Current affairs

Making the leap to profitable and scalable startups

Karel Escobar, the CEO of Tetuan Valley, and Ignacio Santamartina, the Director of the Master in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Madrid Campus, analyse the entrepreneurial ecosystem as 2017 draws to a close and the trends for the year ahead in this face-to-face chat.

Thursday, 11 de January, 2018

Exciting years” is how we could best describe the years we have just experienced and those that lay ahead in the future for entrepreneurs and startups. This is the starting point for the two professionals contacted for this face-to-face chat on entrepreneurship in 2017 and the trends for the year ahead. Moreover, Karel Escobar and Ignacio Santamartina respond, sometimes in agreement, others not, to questions on cutting edge sectors, the Spanish cities with the greatest entrepreneurial ecosystem, investment for 2018 and many challenges to be tackled.

Entrepreneurship remains centre stage, representing values such as innovation, creativity, evolution, change and the transformation of ideas. Increasingly, people become entrepreneurs “as a vocation”. Moreover, in the panorama at the end of 2017, 73% of startups are seed ventures and the profile of the Spanish entrepreneur is predominantly male (82%), an average of 36 years old and university qualified (data taken from the Entrepreneurship Map 2017, research conducted by South Summit).

“As 2017 drew to a close, it broke records as the year in which startups have received most investment, with a total of €840 million, representing an increase of 48% compared to the previous year”, highlighted Karel, first of all. As such, rather than a boom, we are talking about an “upward trend”, that continues the growth recorded in previous years. In agreement, Ignacio added that “every year will be the boom year for startups”. Although we need to define what we understand by the term startup, “it is a world that has a great future and for which exciting years lay ahead”.

The two professionals also agree on the fact that, in view of their size, Madrid and Barcelona, remain the most important Spanish cities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, as contenders to break up this two-horse race, they highlight Valencia, Bilbao, Seville, Málaga, and a few smaller cities, such as Salamanca.

In terms of the sectors that will lead the way for entrepreneurial ventures in 2018, Ignacio predicts Agritech and Health. “They could make a great leap forward and set the standard in the short term”. Meanwhile, Karel’s forecasts lean more towards Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. He also mentioned Blockchain: “Everyone will be talking about it, but it still has to demonstrate all the potential it has been credited with”.

Moving on to investment and whether we will see growth, in Karel’s opinion, “we are unlikely to see another year of 40% growth”, in reference to the rate for 2017. “New investment funds will keep being created and investment will continue, but I don’t think it will break the billion euro barrier”.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Master in Entrepreneurship and Innovation says that “investment will grow in overall terms, but we have to beware of overheating. The question should not simply be how much money I can earn from the startup I am participating in, but rather whether it will be profitable one day”.

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