The start-ups Spanish are going in the right direction. These companies have obtained in the first five months of this year capital injections for twice the amount achieved in 2020 or 2019. After having gone through times of great uncertainty, the vast majority have known get stronger thanks to its adaptability and its high level of digitization, which has allowed it to offer technological solutions to both consumers and other companies.
Around 23,000 of these emerging companies, whose business model is based on the intensive use of technological innovation, populate the Spanish business fabric. They represent 5.42% of the companies that were created between 2015 and last year, and that are still active. Most of them, close to 95%, are made up of micro-enterprises, that is, firms with fewer than 10 employees. The average number of workers for each, in addition, is 5.8, one more than in the other companies that emerged in the same period, according to the report Start-up companies in Spain, from the Spanish Export Credit Insurance Company (Cesce). This document does not take into account those that belong to consolidated business groups, but only independent ones.
The ‘start-ups’ in the face of the crisis
This entire sector was shaken by the situation derived from covid-19. “[A partir de marzo del año pasado] there was a halt in investment and activity, which plunged the start-ups in great uncertainty ”, they admit from the Spanish Association of Start-Ups (Aes). However, “having a great disposition to swingThey knew how to go back ”, they add. Precisely, the level of risk of these companies, according to Cesce’s study, is low or medium-low in 67.87% of the cases, while in the rest of those that emerged in the last five years this percentage is around 57%.
In this way, there was a rapid rebound in the index that is most taken into account when measuring the success of an emerging company: its ability to attract capital. Despite the gale caused by the crisis, 2020 closed with almost 986 million euros invested in start-ups, a figure very similar to the 999 million euros that they managed to capture the previous year. Even more encouraging are the data for the first five months of 2021, in which a great milestone was marked by receiving capital injections for about 1.95 billion euros, as published by the Start-ups Observatory of the sector magazine The Referrer.
Boom in the health sector
The main round of financing so far this year has been led by one of the largest investors in the dental care industry, CareCapital, for 41 million euros, in Impress, a new Barcelona orthodontic chain that digitizes part of the process. The projects of Health account for 40% of those chosen by entrepreneurs considering the creation of a new company, according to the latest Entrepreneurship map prepared by the global innovation platform South Summit, which also shows that investment in start-ups belonging to this sector grew by 78% last year. In the midst of the greatest recent health crisis, “it could not be otherwise”, sums up María Benjumea, founder and general director of Spain Start-up, the institution that promotes South Summit.
Among the emerging companies that have managed to raise funds at this juncture, Benjumea mentions Elma, a start-up who developed an application of information and communication technologies applied to healthcare (a field known by its name in English, eHealth) that takes the medical consultation to the mobile, and that raised a round of three million euros. But, beyond those who work in the telemedicine, There are many firms that have experienced great success operating in sectors driven by the restrictions imposed to contain coronavirus infections. “Suddenly consumers asked for new services and in greater quantity, and there were the start-ups, being the first for its flexibility, to face these new demands ”, they emphasize from the Aes.
The role of start-ups in digitization
The president of the Spanish Association of Capital, Growth and Investment (Ascri), Aquilino Peña, lists the sectors that have had the most pull: “The online education, the electronic commerceor, logistics and services associated with business activities, and home delivery ”. To visualize the phenomenon, Peña brings up Smartick and Lingokids, two online training companies for children, both based in Madrid, that complement education in mathematics and English. “These tools, which are different education providers from traditional schools, have helped parents ensure that their children continue to learn during confinement,” he explains.
Still, not all startups have weathered the consequences of the pandemic in the same way. On the contrary, many start-ups have had to face “a tsunami of change”, as stated by Deliveroo CEO Will Shu at the last edition of the South Summit held in October 2020. All the experts consulted agree that the sectors Most affected by the covid-19 crisis have been travel, hospitality and events. “The business of some companies went from billing hundreds of thousands of euros to nothing in a matter of weeks,” says Peña.
However, its ability to adapt quickly – “one of the essential characteristics for an organization to be competitive,” says Luis Buzzi, partner responsible for the Tourism and Innovation sector of KPMG in Spain through KPMG Innova Valley – has played a role. fundamental. An example of this has been CoverManager, an Andalusian company that offers a reservation system for restaurants, which reduced its rates to support its customers, says Peña, and reinvented itself by entering the restaurant business. home delivery.
Joan Riera, professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Esade Business School, points out that the pandemic favored heavily digitized companies. From the Aes they agree on this idea: “Without this factor, many activities of the citizens’ day-to-day would not have been able to develop, and there has not been any sector in which any start-up has not intervened successfully in the maintenance of production and consumption ”. The president of Ascri highlights some examples: “They have provided tools to companies, families and individuals to remain connected (video calling applications such as Zoom and Houseparty), to stay entertained (classes and children’s activities through Nanify), in addition of many others of a functional nature that have allowed the business fabric to remain active by enabling the possibility of remote work environments ”.
‘More communicative start-ups
Cesce’s report sheds light on another characteristic of the start-ups: the communication. According to the results of the study, emerging companies are twice as active in this area as other companies that were created in the last five years. 14.65% of the former have a presence on social networks or media, compared to only 7.38% of the others. Especially striking is the proportion of start-ups active in social networks, which reached 11.95%, against 6.66% of the others.
For the director of the Higher Degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Esic Business & Marketing School, Verónica Jiménez, these data explain the need on the part of the start-ups to exploit new ways of connecting with consumers. During the pandemic, “the impossibility of resorting to communication plans offline has enhanced the marketing online as a recruitment channel, loyalty and user retention ”, explains this expert.
More than the conjuncture, Benjumea emphasizes the intrinsic characteristics of these companies to explain their greater propensity for communication. “In general, start-ups They are much more agile than large corporations and that happens in all areas, also in this one; Furthermore, they are usually made up of teams that are digital natives and know the importance of social networks to position a brand, something that other more established companies have not been able to fully internalize ”, he says.
What will happen on the next years? For Buzzi, from KPMG, “the start-ups they have known how to get ahead of traditional businesses, with their audacity and their ability to understand this society and also create social economy businesses ”. Companies like Adopt a grandfather, a app designed to connect seniors living in residences with younger people, “they will undoubtedly be a future reference for any traditional company that wants to remain competitive”, he concludes.