Àlex Rodríguez Bacardit explains the advantages of investing in startups in pre-seed phases in the Canary Islands
Àlex Rodríguez Bacardit, founder and CEO of MarsBased and business angel, explains the advantages of investing in startups in pre-seed phases and illustrates the characteristics of the first steps in creating a startup: what we need to know, how to do it and where.
Question: As an of introduction, what would you highlight the most from your profile?
Answer: I run a development company called MarsBased, which is what led me to be able to do this. I have had this company for eight years; has a team of twenty people distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula. As we have grown, launched projects and met clients, I have been given the opportunity to start investing as a business angel.
Q: To a person who has just graduated from university, what advice would he give before setting up a startup?
A: Don't waste your time with business schools. Regulated training is usually the enemy of entrepreneurship. I consider that when I started with my company I wasted a lot of time in training, in the end you realize that true learning is obtained by doing things. You learn through action.
Q: Do you think it is a mistake to undertake out of necessity?
A: It is a mistake and foolishness. It is also true that sometimes the best projects come out of desperation, I don't think there is a rule for everyone. Yes, I am against people who undertake for fashion. We are seeing that everyone builds their company and gets money and in the end you find projects with very little substance that lower the average quality of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which generates false expectations.
Q: Before setting up a startup, do you do any prior validation?
A: I think that everything that you cannot validate with sales before setting up a startup should not be built.
Before setting up a project I sell the idea. I ask myself: “If I put this together are you going to pay for it? Can you pay for it now?”, always with the promise that if I don't put it together I'll pay you back.
Q: Have you had any experience in the field of startups arising from professional training? Do you think it is a favorable space for the creation of startups
A: I have not had it because my collaborations with educational centers are very scarce. I haven't gone through professional training, but I have gone through university, although I didn't end up very happy. What I do see is that the technical profiles we work with at MarsBased from professional training are people much more prepared to undertake, who might not fit into the professional environment of a large corporation, but who end up doing better in uncertain environments, as is a startup.
Q: What do you think of international mixed teams of entrepreneurs? What experiences do you have in this regard?
A: In the team that I have at Startup Grind Barcelona, we are people from four or five different countries. Clearly this has a positive effect that is seen in the quality of ideas, in team dynamics and in retention issues.
Q: Have you ever had experience with startups in the Canary Islands?
A: Once or twice a year I spend a couple of weeks on the islands to do remote work.
I remember being in La Palma a few years ago, in the only coworking that existed, there I was able to contact many marketing companies. You can always learn and discover things from its ecosystem that you end up liking a lot.
It is a very good destination to go to work. If they could further promote the reception of digital nomads and companies that are self-financed, they could become a very interesting HUB at a European level.
Q: What potential would you see in a region like the Canary Islands and an island like La Palma?
A: It is easier to create companies in the Canary Islands than in the rest of Spain, which is always appreciated. In some way, I think that the attraction of talents who want to work remotely, as well as the digital nomad, could be greatly enhanced.
Another resource that they could take advantage of is the organization of conferences, it has everything at the landscape level: mountains, beaches, good weather... Being able to combine conferences with first-class leisure can always be advantageous.
Q: Do you think there is a trend to invest in more and more early stage startups? How do you personally position yourself before these phases?
A: Yes there is. There is a war, a race. Increasingly, venture capital want to enter business earlier, when they normally enter big opportunities late. There are more and more investors and more competition.
Personally, I am one of those who invests as soon as possible. I think I have a competitive advantage over other investors, and that is that I run a development agency; Entrepreneurs come to me asking for a budget to raise capital, which allows me to see the project before anyone else and bet on it if I really like it.
Q: What should a startup have achieved before starting to seek investment in an ideation or pre-SEED phase?
A: Business and sales validation. There are people who will say to focus on finding marketfeed and metrics, but I don't usually invest in any project that doesn't have sales. I usually invest in healthy projects and not in those that have investors tied with a rope around their necks because at that moment they have no sales.
Q: What advice would you give to a person who wants to start investing in startups in very early stages?
A: Be careful. It is a very screwed up world and there is no documentation or references. People who come from a humble background and who have ended up in this type of business are lost, because sometimes we don't even know if we have to certify ourselves to be business angels.
What I do recommend is that no one pays to learn how to do this.