Alex Barrera: think globally, invest locally

Artur Kurasiński
2 września 2010
Ten artykuł przeczytasz w 6 minut

Z oficjalnego profilu Aleksa na E-nnovation: „Alex Barrera jest przedsiębiorcą zajmującym się wszelkimi kwestiami związanymi ze startupami. Z wykształcenia jest informatykiem, zajmował się wieloma dziedzinami: od bezpieczeństwa IT do sztucznej inteligencji, Systemów Informacji Geograficznej i aplikacji webowych…

Od kilku lat jest jednym z najbardziej aktywnych przedsiębiorców w Hiszpanii, a jego celem jest stworzenie europejskiej społeczności kreatywnych ludzi biznesu, która mogłabym konkurować z Doliną Krzemową (mimo, że właśnie stamtąd pochodzi większość jego znajomych).

Jest Dyrektorem Generalnym i założycielem, inteligentnego agregatora wiadomości; współzałożycielem Tetuan Valley, międzynarodowego inkubatora startupów. Jest także partnerem w Okuri Ventures, przedstawicielem Sandbox Network w Madrycie oraz doradcą w madryckim Startup Digest.”

AK74 – Alex congratulate the win FIFA World Cup! Expect to win? :)

Alex Barrera – Haha thanks a lot! Not really! I knew we had a great team but I wasn’t expecting to win. As a matter of fact I was on my honeymoon and only saw the final. But oh it was awesome! ;)

AK74 – What is now the economic situation in Spain? Easier or harder to assume their own business when everyone is talking about the crisis?

Economic situation in Spain is bad but not as bad as most media outlets print. It’s just hard to find a new job and most salaries are frozen. Companies are shoving expenses so people are scared of getting fired. Apart from that, starting your own business here has always been hard, no matter the economic situation.

To some extend is actually easier now ad most people are preaching that being an entrepreneur is the way to get out of this crisis. I agree with them, but not because of that, but because during a downturn it’s when you’ll find the most interesting opportunities.

One thing is really hard is access to capital. If you’re bootstrapping your company it’s ok, but getting funded in Spain right now is next to impossible. Investors are VERY risk adverse here and the situation doesn’t helps.

AK74 – Some of your friends and come from Silicon Valley – so why do not you went to the U.S. and create new start-ups there? Europe is more attractive?

AB – I did study abroad, in UC Berkeley and I fall in love with the Bay Area. One of the main reasons I’m not there is because of the visa. You need either to have $1M to get an investor visa or get a working visa, something which is extremely hard.

That’s the reason why some guys, spearheaded by Dave McClure have been fighting for a Startup Visa, something which hopefully will be a reality this or next year. On the other hand, I realized that for much of what I do, I can be based anywhere in the world as long as I keep in touch with my people all over the world.

There are few things you can do that can’t be done from Europe. My only regret it’s the density of interesting people to meet. In the Bay Area you bump into cool and interesting people every single day, it’s one of the largest intellectual hubs on Earth. That’s something we’re missing in Europe and would be great to have.

AK74 – In your opinion – who will win the race for being the largest company of new technologies – Apple, Google or Facebook?

AB – hehe interesting question :P It’s kind of hard, all 3 work on different spaces so it’s not fair to compare them. If I had to pick one that would probably be Apple. They’re doing a great job reshaping the consumer electronics market and they keep innovating. Facebook is well, Facebook.

They only care about growing their core business,so not much innovation going on there. And Google, what can I say, I guess they’ve reached a point where they can’t be as innovative as before. If I had to pick a favorite company in tech, that would be Amazon :) Amazing job they’re doing at reinventing themselves, from the Kindle to AWS.

AK74 – Are you scared about your privacy on the Internet? Or rather this is the problem created by the media?

Not at all. I used to work in computer security and I used to be quite paranoid. After poking for some time around the social media stuff I realized there’s been a change in paradigms. Right now we are like rock stars, always on, always subject to scrutiny, etc. That means you have to behave.

Most people don’t get this and end up having problems. As I always say, best way to keep your privacy is not uploading it to the Internet. I’m amazed at how many people that know me are baffled by me not uploading parts of my private life.

They don’t get that I only send to the Internet what’s not private for me or what I don’t care if it goes public. This simple rule is what most people don’t understand. You don’t need to fear privacy, you just need to understand how it works.

AK74 – Are you a co-founder of Tetuan Valley, an international incubator startups. What exactly does your company?

We started the program as a way to train young people in the startup way. In Europe there isn’t a large culture of entrepreneurship if you compare it with the US. That means that most teenagers just don’t even think about starting a company. We wanted to change that.

We wanted to show them that there is something else, that you don’t need to work for the government. We wanted to bring the silicon Valley mentality to Spain. The experiment was a huge success. Not only we manage to get great startups going, but we manage to create a very powerful community of entrepreneurs that think alike.

We are now growing into a reference hub of entrepreneur in Spain and in Europe. that’s just something amazing because finally we have a place we can bump into great people without flying to the US.

AK74 – Does anyone of Polish can write to you asking you to consider the idea? Do you regret not invested in

We would love to have European company. Actually it’s our goal! Last edition we nearly got some Indian startup. Problem is, as always, a cash problem. For now, the program is self funded so we don’t have enough cash to bring teams from Europe.

We would love to have them, but most European teams need some cash to stay in Madrid for 6 weeks, something we would love to have but we don’t right now. That doesn’t means we don’t want them to come. we would be thrilled! The bigger the mix, the better!

About NK hehe, I wished we could be investors! In the end, you end up investing in people, not ideas. I love some of our teams, not because I think their idea is specially brilliant but because they’ll achieve great things in the future. We kind of work as head hunters for startups, which, in Europe is kind of hard because of the lack of entrepreneur density.

AK74 – What do you think are the three most profitable lines of development in which we invest today?

I would say mobile + geolocalization is one. Even though there are now plenty of mobile apps, there is still so much to do. Most companies just pull out a mobile app, but it’s just a stripped down version of their main site. I don’t see mobile in that way.

I think it should be an independent product with different features. Another interesting trend are the social CRMs, that is, sentiment analysis and customer leads support on social media like Twitter, Facebook, etc. More and more companies are starting into the social media arena and they don’t have enterprise tools to deal with it.

There is a huge market there willing to pay for it. Of course, along these lines, SaaS services for companies are also sexy. They aren’t sexy for many entrepreneurs because you won’t get on Techcrunch with them, but they can bring home a lot of money if you hit a sweet spot.

AK74 – This is title of your speech: „Think globally, act locally: the Experience Tetuan Valley” What can we expect – you will tell us how to do business with no money?:)

As I said before, even though I’m located in Spain, I travel often around the world. I have plenty of friends from the 7 corners of the globe. One thing I’ve learned and that I stress our teams is the fact that to do business on the Internet era, you MUST think about your market as a global market. Everything you design, code or promote should be global.

The problem is that you can’t always act global. Depending on the country and culture you need to adapt there first if you want to achieve world domination :P

I’ll illustrate how important this is, how you can do it with few money and the problems you normally find. I’ll talk about how we got Tetuan Valley from the ground and even though we’re internationally focused, we’ve had to fight a lot of our battles locally. I want to share with everyone our story and how they can do it too.

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