On the face of it, it’s been a pretty terrible year. Total investment into Spanish startups in 2020 fell by 56% compared to 2019, from €1.2bn to €525m, according to Atomico’s State of European tech report.
The big drop is partly influenced by the lack of any big blockbuster round, like Glovo’s €150m Series E at the end of last year, but that doesn’t mean there’s not room for optimism.
A number of Spanish VC firms have closed new funds, and some of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs are reinvesting in the ecosystem.
Meanwhile, big deals such as the €1.3bn purchase of rental ads platform Idealista, and Apple’s acquisition of specialist machine learning startup Vilynx, are signs of a country that can foster highly valuable companies and truly innovative technologies.
There have also been notable transatlantic success stories, with US-headquartered businesses with Spanish roots closing big rounds this year. Madrid-founded data analytics firm Devo raised $60m in September, while Valencia-founded payments provider Flywire hit a $1bn valuation with a $120m Series E round.
And while this year’s homegrown winners might not have hit unicorn level quite yet, the list is full of companies with unique business models and global ambitions. Let’s take a look.
Paack — €44.7m in November
Founded in Barcelona in 2015, Paack provides last mile delivery solutions for big ecommerce players like Amazon, Decathlon and MediaMarkt. Working in more than 60 cities in four countries, the startup allows customers to pick their own delivery slots, using technology to optimise a fleet of electric delivery vehicles for more efficient journeys.
The Series C round was led by London-based Bregal Milestone (the firm’s first deal in Spain), with participation from existing investors Fuse Ventures, RPS Ventures, Rider Global and Unbound.
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Ona Therapeutics — €30m in June
This biotech startup is developing novel therapies for metastatic cancer, one of the most difficult forms of the disease to cure. It’s a Barcelona-based spin-off from the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine.
The Series A was made up of investment from existing investor Asabys Partners and new investors Ysios Capital, Bpifrance – InnoBio 2, Fund+ and Alta Life Sciences.
Onna — €25m in June
Onna describes itself as a “knowledge integration platform”, and provides B2B technology that allows teams to search for information from a wide range of enterprise applications (such as Slack, Microsoft 365 and Dropbox). Founded in Barcelona in 2015, the company now has a second headquarters in New York, and notable clients like Electronic Arts, Fitbit and Facebook.
The €25m Series B round was led by Atomico with participation from Glynn Capital, with previous investors Dawn Capital, Nauta Capital and Slack Fund also following on.
Minoryx Therapeutics — €25m in October
Minoryx Therapuetics is a biotech company working on phase 3 clinical trials for treatments of neurodegenerative diseases. These rare conditions, both genetic diseases and diseases of the central nervous system, are particularly hard to treat and often affect children, leading to neurological impairment and early deaths.
The €25m comes from the European Investment Bank.
Wallbox — €23m in May
Barcelona-based Wallbox is one of Spain’s most exciting startups, offering cutting edge electric vehicle charging technology around the world. The company opened its Silicon Valley office in 2019 to power its distribution in the US, Canada and Mexico, and is also active in China.
Wallbox extended its Series A round to €23m (which it opened in 2019), with a €12m investment in May led by Seaya Ventures, with participation from Endeavour Catalyst and Iberdrola.
Scalefast — €19.5m in June
Scalefast is another Spain-founded company that’s opened a second HQ in the US. With head offices in Madrid and California, the startup simplifies ecommerce for brands selling online, such as L’Oreal, FLIR and Square Enix. The startup has seen year-on-year growth of 200%, according to cofounder Olivier Schott, who says the Covid-19 crisis is accelerating sellers’ move to ecommerce.
This Series B was led by Xplorer Capital, Stereo Capital, with participation from current investors Adara Ventures, Benhamou Global Ventures and Crédit Mutuel Equity.
Jeff — €17.5m in December
This Valencia-founded startup has developed a unique business model, by empowering would-be entrepreneurs to start their own franchise business. It’s helped more than 2,000 people start their own enterprise in 40 countries, and this year’s funding will be used to open a New York office as part of a US expansion.
The Series B round was led by All Iron Ventures, Alma Mundi Ventures and FJLabs.
Ontruck — €17m in June
Smart freight startup Ontruck was founded in Madrid in 2015, but today has 150 employees working in offices in Barcelona, London, Paris and Amsterdam. The AI technology allows clients to manage freight deliveries by matching loads to vehicles with some space, using artificial intelligence software to try and optimise journeys, cutting down on wasted miles and empty space in trucks.
The round was led by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, and the founder Iñigo Juantegui says the startup has helped save 730 tonnes of industry Co2 since launch.
Goi — €17m in July
Goi specialises in the transport, packaging and last-mile delivery of bulky goods, and it’s being used by retailers including Ikea, Leroy Merlin and Amazon. Founded by Yaiza Canosa in 2017, the company is projecting turnover of €20m in 2020, taking advantage of the rapidly growing industry of bulky sales online.
The investment came from private equity firm Moira Capital, in exchange for 50% of the business.
Factorial — €15m in April
Factorial’s HR automation platform allows companies to streamline everything from booking holiday time, to payroll and onboarding. Founded in Barcelona in 2016, the startup now says more than 60,000 customers have used its tools in 40 countries.
The Series A was led by CRV, with participation from existing investors K Fund, Point Nine and Creandum.