5 Reasons why we moved our Startup to Barcelona



4 min

Here’s a quick intro on how Reloadly got started

Reloadly  is a tech startup based in Barcelona, founded by some former CallDirek members.  Mobile top ups were also first introduced to the market by Calldirek in 2004 in partnerships with Haiti’s mobile operator “Comcel” (later changed their name to Voila). The technical process and business model for top ups was very much old school and outdated, which still remains unchanged for today’s current players. API integrations with mobile operators and providers are a real pain point for the actual developers in charge of the integrations due to their outdated APIs and legacy systems. After selling Calldirek in 2016, Michel Francis saw this as a huge opportunity to revolutionize mobile top up industry by solving the problem rooted in code.   Reloadly took a very messy and complex world of mobile top ups reduced it to simple API calls (PASS), designed for developer acceptance. There’s 4.5 billion prepaid mobile subscribers worldwide, and getting access to reload their phones should be available everywhere to the masses.

After spending 12 years running a company in Miami, FL, the founders of Reloadly wanted to relocate somewhere that they could flourish within a great startup ecosystem.  They wanted to be somewhere new where the team can get inspired with a high level of qualify of life, and access to great talent which would not break the bank. After months of debating where the best city would be to relocate, the founders decided that Barcelona checked all of the boxes.

If one thing has become clear on a business and economic scale in 2018, it is that foreign companies have fallen in love with Catalonia and Barcelona . And it is that the news of multinationals that have landed in the Catalan market or have chosen the capital as their headquarters to serve southern Europe have been repeated continuously throughout the year. VIA Company reviews all those companies that have opted for the territory and have demonstrated, once again, that Barcelona is powerful.

Why does the Catalan territory attract so many companies, especially in the tech sector? Here’s 5 reasons why we choose to move our startup to Barcelona.

  1. The Culture: You can almost feel it in the air, the startup culture is great here because its attractive to startup founders with the combination of high a high quality of life and a great atmosphere to work in.  There a work life balance that is unmatched in Barcelona vs places like Silicone Valley, New York or London. The sun, the beach, the mountains and the diversity of nationalities makes Barcelona’s startup culture an excellent place to host your next venture.
  2. The Ecosystem: With big players already settled in Barcelona – such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, or Cisco; with a rich International startup ecosystem, including companies and founders, networking events and an increasing number of international creative and co-working business and community spaces for startups; with Internationally recognized congresses and tech fairs (IOT, Mobile World Congress, Smart City Congress, Big Data Congress, EU-Startups Summit). The ecosystem is indeed an inspiring tool for startups to foster in Barcelona. In fact, Barcelona is ranked the 4th smartest city in the world emphasizing the city’s efforts to promote technology. Barcelona is also maintained, accord. The collection of indicators of the Observatori Barcelona also includes the Startup Heathmape Europe Report that Atomico produces. Barcelona is ranked in 3rd position as the best European city to locate your startup . .
  3. Ease of Funding: The latest data released by the Ministry of Economy for the third quarter of 2018 indicate that Catalonia has received 845 million euros of foreign investment, 56% more than a year ago. There’s plenty of VCs and Angels investors in Barcelona that are very open to doing business.  The network effects are great, everyone knows everybody similar to like a small community that is keen to foster the startup environment with funding and accelerator programs. The tech startup blog Barcinno has a list of the major investment groups in Barcelona. Barcelona also has  Accio, a government agency in charge of helping startups with funding and grants which come in very usefull for startups looking to raise capital.
  4. Top Talent: Quality of life, which is a magnet for talent attraction. I am talking about climate and landscape; of social cohesion and the fact of being a compact city; and a land with an international population as well as with an international culture. Barcelona is also home to excellent business schools like IESE and ESADE which makes it attractive for startups to recruit top tier talent.
  5. Lower Costs of operations. There no doubt that the Spain has one of the lowest cost of living in Europe. Barcelona in particular is very attractive to startups who can acquire top level talent without breaking the bank. With Low rent, internet connection, labor, transportation, corporate tax, health insurance and even basic necessities like groceries sets a good recipe for startups in Barcelona. When bootstrapping your operations, every penny counts and Barcelona give you the big city tools without the the high costs.

Barcelona strategic point

Now, not only multinationals have fallen in love with Barcelona to be a reference technology hub and bet on innovation, but also to be a strategic point in installing large offices outside their home territory.

In 2018, the first one that has done it has been Chartboost , based in San Francisco and last year in May opened its European engineering office in Barcelona. A few days later they joined the Moodle idea , Lidl and Elis. The Australian company opened its base of operations and first office outside the country in the Catalan city, while Lidl announced the installation of its European center of excellence in Barcelona, which will create 250 jobs for technical profiles. In addition, the French Elis opened the plant in June Spain’s largest industrial laundry in the Zona Franca de Barcelona.

Also, the American multinational Nike has chosen Barcelona to premiere its new concept of Nike Live store in Europe throughout 2019. And the company has chosen the Catalan capital as one of the 12 cities in the world to develop the your business. (source www.viaempresa.cat)

When choosing where to base your startup, we suggest that you prepare a checklist with all your requirements. Then do a simple comparative analysis in what your top city picks has to offer. From there you will be able to narrow down to your top three and chose from there. For us, the tech startup ecosystem in Barcelona was ideal for what we were looking for in terms of network effects and an ecosystem structured in all levels to help boost the startups and the community.

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