Presenting Scaling Up: The Internationalization of Spanish Technology-Based Startups

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

On Wednesday, June 21st,  Scaleup: How to successfully manage growth professor Joe Haslam introduced Scaling Up: The Internationalization of Spanish Technology-Based Startups (Internacionalización de start-ups españolas de base tecnológica)  in Madrid’s iconic Casa América building. Attendees were graced with two panels, as well as a presentation of the study by Joe Haslam. The IE Business School study was sponsored in conjunction with Correos, Lufthansa, and ADigital (The Spanish Digital Economy Association).


The third edition of this study, in the words of Igor Galo Anza, Director of Communications for Latin America aims to measure in which markets Spanish tech-based startups are setting up shop and the rhythm of which they are doing so. For many tech-based companies, the market in which they operate is international just about from day one.


The event first began with a panel from three distinguished guests (and sponsors of the study): Director of International Business at Correos Enrique Sánchez, Casa América Programming Director Carlos Blasco, and Pierre Braque, Senior Sales Products for Spain & Portugal at Lufthansa Airlines. Sánchez, who is an IE alumnus, talked about how Correos, the Spanish national mail service is aiming to become a world leader in global e-commerce by growing export services for Spanish companies into international markets. These efforts include collaborations with the relevant stakeholders in relevant emerging markets such as China.


Presenting the Study

Haslam’s presentation of the report first began with an overview of his activities both in business and at IE. From his beginnings at Marrakech, Hot Hotels, and his variety of offerings at IE. These include the Owners Management Program, his Scaling Your Startup elective, and of course, the Scaleup: How to Successfully Manage Growth HiOP. Of the different course formats, Haslam commented that the online format allows students to review the material multiple times.


After the personal introduction, Haslam gave a general overview of what the term “scaleup” entails. While we go more into detail about this in The Scaleup in Brief, the scaling phase, as highlighted in this image, the scaleup is about crossing the bridge that comes from transitioning from validating the business model and then contemplating the next steps needed to grow.

Metaphorically, as Haslam exemplified in the title of this slide, if you are a hunter in the startup stage, in the scaleup stage you are transitioning towards being a farmer. You’ll find the scaleup in between the steps of the product-market fit and product-market dominance.

Who participated?

73 Internet-based companies with their headquarters in Spain, founded in Spain, with both local and foreign capital, and are their entities. These companies comprise about 5,000 jobs, and they bill more than €600,000,000. They were surveyed in 2016. Participating companies included Ticketbis, Spotahome (founded in IE’s Area 31 startup incubator), Glovo, and Atrápalo.  

What did the study measure?

Survey participants were asked questions related to the markets outside of Spain, the proportion of their revenues coming from abroad, and what parts of the world they are looking to grow in 2017 and 2018, the growth prospects at home and abroad. They were also asked questions regarding the distribution of their labor force between employees, collaborators, and freelancers, the proportion of women in their companies (both in management and as part of the total workforce), and challenges.

What does internationalization hold for their future?

84% of those subjects believe that in 3 years, their business abroad will exceed their domestic one.

What are the main impediments for the surveyed companies as they develop their businesses?

Those surveyed see these as their primary challenges:

  • Local competition: This was cited by 51% of respondents for Europe, 42% for the United States, and 14% for Latin America.
  • International competition: 47% of subjects stated this for the United States, 35% for Europe, and 20% for Latin America.
  • Cultural differences: This was cited as more of a challenge for operating in Europe, with 20% of those surveyed mentioning it. 10% cited it as a problem for working in the US market and 17% in Latin America.
  • The market is not mature: This challenge is the most significant for operating in Latin America, with 45% of those surveyed stating that it is a challenge.


To wrap things up, a panel

To end the event, Joe moderated a panel about tourism as an exporting sector for tech services. The panelists were Destinia Communications Director Amaia Arteta; Founder and CEO of Byhours Christian Rodríguez Fornos; and Chief Product and Strategy Director at Minube Gonzalo Moreno de León. The panelists talked about themes related to the study’s results in their companies, but the main takeaway was “the best way of protesting is to an entrepreneur.”

Want to join in on the action?

If you’re eager to know more about the Scaleup: How to successfully manage growth HiOP, check out our homepage and click here to download your copy of our informational brochure. And if you’re ready to scale up, get started on your application.