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The Hottest Startups in Madrid

by Elijah
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The Hottest Startups in Madrid

Madrid is home to many of the country’s headquarters, from Iberia to Telefónica to Repsol. As a result, the city ecosystem is focused on launching B2B startups to serve them. Fintech and security play an important role: “But we are also seeing more startups for electric vehicles, housing and healthcare,” adds Alex de la Torre, head of business development at the city’s Impact Hub, the local arm of the global accelerator.

Spain’s Law to Promote the Startup Ecosystem was passed at the end of 2022 and offers tax breaks for founders, investors and employees of startups, plus visas to attract talent and public funding. Although “Spain does not consider just one city as our technology capital,” said Samuel Gil, managing partner at JME Ventures in Madrid. “It’s a third Barcelona, ​​​​a third Madrid and then Valencia and Andalusia.” Madrid is already leading the way in attracting international talent, with three prestigious international business schools and companies, including Facebook, Salesforce and Klarna, opening their headquarters there.

According to Paloma Castellano, director of Wayra Madrid, the new law and the growing international skills pool will help Madrid jump from a city with solid seed funding rounds and a healthy pool of serial entrepreneurs to a city of unicorns, and scale.


“Racket sports are a social game,” says Antonio Robert Aragonés, director of Playtomic. “What makes us different is the social aspect: getting people who don’t know each other to play together, while using a ‘Playtomic level’ designed to level the playing field, just as a golf handicap matches golfers.” Founded at the end of 2017 by three local entrepreneurs Felix Ruiz Hernandez, Pablo Carro and Pedro Clavería as a booking app for padel courts, a game that combines elements of tennis and squash, it has grown into a software-as-a-service meets social network for racket sports, and claims it connects 3.1 million players across 4,800 clubs, with a total of 21,000 courses in 49 countries. After raising €67 million from investors including GP Bullhound, FJ Labs and Claret Capital Partners, it became profitable in May 2023, taking on Portuguese rival AirCourts, with 0.5 million users. The company is strong in Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, the Middle East and the Benelux and wants to develop the padel market in Germany, Great Britain, the US and Asia. playtomic.io


According to Dr. Manuel Marina Breysse, CEO and co-founder of Idoven, thirty percent of all clinical trials in the world recruit patients in Spain, thanks to a simplified Ethics Committee Approval system, low approval costs and a high response rate from the population. That’s why healthcare startups are flourishing in Madrid. In 2014, the cardiologist joined a research project at the Spanish cardiovascular research institute Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III, where he met co-founder José María Lillo Castellano, a telecoms engineer. They developed an algorithm that could predict atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) based on an electrocardiogram measurement. “Every time a heart check takes place, an ECG is made,” he explains. “This could be during a company health check, when you visit the emergency department, or even from your Fitbit.” They founded Idoven in 2018 and built a cloud-based platform to host their algorithm, where doctors can upload data from more than 60 heart monitoring devices. The company raised €28.5 million from investors including Insight Partners, Northzone and Wayra. Currently they’re focusing on hospitals, but they’re also working with Google and AstraZeneca to use Fitbits to reduce readmissions for heart attack patients, and there’s a beta version in development for Apple Watch. idoven.ai

Found place

When brothers José and Manuel Postigo Hernández and friend David Sanz found a lost camera in Madrid, they used its photos to track down its owner. That inspired them to invest their savings into launching Foundspot, a free-to-use lost and found platform. Items are uploaded to the site or app using keywords (item type, lost location, colors, date) and Foundspot’s AI matches descriptions, then contacts the original owner. “We also retrieve pets,” José adds. “We want to reunite people with the things they care about.” At the launch they collaborated with taxi companies from Madrid and the Spanish airline Iberia. Other airlines, hotels and tourist municipalities followed suit. The combination of advertising revenue, business subscriptions and donations from individuals boosted sales until the company was able to donate 30 percent of profits to cancer research and Latin American NGOs in 2019. In 2020, Foundspot introduced a real estate shipping service and in 2023 the company is expanding in the US and Italy, followed by Latin America in 2024. Foundspot.com


