Silicon Valley, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, is home to a number of innovative companies such as Apple, HP, Cisco and Netflix. It's the place to be for startups and innovative entrepreneurs. Today, one European travel destination is taking the tech startup industry by storm and shows no signs of slowing down: Barcelona. Whether it is the industry leading accelerators, increased angel investing, exciting global conferences conferences or the quality of life, this city is becoming a top destination for startups from across the globe.
ACCESS TO INDUSTRY LEADING ACCELERATOR PROGRAMS
Startup or “seed” accelerators are programs that help provide startups with a range of services from finding private funding to industry networking. These accelerator programs are highly sought after by startups, and Barcelona is home to many industry leading accelerators including: Wayra, Startupbootcamp, Numa and Seedrocket. These programs specialize in providing capital, facility access, professional mentorship, and exposure to venture capitalists to Barcelona’s best and brightest entrepreneurs. One indicator of the current tech attraction to Catalonia can be found by looking at Incubio. Incubio is a startup accelerator founded in Silicon Valley, but has since been relocated to Barcelona. The company offers concept development, private investing and process support. Although not a necessity, these accelerator programs are extremely beneficial in most cases and highly sought after and given the abundant supply available in Barcelona are helping transform it to a top tech destination. Barcelona also has many highly regarded business schools which places a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship to help ensure the continued progress of innovative minds within the city.
To showcase the rapid progression of Barcelona’s startup scene, look no further than the astonishing increase in angel investors. According to Venture Watch in 2015 the amount of capital invested in local tech startups increased from $363 to $664 million, a near 50% increase in comparison to the average European rate of 37% that year. Keeping the momentum going, 2016 saw Barcelona experience more angel activity than ever as it grew from occupying 17% to roughly 26% of all funding rounds, showing the continuously growing faith from the local community in these startups. The Catalonian region attracts some angel investors that focus most of their attention on Barcelona startups, such as Carlos Blanco and Vincente Arias. Blanco is one of the most recognizable figures in the Spanish startup ecosystem, co-founding startups such as Akamon entertainment and Barcelona-based accelerator Conector, as well as investing in over a dozen promising startups. Arias is a co-founder of the accelerator mentioned earlier in Seedrocket and is actively investing in local startups. With a multitude of investors similar to Blanco and Arias, Barcelona is a great place to be if you and your business are searching for that needed funding to elevate your structure to its full potential.
Barcelona is home to the Mobile World Congress, one of the largest conferences for the mobile and tech world that attracts over 100,000 top executives, investors and entrepreneurs to share ideas and see the latest tech innovations. During the MWC we host the #TECHicons party here at OneCowork to connect ideas with investors. As Barcelona becomes more recognized as an international tech hub, coworking spaces will continue their rapid growth with increasing numbers of entrepreneurs flocking to the area. Barcelona has already more than 300 coworking spaces and the number is growing. The growth of coworking spaces seems to be keeping pace with the startup industry, as more and more people globally are opting to be their own boss and stray away from the normal corporate structure. Due to recognized conferences such as the MWC and Smart City Expo choosing to operate from Barcelona, the number of freelancers and startups being attracted to the area will only continue to grow as they seek networking and funding opportunities.
The main ingredient that has made Barcelona one of the most attractive European destination spots for years is an added bonus for startups to place their roots here: the quality of life. For starters, the cost of living in Barcelona is significantly cheaper than other major European startup hubs such as London or Paris, which makes it a more viable option for many. Did I mention there is an average of 2500 hours of sun every year? Sunlight has been proven to boost morale and mood which in turn boosts performance, and there’s no better place to soak up the rays than the amazing beaches Barcelona has to offer. Don’t worry about not speaking Catalan either, as Barcelona is one of the most international friendly cities in Europe, with nearly a dozen prevalent global languages being spoken here daily. Throw in incredible architecture, a championship winning football team and a vibrant culture, and one will struggle to find a better place to live in the entire world.
So watch out Silicon Valley, London and New York, and make room for the new desired location of tech startups. Barcelona is ready to welcome your business with open arms and help you grow, so what are you waiting for?