Emilio Márquez on the digitalization of entrepreneurship and startups in the Canary Islands

Emilio Márquez

Emilio Márquez began his entrepreneurial career almost as soon as the internet did. In 1992 he already joined the network and in 1995 he began his journey through the world of startups. His profile ranges from a speaker to a mentor to other entrepreneurs, to being an ambassador for some brands. His current goal is to participate in promoting the digital transformation of business.

Among his experiences, he has been a mentor, for several years, of entrepreneurs belonging to the university environment. He affirms that in these types of places there are many ideas to be developed at the same time as a need to learn from practice.

For this reason, he advises starting an integration process in existing startups with which he can get along at the level of values. There you can acquire the necessary knowledge that “only real life can give you”. Before setting up your own company, the ideal would be to be trained at several levels: the first, practical; the second, the contacts; the third, clear ideas about what product you are going to develop.

Undertaking out of necessity is a mistake for Márquez. He emphasizes that it is a difficult and complex process, “with a lot of risk and possible damage to the heritage itself.” It is essential to have a good team and a fund that is known to be “burned” in the next 18 months. Having a “financial desperation” is not compatible with a project in which “you don't know if in the first two years you are going to invoice one euro”.

In his analysis to know if a project is viable to be able to invest, Márquez has several points in mind. The first of these consists of observing if the company is scalable and if it can achieve “certain economic milestones”. The next thing he studies is whether the company can end up becoming a self-employment. He is clear that he does not have to be the best company or appear in Forbes magazine.

Finally, he has to make sure that the product sells. The main thing is that you succeed and do it with the minimum investment expense. For Emilio Márquez “the best validation of any project is that it solves a real problem”.

Regarding the relocation of teams, he assures that many startups have their teams divided around the globe. This helps to attract talented members who collaborate in the growth and expansion of the company. This talent “can be in Spain, Lisbon, Los Angeles or Mexico City.”

However, he explains that there must be an understanding of each country with which you work. Each region has its own idiosyncrasies, a culture and a way of reaching the market that works differently. Every time a relationship is established with a new Latin American country, like any other, it must be approached as a new market.

About the Canary Islands and tokenization

Returning to Spanish territory, specifically the Canary Islands, Márquez has collaborated with the University of La Laguna, in Tenerife, giving classes to entrepreneurs who came from there. He narrates that he had the opportunity to educate them and guide them in the process of launching projects.

Emilio Márquez considers that investment in early stages is not as developed as it should be. However, the number of public and private entities that “are focusing on this investment segment” is increasing. Personally, Marquez prefers to enter when he not only invests money but also his skills. The purpose of it is to help speed up the process of obtaining goals.

Before seeking this investment, startups must have achieved a series of objectives. The team is essential and must have clear ideas as well as being cohesive. They must have signed a partner agreement stating what happens if the company does not work. Finally, it is advisable that they “have some homework done”, that is, that they can demonstrate that their product works and sells.

Although his experience with tokenization is short, he receives quite positive feedback from his market. “It is worth studying, working on, and possibly implementing” so that startups can expand.

To those who want to invest in this type of startup, Márquez advises that they take it as a “little adventure”. It is very likely that in the first few years he will see no benefit. The investment must be made little by little and the experience must be taken as training.

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