SPANISH STARTUP MANIFESTO: THE MANIFESTO OF THE SPANISH ENTREPRENEURIAL ECOSYSTEM
The Spanish manifesto promotes entrepreneurship because we think startups are the best choice for sustainable growth and to create quality jobs.
(Spanish? No prob, read about Spain Startup Manifesto at Startupsxplore’s Blog)
What are the objectives of the manifesto?
We love Spain. It is a great country full of great people: a wonderful place to live.
However, in recent years we have seen that although many startups are born here, very few manage to get ahead, even less than the usual percentage, and many of the best are leaving. When you ask an experienced Spanish entrepreneur who has successfully started his own startup, where he would build his next one, the answer is often US or UK. Unfortunately, this response is “the norm” for many successful entrepreneurs in Spain.
We want to change this way of thinking. We want it to be such that it is a great idea to build a startup in Spain.
In 2018, startups in Europe will employ nearly 5 million people and generate 63 million euros in profits.
We know it’s crazy, but every time that people try to convince us that something is impossible, we prove them wrong by making it possible.
What approach we took (and why)?
We’ve tried to take into consideration everyone’s opinion and perspective. Of course, we didn’t always agree on everything. Although we agreed on most issues, we didn’t always agree on the best solutions to those problems, so we had to leave out some things and come to terms with others.
Where did we get our idea from?
When we first learned about the European Manifesto Startup, we found it incredible that this masterpiece had been created with the support of the community. It reflected several problems we have seen repeated many times in Spain, and even if only half of the proposals were implemented, the situation of European startups would improve a great deal.
A few months ago, Isidro Laso (Head of Startup Europe sector, European Commission) mentioned to Alex Barrera, one of the key figures of entrepreneurship in Spain, the idea of creating a Spanish Manifesto. Alex had been involved in the creation of the Greek Manifesto; and at that time, there was a push to build initiatives that would create manifestos throughout Europe.
89% of total employment generated in Spain was from companies with fewer than 20 workers
This gave rise to a chain of emails that were sent to several key players in the Spanish ecosystem. Although everyone liked the idea, they were concerned about wasting time on something that will ultimately be used as political propaganda and stir up trouble without actually making a difference (Miguel and Iñaki have gone through the process of creating a manifesto once before for the España Emprende, and they did not want to repeat the work).
Isidro made it clear that although the European Commission wants to support the manifesto, this had to be our project, and how far it would go depended entirely on us. We promised that the manifesto would have a significant impact and that we would take advantage of existing information provided by the European manifesto and España Emprende.
Members that finally accepted the challenge of publishing the first version of the manifesto for the entrepreneurial community are the following:
Those who fought to give voice to the entrepreneurial community by coordinating the tasks necessary to create the document and making it a reality:
- Carmen Bermejo: Tetuan Valley. Geek girl who loves to learn new things. @tetuanvalley CEO, software developer, @aespanish, @agilegirls.
- Javier Megias: Startupxplore, Blogger. CEO & co-founder at startupxplore.com – Entrepreneur, investor & blogger working hard to make things happen.
- María del Mar Mitjavila: Tetuan Valley. Tetuan Valley Association Technician. Degree in Translation and Interpreting at Pontificia Comillas University
Although the manifesto was created with the contributions of many entrepreneurs and renowned figures of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, significant contributors were:
- Alejandro Barrera: Press 42, Tech.eu. Chief WOWness @ press42.com (@42press), Cofounder & editor @Tech_EU, Cofounder @tetuanvalley. @startupdigest curator in Madrid.
- David Bonilla: Otogami, Runnics. Candela’s Husband. Daddy of Irene and Danny. Pocket Dictator at @OtogamiCOM and Slow Runner at @runnics. I think in Spanish but I tweet in English 🙂
- Iñaki Arrola: Coches.com, Vitamina K, Chamberí Valley. In this order: Husband. Father of almost four. Marathoner. Founder at @coches, business angel and cofounder at Vitamina K VC
- Jorge Schnura: Tyba. Co-Founder of @tyba. Building a kickass company
- Juan Cartagena: Traity. Founder CEO @Traity_, helping create a world where we can trust one another. MBA UChicago outside, MEng inside. Joga Capoeira.
- Justo Hidalgo: 24symbols. Would love to have an artist’s heart and a scientist’s brain… but in the meantime I do have Mickey Mouse’s ears and nose! 😀
- Liz Fleming: IE Business School – Venture Lab. IE Business School. Venture Lab. Spain Startup Co-investment Fund. Kauffman Fellow.
- Luis Martín Cabiedes: Cabiedes & Partners. Partner. Seed and early Series Investments in Internet and Technology Ventures in Spain.
