Unlike many European emerging nationsSpain doesn’t just have one city at the forefront of exciting tech start-ups and startups. The long-standing rivalry between Madrid and Barcelona, most famous in iconic football Calendar of “El Clásico” – also extends to start-ups, with cities sharing the spoils for the number of scaled-up businesses created and capital raised.
But other Spanish regions are increasingly creating their own high-profile success stories, far from the bright lights of the country’s two main cities. Flywire, the multimillion-dollar payment provider now based in Boston, was founded in Valencia in 2011, while ticket distributor Ticketbis, acquired by Ebay in 2016, began his life in Bilbao. Other scaleups from across Spain include Odilo, founded in Cartagena Y Jeff, founded in Valencia.
So, as Spain continues to assert its reputation as a rising star of European innovation, what are the under-the-radar startups to watch, building businesses out of Madrid and Barcelona?
Sifted asked four Top VCs investing in Spain to pick the startups they have their eyes on. There was only one rule: only one of the companies they chose could come from their own portfolio.
Hugo Mardomingo, All iron companies
All iron companies is an early-stage venture capital firm located in Bilbao that launched its first fund in 2020 and writes checks ranging between €300,000 and €3 million. The company’s portfolio includes medium-term rental platform Spotahome, micromobility company Lime and revenue-based financing provider Uncovered.
This startup from Coruña, Galicia is developing a SaaS platform that allows you to visually build frictionless registration and authentication flows with any back-end stack.
ScrapAd, founded in the Basque city of Eibar, operates a B2B marketplace for recyclable materials in more than 60 countries, reducing the friction of finding a buyer for your waste materials and promoting the use of recyclable materials by producers.
This software startup from Oviedo, Asturias, has developed a kit to create augmented reality experiences in an easy and profitable way, without the need for prior knowledge. Onirix acts as a low-code and no-code platform for newcomers to the space.
Founded in Huesca, Aragón, IriusRisk is a cybersecurity platform that performs automated threat models for software developers. It is a niche but fast growing space within cybersecurity and IriusRisk has the potential to become a world leader.
One of the portfolio: Aplanet
From All Iron’s hometown of Bilbao, Aplanet offers a software solution for organizations to easily manage, track and display their ESG activity. Aplanet eliminates the challenges associated with collecting robust sustainability data by automating the collection process, aggregating data across organizations or client portfolios, and facilitating sharing with stakeholders.
Aquilino Peña, founding partner of Kibo Ventures
kibo companies is a fund based in Madrid, which invests from late seed to Series A, issuing checks between 1 and 5 million euros. The company’s portfolio includes the NFT trading card game So weirdthe Swedish scooter company Tier and the payment platform Flywire.
Based in La Coruña, Kibus is a last mile delivery solution for food market stalls. The company has dedicated staff in the markets who collect and deliver fresh produce to customers. For customers, products can be easily ordered via an app, and the stalls themselves drive upsells.
This Valencia startup is developing a cloud-based, no-code tool to automate spreadsheets and create seamless workflows. The company has won big partnerships with Google, Microsoft and Dropbox, and counts Spotify as a client.
The football news and statistics site, founded in Malaga, has grown to have more than 90 million users worldwide. The company has reached this stage with very little investment and claims to be the most comprehensive soccer database in the world, having collected over 95% of documented global match results from 1874 to 2020.
One from the portfolio: Green Eagle
This software firm from Seville uses AI to optimize the operation and maintenance of solar and wind farms. They are already working with some of the largest operators in 19 countries operating more than 250 plants. The company had grown without capital until we invested to finance its international growth.
Lourdes Alvarez de Toledo, JME Companies
JME Ventures is one of the most established seed stage companies in Spain and invests mainly in Spain, issuing checks of 500,000 to 2 million euros. The firm’s portfolio includes the employment platform Jobandtalent, startup of quantum computing multiverse computing and the payment company Flywire.
Founded in Valencia, Voicemod is a leading creator of real-time voice changing for gamers. The company has over 30 million downloads and half of its users are from the US and has enjoyed exponential viral growth. It grossed €8M in 2020 and generated revenue of €9M in 2021, growing 50% year-on-year.
Pet insurance and an online veterinarian start up from La Coruna. The startup offers an AI-powered classification system to help users decide if their pet needs medical help. Barkibu has grown exponentially and has an extensive network of veterinary clinics, having closed €5m Series A rounds last year.
This Seville-based startup is the leading restaurant reservation platform in Spain and already operates in 25 countries. The company has 100 employees and recently sold part of the company to Spanish tech veteran Félix Ruiz for a valuation of €140 million.
Oriol Juncosa, Entrusts Smart Capital
Encomenda Smart Capital is a seed stage company based in Barcelona, investing in start-ups in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, issuing checks of €150k-1m. Its portfolio includes investment and financial planning app Goin, chatbot provider Landbot, and crypto investment platform Atani.
This online booking platform for glamping travelers was founded in Seville and is now a leading booking platform for luxury campsites. The company has over 20k properties listed on its website from over 100 different countries.
Juncosa also named Barkibu and Voicemod among their top three picks.
Tim Smith is the Iberia correspondent for Sifted. He tweets from @timmpsmith