For all its excitement, entrepreneurship can be isolating. Creating something from nothing, pitching for investment, risking it all for a dream… it’s clear: ‘starting up’ is not always simple. But while the word ‘start-up’ might once have conjured visions of Silicon Valley, another less-obvious country has been steadily establishing itself as the next innovation nation: Spain.

One such example is Barcelona’s 4FYN, one of the world’s leading start-up congresses, linked to the legendary Mobile World Congres. Its simple motto, ‘Connecting start-ups’, belies the brand’s impressive scope as the world’s largest exhibition for the start-up mobile industry. Last year, the Barcelona event attracted 23,000 attendees from 147 countries, 760 exhibitors and sponsors, and 420 speakers across seven stages. More than 950 investors attended to hear more than 300 pitches.

The 2020 event, taking place from 24 to 26 February, promises to be bigger and better still, with more than 800 exhibitors, as well as top speakers so far including David Siegel (CEO of community network Meetup) and Helen Fuchs (design director at award-winning digital studio Ustwo).

Overall, 4YFN seeks to provide real community and creative forward thinking. In fact, the clue is in the name: it means ‘4 Years From Now’. In other words: the start-ups will be changing the world by then.

Spanish Startups and Intelectium

Providing yet more community is the homegrown entrepreneurial network Spanish artups, which offers links to workshops and courses on key skills such as product design and sales. With more than 100,000 members to date, it is proof of just how fast the sector is growing in the country. As Diego Docavo from Spanish Startups says: “We believe that Spanish talent is brilliant, competitive and with enormous potential; and Spain’s culture, training and lifestyle fit perfectly with the ‘startup mindset’. Startups are looking for opportunities and we in Spain want and know how to promote them.” Subvenciona’m, on the other hand, is a start-up that helps other start-ups and innovative businesses by finding them grands that might suit them and by guiding them through the process.

Another example is the funding accelerator Intelectium, which has offices in Barcelona and Madrid. Founded in 2004, it describes itself as “obsessed with supporting entrepreneurs who seek to solve real problems in society”, and offers personalised advice and funding – both private and public – to exciting tech start-ups. Over the past 15 years, it has successfully channelled millions of euros across more than 300 clients, and this year will launch a brand-new Business Angels club. “Spain is becoming an important global and European hub,” explains Intelectium’s Inés Martínez Mate. “Not only for its great climate, tourism and good quality of life, but for the relative affordability. Big companies are coming here, government funding is available, and external investors now have us in their sights. More Spanish start-ups are succeeding, such as transport app Cabify and courier app Glovo. There are so many possibilities. Spain is a business ecosystem to watch.”

Do you want to meet these innovative entrepreneurs, as well? We went to talk with the brilliant minds behind some of Spain’s most promising start-ups.

Find out more here:

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