- Mario López de Ávila: Agile Entrepreneurship Spain, Nodos en Red, UEIA. Consultant, Entrepreneur & Investor, Co-Founder UEIA, Associated Professor at IE Business School, Founder AES Meetup. Promotor http://els2014.com
- Marcos Eguillor: IdeaFoster. Optimist. Digital, innovation, transformation. Entrepreneur. Founder @BinaryKnowledge, @IdeaFoster. Professor @IEBusiness. Part of @CruzRojaEsp, @COIT_AEIT.
- Miguel Arias: Carto DB, Chamberí Valley. Proud dad. COO @CartoDB. Entrepreneur & Investor. Founder @ChamberiValley & @IMASTE. Mentor @Wayra,IE biz school,Seedrocket. IVLP alumni
- Israel Gutierrez: h4ckademy. Funambulist @h4ckademy. Passionate about education innovation and programming. Co-organizer @edupreneursMAD.
What are the themes?
We try to incorporate main aspects and ideas that make up the Spanish entrepreneurial and investment community, and we classified them in the following manner:
- TALENT: We need to avoid brain drain because it has a very negative impact on our economy.
- EDUCATION: It is essential to stimulate entrepreneurship in all stages of education.
- ECOSYSTEM: We must overcome challenges that prevent startups in Spain from reaching their full potential, which has progressed greatly in recent years.
- CAPITAL: We need more access to capital, drive up reinvestment of profits, attract foreign investment, and improve access to crowdfunding.
- REGULATION: The legal framework should be stable and effective to facilitate the creation, management and closure of businesses.
- CULTURE: We must overcome cultural barriers that damage entrepreneurial activities.
What has been the process?
We want to be very transparent by explaining the process of creating the manifesto because it was a challenging process.
- The first task was to create a group of experts that could share their ideas and create a working foundation to which we can build on. We made a list of those who could contribute, there were about 30 names which we cut to about 15. We wanted the majority of them to be startup founders, but we also had investors and accelerators in the group.
- Next, we sent out invitations and created a mailing list and a shared folder. In the shared folder, we created a document for “brainstorming” and invited everyone to share what they considered to be important.
- By then we realized we had miscalculated and committed an error: The manifesto could not be considered a summer project because it could not be completed in 3 months. For example, many participants had plans to travel or go on a vacation. Although it was a great to have them contribute, they are extremely busy people, so it took a long time to receive a response from them.
- The next step was to create work groups. We decided to divide the job into 5 areas – Investment, Job Market, Culture, Education and Government – and created 5 separate documents for each of them. Each document include everything that was that had been said in the “brainstorming” document as well as knowledge from the España Emprende and European manifesto. These work groups separated problems from solutions and summarized the most important aspects of each area. This process is important to keep the discussions more focused.
- The next step was to upload the problems and solutions to a platform where people could give us feedback (Uservoice).Our intention was to create a debate forum such that it would help to create the next version of the document in which the startup community would have played a critical role in its creation. We invited about 70 people, many were founders of startups. However, this idea did not work because people were not responding and commenting on the platform.
- To solicit more feedback, we created a compact version of the manifesto in one document and shipped it to most of our followers. This idea was a success because we got more feedback and involvement.
- Despite our efforts we thought that the document lacked flow and focus, due to contributions from various sources. Therefore there was a lot of work to do for the final version. Important tasks included reviewing the style of the manifesto and rearranging its themes and ideas. We worked hard to ensure that all crucial ideas were reflected in the manifesto. In that version we also got some ideas from White Paper written by UpGlobal because we discovered that their document had many things in common with our manifesto.
- We also noticed that many of the problems and solutions mentioned were too specific for a manifesto, and in some cases they referenced specific laws. Despite this dilemma, we did not want to completely rid the document of these ideas. Therefore, we decided to create a separate document called “concrete steps” and publish it as a complement component to the manifesto: it will be our action plan.
- That document had a very positive response and we received more feedback. The latest versions consisted of incorporating these feedbacks, making the language more coherent, clarifying some statements and finding research and data to support our claims.
Main milestones in the creation of the manifesto
Despite it being incomplete, the manifesto attracted a lot of attention from several groups and individuals in Europe. It was featured on events such as:
After being presented at the Europe Summit, several organizations in other countries have decided to create a manifesto of their own and they have asked us to help them by sharing our knowledge and experience: Startup.be in Belgium, Beta-i in Portugal and NUMA in France.
This is just the beginning, now comes the hard part. We have to show that the Spanish entrepreneurial community is willing to fight and change the startups condition in Spain and make our country an ideal place to start a company. Regardless of what will come in the future, we currently have an agenda for the short term:
- Collect signatures
- Share the document of concrete steps. So that this is not an empty shell, we want to propose very specific and concrete measures that can be put into practice soon: Share the manifesto
The team behind this post