Founded by Julio Pernía and Manuel Moreno because they “discovered a shift in policyholder behavior that the industry was not responding to,” Pernía explains. “They demanded a more digital, remote and direct experience.” Bdeo offers ‘visual intelligence’ to the insurance sector: policyholders can take photos or videos of damage to cars or homes with their smartphones and then send these images to their insurance company. Bdeo’s AI assesses severity and repair costs, reducing the time spent assessing claims by 50 percent. In June, the company raised €7.5 million, bringing in total funding of €10 million from Íope Ventures, a new investment vehicle launched by Wayra and Telefónica Seguros, Blackfin, Big Sur and K Fund, among others. Fifty insurers in more than 25 countries already use Bdeo’s technology and in Spain the company manages more than 50 percent of car insurance. The new financing will fuel international expansion in Europe and Latin America. bdeo.io


In 2019, Devengo’s co-founders Fernando Cabello-Astolfi and Alberto Molpeceres launched a salary advance service, allowing employees to withdraw their salaries before payday. The pandemic slowed the company’s growth, and in 2022 the founders made a sharp shift to instant payments. Most B2B or B2C payments still use traditional banking ‘rails’: the systems of major banks, which can take days to process payments. Devengo’s API can accurately and securely identify both sides of a transaction in seconds, so funds are transferred instantly. The company has raised €2.9 million from Venture City and Fides Capital in four rounds, the most recent in November 2022. devengo.com


Spain has the most hours of sunshine per year in Europe, but very few household solar panels; only 70,000 of the six million homes in the country are equipped with solar panels. Founded by Iván Cabezuela and Manel Pujol Olivares of Bulb in May 2022, Samara aims to boost adoption by simplifying the process. Samara offers customers an online 3D design tool and rental options that you can try before you buy. Consumers can save up to 70 percent on their electricity bill and at the same time contribute to a cleaner environment. The company has raised €6.5 million to develop technology – including batteries and EV chargers – from Seaya Ventures and Pelion Green Future, and is aiming for one million installations over the next three years. samara.energy


Returning to Spain after a consultancy job in Silicon Valley, Álvaro Falcones, Joaquín Fernández and CEO Enrique García launched TaxDown after being inspired by the tax consultancy software they had used in the US. TaxDown’s software links to an API from the Spanish tax authorities and takes 12 minutes to file taxes, calculate deductions and claim rebates. The company says its proprietary algorithm saves an average of more than $400 per return. Since launching in 2019, the company has raised a total of €14.6 million from companies such as JME Ventures and Atresmediahas more than a million Spanish users and will launch in Mexico this year. taxdown.es

Beemine Lab

Founder and CEO Telmo Güell has picked up on the healthy diet trend by mixing CBD with natural honey: CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect, while honey is an antiseptic and a moisturizer that can help the skin absorb CBD. Concerned about the collapse of the global bee colony, he founded cosmetics brand Beemine Lab in 2018, with 10 percent of profits going to bee conservation charities. Spain bans oral CBD, so all Beemine Lab products are topical, with skin and hair care products sold through the app and in pharmacies in Spain, Japan, Belgium, Italy, France and Germany. After raising €1.2 million from Faraday Venture Partners and Keith Ventures, the company expects to grow its revenue to €2.8 million by the end of 2023, doubling the number of pharmacies taking its product, and plans to expand to South America. thebeeminelab.com


In February 2020, Velca’s co-founders, CEO Emilio Froján, Jose Álvarez, César Flores, Marta Rosell and David Ruiz, pooled their savings to launch an electric scooter powered by a battery that can be removed and charged indoors. Then the pandemic hit, but by the end of the year they had crowdfunded €750,000 in four hours – a record for Spain – and now have €6.9 million through crowdfunding and angel investors. Velca now has eleven models, is distributed in Portugal and France, and estimates that it has saved more than 27.5 million kg of CO2 with its vehicles. Ambitions for 2023 include transferring all production to Spain. velcamotor.com


Clikalia, the instant buyer of real estate in Madrid, founded by Alister Moreno and Pablo Fernandez, was based on the iBuyer (or instant buyer) model – large companies with a lot of capital on hand that can quickly make a cash offer on a house do to speed up the sales process. Sellers upload their home to the Clikalia app, which values ​​their home within 24 hours and – if a decision is made to purchase – pays out in cash within seven days. Clikalia then makes renovations or improvements, sells about 70 percent of the properties it buys and rents out the rest. It reached breakeven within four months and raised a record Spanish Series B round of €460 million in 2021. With more than €983 million in funding from SoftBank, Luxor Capital and Fifth Wall, it has expanded into Portugal and Mexico and is working towards an IPO within three years. CEO Moreno is eyeing a stock exchange listing in the US. Klikalia.es

This article appears in the January/February 2024 issue of WIRED UK magazine.

This article was originally published by WIRED UK

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