This piece is an accompaniment to our newly launched ranking of Spanish startups and scaleups to watch for 2022. Check it out in full here — it’s free for all Sifted readers this evening before it reverts to members-only tomorrow morning. Not a member? Sign up now.
Home to the likes of Cabify, Glovo, and Paack, Spain is not only the leader of southern Europe’s tech scene, but also a competitive player across the continent.
The value of the Spanish ecosystem — measured as the total valuation of its startups — has grown nearly 40% on average each year over the last five years. The country waved goodbye to 2021 with a blazing $500m Series E for staffing marketplace Jobandtalent, and walked into 2022 with a €101m Series E for Barcelona-based TravelPerk, adding to its growing unicorn tally.
The Spanish government has picked up on the legislative and fiscal needs of its booming ecosystem. The much anticipated startup law was drafted at the end of 2021, complete with fiscal incentives and talent retention initiatives to make Spain an attractive hub for operators.
2022 so far has kept up with 2021’s record-breaking pace despite macroeconomic instability. Q1 closed at $1.3bn in VC funding — consistent with 2021 trends, and nine times the amount of Q1 in 2017.
But the slowdown in global markets may affect the sizes and types of exits. No company has gone public in the Bolsa de Madrid so far in 2022, with expected IPOs of established institutions such as Ibercaja being postponed due to market volatility.
Realised exits have maintained some traction, generating flows of $330m between acquisitions, mergers and buyouts in Q1 compared to $240m in Q1 2021 — so far consistent with the $8bn for the whole of last year.
High hopes are then set upon the fleet of exciting startups leading the way in the country. Sifted ranked the most promising amongst them — including big hits, household names and fast-growing wonders.
Based in the Basque city of San Sebastián, Multiverse Computing offers quantum applications for the financial industry — from fraud detection and portfolio optimisation to insurance pricing and automated credit scoring — designed to outperform classical computers. It was selected as rising star in Sifted’s quantum computing briefing.
Barcelona-based Koa Health has raised over $30m in under a year to supercharge its digital health platform. With a strong focus on employees’ mental wellbeing, it targets companies, healthcare providers and insurers to facilitate support for mental health issues.
Founded in 2018, Cobee is an employee benefits management platform. It closed a €14m Series A from Balderton Capital, Speedinvest, Target Global and others, and was previously backed by Ruben Ferreiro — founder of Amazon aggregator YABA and angel to Glovo and Cabify.
Barcelona-based Factorial is one of the most promising startups in the country. The SME-focused HR platform gathered an $80m Series B — joint largest for the country — from Tiger Global, Creandum, Point Nine and others in September last year, and acquired digital platform Codegram shortly after. Serial entrepreneur Jordi Romero launched it in 2016, and has supervised team growth of 590% over the past two years.
Cikalia is a leader in Spain’s flourishing proptech scene, having raised a healthy $86m cheque from SoftBank, Luxor Capital, Fifth Wall Ventures and Checkout.com’s cofounder Guillaume Pousaz — who also backed Irish unicorn Wayflyer. Active in Spain, Portugal and Mexico, Clikalia has big expansion plans for the rest of Europe.
A longstanding no-code SaaS startup, Typeform collected a fresh $135m Series C since its last feature in a Sifted ranking, led by Sofina along with existing investors. With a $985m valuation, Typeform is a tiny push away from unicorn status, and can leverage its decade of market experience to consolidate its European presence.
Other notable names include flower marketplace Colvin Co, proptech Tiko, data platform Carto and many others.
For in-depth analysis of earlier stage companies across all sectors, visit our Intelligence briefing catalogue here.
Federico Scolari is junior intelligence analyst at Sifted.