at just the same fast pace.

January has closed with €195.3 million investments in Spanish startups within 24 operations. Of these funding rounds, highlights are the round of Cabify, Hawkers and Redpoints :

  • Cabify: The ride-hailing app that competes against Uber, has raised €143.3 million ($160) Series E funding round from a mix of previous and new investors, including Rakuten Capital, TheVentureCity, Endeavor Catalyst, GAT Investments, Liil Ventures and WTI, as well as prominent local investors from Spain and Latin America.

When analyzing the structure of financing deals, the increase in venture capital activity in Jan-18 is noticeable in comparison with Jan-17.

#Deals and volume in the Spanish startup investment landscape in January


In terms of the number of deals closed, we have seen a slight downward trend in the country. With a broad participation of Venture Capital, there have been less deals but more capital invested in each transaction. The reason for such a boost is mostly the gigantic financing round of Cabify with participation of giants’ VCs like Rakuten Capital, TheVentureCity and others.

The entry of European, American and Japanese funds investing in Spanish startups are accounting for a large percentage of the growth of the investments in Spain. At the same time, this global investment rise is making the average value of the financial rounds soar up to more than 1.5 times that of the previous year (without taking account of Cabify’s investment, that would turn this factor to more than 6 times the previous year)

The differences between January-2017 and January 2018 in terms of the increase in venture capital activity is shown below:

Startup investment deals by size of round


As we expected to see, the number of operations closed by investment size tends to a larger number in larger deals. While the number of deals of €500k or less have decreased considerably, the number of larger deals have gone up notably. This might be understood as an increasing number of companies maturing and reaching later stages of funding.

To properly ensure the aforementioned, in the following figure we show the breakdown of the investment activity by year of foundation of the company:

Startup investment activity (Jan-18) by year of foundation


Our previous statement is reinforced by this figure. The large transactions take place on established companies. In general, the more years a startup survives, the more established it is. As we observed, in average, the startups that were previously founded are those who raised more funding. That makes sense because normally an older startup has a bigger team and unless it has reached breakeven, it will need more funds to survive.

Startup investment deals by Region



Regarding the breakdown of startup investments by region, Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia bolster their position in the top of Spanish regions:

  • Cataluña (mostly in Barcelona) stands with 9 deals closed and an investment of €19 millions
  • Madrid gathers 7 deals and an investment of €148 million (€143 million in Cabify)
  • Valencia up to 3 deals and €23 million (€20 million in Hawkers)

Operations January 2018: