A staggering number of Spaniards, eight years into the economic crisis and without much hope for a job, have created their own startups in increasingly creative ways
If you’re a long-term reader of mine, you may be surprised to hear that I found it challenging to pick the most innovative startups in Spain. After all, I’m the chica who said the Spanish aren’t entrepreneurs. Even if three years later, many Spanish still can’t be entrepreneurs, I’ve been privileged to witness a huge cultural shift in my adopted country.
While I’ve always been the first to rush to interview the new castellano innovators, I’ve gotten way behind because a staggering number of Spaniards, eight years into the economic crisis and without much hope for a job, have created their own employment in increasingly creative ways. Without further ado, enjoy this hodge-podge of innovative Spain-based startups!
Innovating medicine with wearables
I’ll start with my favorite that I’ve followed since first writing about them in 2012: Neuroelectrics. Throughout this article, you’ll see that innovation can mean a lot of things, but CEO Catalana Ana Maiques suits all definitions. She and her team are working on the greatest mystery: the human brain. Basically, they produce the wireless hardware — rather like a hi-tech swim cap — software, cloudware, and entire healthcare platforms to monitor the brain in a new way. They work with veterans and people with Alzheimer’s and autism, among others, at medical institutions and at home. While Maiques and her team work with veterans and teaching hospitals in the U.S., she never fails to return for local startups events, giving back to the brand Made in Spain.
Innovating how we get stuff
2. Glovo app
As an expat, I order a lot of stuff online. I have had deliveries arrive on bike, on foot, on scooter, in rolly-cart, and in vans. Flat, sunny Barcelona is a true innovator with delivery. The newly funded, less than 1-year-old Glovo app provides on-demand delivery from any restaurant or store in your city within the hour for a flat rate of €5.50, all from within their app, with couriers earning more than half that plus tips. They don’t care how it gets to you; they just care that they can work locally and efficiently.
I was reticent to talk about the well funded, possibly unicorn status startup Wallapop, despite so many people telling me it needs to be on this list. After all, being an American, Craigslist has been in my life for decades, although nothing quite like it has ever caught on here.
With a Pinterest doppelganger-like user experience, Wallapop pops out because it focuses on the distance between sellers/buyers, compared to other services, perfect for those of us sin coche. Its innovation comes from appealing to us lazy humans who will be more likely to check something out if it’s nearer to us, and it takes away the risk if something turns out to not be good. Plus, I have to admit its objective is pretty rad—to limit the Internet between us and encourage a world where we meet face-to-face.
What makes TypeForm kind of cool is it makes forms — contact forms, questionnaires, exams, job apps, and patient intakes — fun, like a conversation. In a touchscreen world, it’s revolutionizing some of the most boring and, let’s face it, most stressful moments with a great gamified Q&A that is supposed to have the highest response rate in the industry.
They have raised an impressive $17.25 million in total funding, with the bulk of it coming from a $15 million Series A round in September. Plus, they’re rumored to have a fantastic company culture!
Innovating the way we shop
5. Shot & Shop
So you see something you kind of want, but you’re not sure if it’s the best price or if it’s socially unacceptable to ask where that stranger on the street or that celebrity sighting in a magazine got her super cute boots. With Shot & Shop, you have a real-time visual search where you snap a shot and image recognition will find and compare whatever it is you want online with pricing, place of purchase and everything.
Beacon technology will reinvent the retail industry with location-based, contextual-aware, personalized marketing campaigns. MOCA stands out for its machine learning approach. Because of its ML technology, campaigns become intuitively more accurate to the user as time goes on, all while protecting customer identity.
You don’t necessarily need to search the ends of the world or the world wide web to reach your customers or for them to find you. Local is more than a hipster trend: It’s a way of life.
Luraki acts as your matchmaker connecting local producers to local buyers. It enables the consumer to understand the story of their food and to connect with local food providers.
Innovating the world of big data
With every device, connection, and app, we’re creating more than we could ever imagine. But we haven’t done a lot with it yet. Similar to the way MOCA follows our in-store behavior, Marfeel follows website user patterns and intuitively adopts the website layout to match patterns for better user engagement and conversion. It also raised a nice sized $3.5 million Series B funding round in October.
CartoDB has an API — the application programming interface that glues our interconnected world together — that allows any kind of app connecting to it to turn all that location-based data into a visual map, allowing any industry to chart its course. Maps are an increasingly useful way to display information, particularly in the age of big data, and the company has been able to ride the funding wave well: It raised an enormous $23 million Series B funding round in September.
Which Spanish startup will innovate Spain in 2016?
While I was trying to dwindle down my search, I found this awesome scholarship to be the next awesome Spanish startup via a paid internship in 2016. Perhaps you can be on the list next year.
The views expressed are of the author.
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