Barcelona is known for beautiful beaches and music festivals. But is it a good place for an entrepreneur to set up shop? Jochen Doppelhammer – CEO of mobile communications startup Yuilop – makes the case for the city’s startup potential.
Ich bin ein Barceloner: I started my career in Germany, but moved to Barcelona during the first dot com boom. After that bubble burst in 2000, I ended up working in London at a mobile operator for some years before finding my way back to Barcelona as an entrepreneur in 2005. I started my current company Yuilop – a mobile app that lets you turn just about any device connected to the internet into a phone in the cloud – here in 2010.
So why Barcelona?
Why not settle in Berlin, London or even the Silicon Valley? Show me one city where you have the same mix of creative inspiration, business opportunities and lifestyle and I might consider it… Barcelona is the only place I know, so far, where I can have engaging business meetings during the day, take a quick ride on the metro to take a swim in the Mediterranean after work, meet international people at any hour, day or night, for ideation and head to the mountains for some climbing on the weekend.
I didn’t hesitate to set up Yuilop’s headquarters in Barcelona, not for a second, knowing that the international ecosystem and the attractiveness of the city would allow me and my team to get the right talent on board and scale easily on a global level.
Crisis – what crisis?
Yes, we’ve got a crisis, but not in tech. Over the years, basically starting from the Olympic Games in 1992, Barcelona has established a solid digital ecosystem that includes:
- More than 200 active digital startups across eCommerce, mobile, B2B, gaming and travel
- Some of Europe’s top startups including King.com, Privalia and OdigeO
- More than 20 startup investors and business angels, including top international VCs such as Nauta Capital, Active Venture Partners and Inveready
- Startup incubators such as Seedrocket and Wayra
- Several successful multi-million euro exits including Softonic and eDreams
In addition, the Barcelona ecosystem is bolstered by:
- Some of the world’s top ranked business (IESE, ESADE) and design (IED, BAU) schools
- An international airport with low-cost connections all across Europe
- Cheap office locations anywhere you want (side effect of the crisis)
- Being host to global events like the Mobile World Congress
- An incredible subtropical Mediterranean climate
All of this together attracts talent. Barcelona has a fantastic pool of both local and international people. The Yuilop team alone is made up of people from across the Iberian Peninsula, France, Germany, US, Egypt and Brazil. And if you can’t find someone on the ground, it’s really not too hard to convince the people you want to move here.
Europe is better off if we can create several startup hubs
Don’t get me wrong, I love Berlin and London, and go to both places very often for business and pleasure. Europe is better off if we can create several digital business hubs. There’s nothing better for business than a healthy dose of competition. My conclusion is simply that if you are looking to start up something in Europe, Barcelona should not be overlooked as a serious candidate.
The Spanish city’s got a great vibe, people, international atmosphere, an amazing lifestyle to help recharge any entrepreneur’s batteries, and a great ecosystem of like-minded people to help you get started.
For related posts, check out:
Not just saunas and Angry Birds – how the Finnish tech scene is bubbling into a startup hothouse
More than just Red Bull – an introduction to the Austrian startup scene
Milan – Italy’s top startup hub?