Startup Genome Highlights: Barcelona, Spain

Next up in our “Startup Genome Highlights” video series is Scott Mackin (@scottjmackin), an American expatriate, who shares information with us on his adopted community: Barcelona, Spain.

In the video, Scott mentions:


Geoff: Welcome back to the Startup Genome highlight series, our weekly video blog where we talk with different community builders around the world about their communities and what makes them unique. This week we’re talking with Scott Mackin in Barcelona, Spain. Scott is originally from Boston but has been in Barcelona for about 3 years, so he has an interesting take on the community. Scott, maybe we’ll just start by asking what is it that makes Barcelona unique to you?

Scott: Thanks Geoff. I think the number one maybe most unique part about Barcelona is just how international this city really is and it really speaks to the origins of this city in general. Kind of having this geographic strategic location that has really brought travelers for centuries to this area. Having that international appeal at its core its always guaranteed to have fresh ideas, fresh thinking and a lot of new startups coming through. Especially with the quality of life here and the relatively low cost of living compared to the rest of Europe. You can find a lot of great talent here, access and build a good team and start new projects.

Geoff: And, outside of curating the Startup Genome map, what is it that you do in Barcelona?

Scott: So I came to Barcelona about two and a half years ago for an MBA program and almost immediately got involved in the startup scene here. I had my own startup in the U.S. prior to moving here and so I really wanted to dig in and see what was going on here. One of the things I quickly noticed was there was no one really telling the stories that were going on here. After a year of working for a few different startups and getting involved in some projects, I started something called Barcinno, which is essentially a daily tech resource for Barcelona startups in tech and innovation that we try to share the stories going on here in English with the international community.

Geoff: That’s awesome. I have a background in some of that from my community as well and I think when you start telling the stories of the entrepreneurs is when people start to realize that there is a startup community. So it’s awesome to see you do that. What would you say is working best in Barcelona as far as the startup community at this point?

Scott: I would say, in a word, its enthusiasm. This city for the past three to five years has just had an explosion of entrepreneurial activity and initiatives and workshops and hack-a-thons. It’s not just the entrepreneurs or investors or even the startups themselves. Everybody here has become a stakeholder. Even traditional organizations, law firms, government, schools, they all want to get involved. You see 100 year old law firms partnering with young accelerators to offer free legal advice to startups. And you see universities attracting some of the best speakers in the world to come visit this city and teach the young generation of entrepreneurs coming up. So I think the one thing that is really working is that kind of inspirational enthusiasm.

Geoff: That’s great. What are the types of events going on? Like if you have one event that you say this is my favorite event that we do in Barcelona, what event would that be?

Scott: Well, on the kind of grand global stage, of course you have Mobile World Congress every February here, and that’s going to be here through 2018. And Sonar, the huge festival in June is certainly a favorite. And this year was actually the first year Sonar kind of took a step in the direction of becoming a South by Southwest. They’re doing Sonar +D now. So it’s kind of like the development design feel and a lot of startup pitches and rallies and initiatives around that. So those are two kind of highlights of the year here, definitely. But on a more intimate level, theres a great group here called Barcelona IO that has built a great startup entrepreneur community and they partner with The Next Web and TechCrunch to do some events every six months or so. There’s a great annual event called White Bull Summits that focuses on exit strategies for startups, which isn’t a typical topic for startups so thats always a good one that comes around. And then next week we actually have one kind of exclusive event called Foundum Unplugged which brings in venture capital firms from all over the continent to interact with primarily Spanish startups.

Geoff: Ok, cool. Next time I’m in Barcelona, is there one place that I can go where I’ll be sure and run into entrepreneurs. Maybe a coffee shop or bar or coworking place?

Scott: Definitely the coworking scene. That’s another very fast growing trend in Barcelona is the amount of coworking spaces there are, which creates competition. And they all, in order to kind of win that battle you need to create a community. A few that come to the top of mind is Mob, the Makers of Barcelona. Cecilia Tham, she’s done a great job building this great coworking space that is also has a maker space in the basement. They do weekly events. Always creating new content and workshops there. I think they’re even working on a Fab Cafe. So that might be the new cafe to hang out at. Another one is Itnig. Itnig community is an accelerator / incubator and co-working space. But they do Itnig Friday’s every week. That’s always something really practical hands-on workshops. And they get 60 or 70 people every week drinking free beer and swapping practical advice.

Geoff: Alright, I definitely want to check those out next time I’m there. We’re kind of running a little bit short on time so I may ask just, what can other people in the Startup Genome community, other community builders on world, what can they do to help you and what you guys are working on in Barcelona?

Scott: I would say drop us a line. Come visit. Share your best practices with us so we can learn and we’ll try and do the same. Keep us in mind, especially if you want to know what’s going on in Barcelona. Checkout, we’re trying to tell those stories and connect with the international crowd. And if you have any questions about what’s going on here, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn or however.

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