In itnig’s Podcast #25 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, talks with Javier Llorente, an old friend of itnig and investor of itnig and Quipu & Camaloon investor about how he became a professional investor from scratch.


At itnig every Friday we sit down to talk with interesting people whom we meet throughout the week and we make a podcast (in Spanish) out of our conversations. You can listen to it on iTunes, subscribe to our channel on Youtube or enjoy it through iVoox.

For this Podcast #25 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig and Javier Llorente come together to talk about the beginning of his career, the founding of Grupo Intercom and subsequent investments.

https://upscri.be/5c88ff/

Javier is a professional investor, the European Found of Investment (who invests alongside Javier) names him the most active investor in Spain with more than 40 investments. We talk with him about his beginnings?

Javier, how did you start?

I started working when I was 14 years old to contribute to my family’s economy. When I 16 years old I joined the Banco Vizcaya even before it fused to become BBVA. However it was not a job I liked, the days were long and it was boring to me. (Actually I studied clinical psychology but have never practiced).

It was at a time where you said: ‘Internet — what’s that?’

How did you start working with Antonio González-Barros?

When I left the bank I started working in a school focussed on technology. Antonio was the neighbour of the school were I worked and that’s how we were introduced. Antonio was introduced to Axel Serena, a youngster at that time who had lived in the USA and was the first to tell us about Internet. He told us about Internet at a time when in France people were using Minitel.

In May 1995 we founded Intercom as internet provider. Antonio brought together 30 friends, who were all fascinated by email.

In 2000, before the crisis started, Intercom was bought as one of 10 Internet providers but in these past five years other than the Internet provider we had started different classified sites like Softonic of Infojobs.

On Infojobs uploading your CV was free but the companies publishing job offers were paying for the service. After the first three offers we had different ad packages for companies. Monster, leader on the US market, spent an enormous amount of money on the market but there was not much they could do. Infojobs kept growing and became a monopoly.

From then on this was our success at the new Grupo Intercom: To achieve that these classified sites converted into leaders in their category. Softonic for Software, Infojobs for the job market and later on Emagister.

Did you start investing after selling Intercom STA (Servicios Telemáticos Avanzados), the Internet provider?

Yes, we invested in new businesses, some went well others didn’t. There were some business models that had worked in the past but were hard to replicate in 2008/2009.

I remember that in ten years 1999 to 2009 the value of a participation in Infojobs grew from 100 to 3124.8 Euro. in 1999 the 100 were pesetas in 2009, the 3000 were Euro. This is really hard to replicate.

What are you looking for in an entrepreneur for you to invest?

Excel sheets adapt to anything but what really counts is the person.

When you meet somebody, you see the enthusiasm, you connect on a personal level. I am looking for honesty, somebody who is engaged and is hard working. For me the important factor is the team and the entrepreneur who manages it.

I think we invest emotionally and then we rationalize.

Is it important for you to know who invests? Do you lead or co-invest?

I have been in both positions. It’s good to know who else is investing and to be able to exchange opinions. It’s important but not determinant, it’s not a sure fire rule.

Actually I think there are no rules, you kind of improvise.

As a psychologist, what is the profile of entrepreneur you are looking for?

Firstly, the attitude is more important than aptitude. With attitude alone you cannot work of course but for me attitude comes first and then the capacity to create what you want, to learn what you set yourself.


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Grupo Intercom’s beginning and development story. Learn more in this Podcast in Spanish on our Youtube channel, listen to it on iTunes or enjoy it through iVoox and subscribe to our newsletter to stay always up to date.

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O.

On sales leadership

These are some values that I learned that define a leader:

– A leader is somebody who reaches their goals and achieves beyond their individual abilities aligned with their own values and the organization’s values. A leader without a team is not a leader. A leader works for the team, not the other way around.

– Humbleness. Leaders must get to know themselves first, acknowledge their limitations. Acknowledge they have no recipe for success (no one does). They will succeed only by being curious and trying things faster, testing, changing things again, failing again, learning as fast as possible. In sales, everybody notices when things work well, success is measured in € vs budget. A leader must embrace results with no buts and take action to reach the goals.

– A leader works harder, a leader cares about the goals more than anybody else, they took full ownership of the goals. A leader does about anything to remove bottlenecks away on his team, they assist, train, support everybody, anything it takes. They are always the best resource for their team.

– A leader will always be available for everybody in their team, for personal and professional issues. They go the extra mile. They make sure everybody knows that. They earn the team’s trust.

– A leader makes everyone aware that teamwork is not negotiable. Without a cooperative team, there’s no leader. Lone wolves kill the growing/changing organization. Growth happens only WITH the team, not at their expense.

– Leaders communicate all the time, they don’t keep things to themselves, they are honest with their team. They share good and bad. They share the why’s. They trust their team. Trust precedes process and it is the only path to grow at a scale.

– Leaders learn fast and learn mostly from their team. The team has the most valuable knowledge a leader can get, it doesn’t come from books, blog posts, degrees or mentors. The team gets the real shit from the front line. A leader listens to their teams’ impressions and ideas, they explore them all and give feedback. Leaders generate a culture of idea generation and idea sharing. Leaders stay away from guru preaching.

– It’s important to understand people’s personal and professional ultimate goals and motivations. Leaders spend time asking them on their one on ones and they think about them. They write them down. Everybody is playing the movie of their lives, a leader must find out which one is it, they make sure each team member keeps being the hero of their movie.

– Leaders always lead by example, not by title. They show real bravery. Leaders go first to battle. They call leads and close customers. They apologize to customers when the company screws up. They take the shit first. They don’t leave anyone behind. They don’t show their rank, their status, their difference, their pedigree. Startups are flat meritocratic organizations. Leaders must understand well the company goals and they put them first, they are prepared to step down, or step aside, or leave the company at any moment if needed. Company goals are what matters most. Leaders show this to everyone. Company/collective oriented leaders always thrive.

– Leaders celebrate every victory. They visibly show the pain of every defeat. They take every opportunity to show they care. They analyze why/what/how and find out always changes to be made. Then they go and make the changes. They change anything or everything, but never keep on doing what doesn’t work. They shake the whole company inside out before/when goals are not met.

– Leaders set goals that are both ambitious and achievable. They work along the team to make sure they meet the goals. They are flexible when the goals are set wrong. They are implacable when goals are not met.

Most people will never be a leader. It takes time and patience, it takes survival skills, it takes real personal strength. But after committing to all these things, things start to work. Leaders are such when and only when they brought teams to make things work, nobody becomes a leader just by trying it. True leaders make sure they don’t leave the boat until things work (as they will work, ultimately!). They don’t leave the job undone.

– Bernat Farrero CEO at Itnig