By Meghan Morris, Madrid
Spanish history in the western United States dates back to the early 16th century, when pioneers set sail for what is now the west coast of the United States. Now, 500 years later, Spaniards are still harnessing the opportunities available in California. They look for their chance for a start up. Five Spanish entrepreneurs explain how they spotted technological needs – from boring videos to information access – and created solutions that have grown into global businesses.
The speakers – Iñaki Arredondo (The Mad Video), Fernando Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia (Floqq), Carlos de la Lama Noriega (Startup Embassy), Sinuhe Arroyo (Playence) and Julio Prada (Inbenta para España) – mixed lessons from their specific businesses with takeaways on how Spain can stimulate innovation.
Tomás Poveda, the director general for Casa de América, said the country’s best option for encouraging entrepreneurship will be a revolution, not continuing the status quo. His equation for success adds together an efficient state, information and communication technologies, education, startups, business and employment.
The Spanish government works to support startups in Silicon Valley through the Spain Tech Center, a program to facilitate companies’ entry into the North American market. Companies receive assistance in San Francisco for six to 12 months with networking, preparation for meetings with venture capitalists and other mentoring resources. There are 25 Spanish companies working with Spain Tech Center, according to its website, that range from a solar power consulting group to a mobile marketing firm.
Despite this help, launching a startup is never an easy process. Carlos de la Lama Noriega, who went to Silicon Valley like many budding entrepreneurs, started his company to assist young businesspeople of all nationalities. He said he encountered much difficulty after arriving in California with two suitcases and little sense of how to navigate the culture, so he decided to fill this need in the area with Startup Embassy: Would-be entrepreneurs can live and work in one house together in Palo Alto to facilitate ideas exchange and more intimate networking.
Startup Embassy, like all of the businesses featured in “Españoles en Silicon Valley”, caters to a global workforce, not solely Americans or Spaniards. This, the speakers said, is the future of business: Identifying a need and solving a particular problem, for companies and people throughout the world.