It’s a new year for the tech industry in Barcelona, and we have high expectations for the future of our founders and our startups, but we wanted to hear the opinion from two people having their finger on the pulse of the city’s tech industry every day.

Aleix Valls, director of Mobile World Capital and CEO of 4YFN is organizing the fourth edition of the city’s biggest startup event, 4 Years From Now, that this year will attract 20.000 people from all over the world:

The biggest change in 2017 will be how the big corporates starts to interact with the startup scene. We’ll definitely see it at 4YFN, but also in general.

Scott Mackin, editor of Barcinno, Barcelona’s community driven tech blog agrees with Valls:

The giant corporates has awakened, and they recognize that they move too slowly, and that there’s new faster companies out there that can compliment their business. This will change the game in the years to come.

The Champions League of tech hubs

Both Mackin and Valls interact with Barcelona startups every single week.

Valls explains how he believe that the next 4–5 years Europe will establish several hubs for technology and innovation, each for their own sector or technology.

He tells itnig that the race to become a specialized tech hub in Europe has already started, and that Barcelona has positioned itself well for the e-commerce sector:

The next years will be the Champions League of becoming the main tech hubs on the continent. Because of this trend, I think we’ll see more and more local startups moving away from consumer facing products, and focus on B2B business models where they’ll get revenue in from day one.

Mackin says there has been many impressive B2B startups coming out of Barcelona the last year:

We’ve been needing the involvement of the corporate sector in Barcelona for a while, and hopefully it will attract more talent, and also raise salaries. To mention one of the startups bringing a lot of buzz to the B2B sector right now, I have to say Travelperk, aiming at changing corporate travel. I hope we see more of these companies, bringing in revenue from day one.

Desperately needs exits

As Valls compares Barcelona to other European startup hubs, one of the main needs he points to, is more exits.

Both London, and especially Berlin with Rocket Internet has these big tech companies both acquiring and exiting startups, and stimulates the whole tech ecosystem. We need that in Barcelona as well.

Valls also underlines that he thinks Barcelona needs more PR, not only to attract tourists, but to show the world how big and vibrant the tech ecosystem really is.

Mackin says that a lot of good things are happening in Barcelona right now, but there’s still a lot of unleashed potential:

We’re starting to build hubs, especially with Pier 01 with over 1.000 professionals gathered under the same roof. What we need now is more events, content and socializing to create an even stronger community

https://upscri.be/285782-2

The biggest challenges

Valls points to several things Barcelona needs to improve to foster more startups.

There’s tons of positive development in Spanish startup ecosystem, but there are also challenges.

Valls points to new tax regulations for business angels as something that could help attract more investment. Another thing is stock options, as you often can’t offer the best salaries in startups and stock options in the company is what keeps the talent in house for years:

In Spain you tax on stock options that hasn’t been cashed out yet, and that’s terrible for startups. A good idea could be to regulate stock options in technology startups differently than in regular businesses.

The 4YFN director also wants to see better VISA opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Editor Mackin, who is American, says he’s grateful for the entrepreneurial VISA that already exists in Spain, but says that it should be much easier to obtain, than it is today:

I think we need to learn from our European neighbors, France for instance has more incentives for startups and young companies than in Spain, and the same goes for other countries such as in the Nordics and in Germany.

As the last question of the podcast, the guys were to answer the question what Barcelona based startup they saw as most promising in 2017.

Valls looks to Typeform:

Through MWC we invest in many startups, but if I would say a company where I’m not biased, I would say Typeform is this kind of B2B company, that will do great things in 2017.

Mackin has his own favorite:

I would point to Kompyte, also a B2B company with a very impressive product. They’re growing fast, and now they’ve gotten into 500 Startups as well, so I think we’ll be hearing more from them in 2017.


If you missed our last podcast, take a look here:


This post and podcast was produced by @sindre hopland, media manager at itnig.

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T.

The new time and attendance law will kill innovation in Spain and Europe

Simple solutions or “one fits all” policies are easy to market by populist governments but they are sometimes at the expense of certain sectors and their people. This time the affected party is innovation and value added services, to a point that puts in jeopardy our (already weak) spot in the global competitiveness landscape.

I’ve always told my teams that I do not hire their time, but rather their talent and potential: their brains, their energy and passion and their willing to make a difference and impact our clients and the world through them. Innovative companies try to get in existing markets and solve things in complete different ways, some go as far as creating new markets from scratch. They all have in common that their mission is extremely hard, sometimes impossible (thus most fail along the way). The key for their success is how they manage to convince their teams that everything they do is not a job, but a religion. They are changing the world and that is something worth spending time and making history.

I can tell if somebody is motivated by their job by looking at their eyes while they talk about their challenges and ideas. Best people don’t work, they play. They make their challenges their hobbies. I’ve had many conversations at 1 am in the office, after some beers and sushi, before even realizing what time it is. Only when a job makes this kind of conditions happen, the wheel of significant value creation really stirs and great things come from it.

It is very hard to create a culture in which people feel so empowered that they are capable of anything. In my experience, it helps granting absolute flexibility. I don’t remember the last time I approved vacations to my team, or I paid attention to their schedules, or the days in which they worked from home or the office. This is not the kind of conversations I want to have with them. My relationship with my team is based on trust, and it is based on one single (often repetitive) conversation: how can we do more and better, how can we grow faster, how can we raise the bar. Little it matters to me whether they contribute to this questions from the beach in Canary Islands or spending many hours in the office.

However, the government today decided that it is a great idea in the 21th century that all companies like ours should make everybody clock in and clock out by law. I’m now obliged to add people’s time and attendance into our conversation. We now have to treat all jobs like production lines in factories (amidst the era of hyper automation and robotization). They go as far as having us registering accurate pauses for lunch. Unfortunately they don’t include how should we manage the time spent in the chill-out area, or when having long coffees in the outside terrace, or spending the afternoon in ping pong championships. Should we clock-in and clock-out every time we do that too?

When I travel I always get asked how is the Spanish ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation developing, I always defend our potential to become a leading actor in science and technology,  besides our current reputation for tapas, toros and siesta. We previously analysed the many initiatives taking place in the city of Barcelona. But my question is: is there anybody in the government actually helping us to make this happen?

The new law will come to place the next 12th of May. At Factorial we developed a free feature, so companies can instantly become compliant with the law. Interestingly enough, almost immediately after launching this feature people started developing tools using our API to automate clocking or connecting it with Slack and other interfaces. It looks like after all there will always be people willing to work on relevant things and not waste their energy in bureaucratic traps.

PD: You can find more information about the law in this article.