STAGES: Madrid

On the 26th April in Madrid, together with the German Chamber of Commerce and makro Spain, we hosted our STAGES meetup.

Speaking at the event: alumni of the METRO Accelerator powered by Techstars (Cheerfy and PickaDeli), Program Director of the METRO Accelerator, Sylvia Dudek, the CEO of makro Spain (Peter Gries), and Martha Gomez the project manager of our METROPolitan pilot in Madrid. Moderating the meetup: Jose Iglesias, Director EMEA of startup weekend.

The startup scene is growing fast, the sense of community in Madrid is improving as universities start to get more involved in the ecosystem. In the audience, I.E. Business School comments, that previously the startups in Madrid prioritised having Spanish investors – this has now flipped and most Spanish startups look to London for initial investment.

“At the moment Spain has two unicorns; if (as a country) you can attract the best people you are doing something right”

This to indicate that the Spanish startup scene is improving.

On the other hand, the METROPolitan pilot project by bridges the fragmented natures of both the hospitality and tech industries, and gives startups a way to test their products with end consumers, whilst, at the same time, giving restaurants access to new innovational tools that could help improve their business. Requirements for a startup to qualify for the METROPolitan pilot are two fold: 1) the startup must have a minimum of 100 customers already, and they must save restaurant owners time or money. The pilot was launched in Barcelona and is also operating in Paris, Vienna, Milan and Berlin. Martha mentions:

“Be creative, allow younger people to show you… give freedom and time to startups”

From the startup perspective; Carlos explained what challenges he faced in business development:

“The challenges for us were in approaching restaurants; we would get questions like why are you here? what is this about? They didn’t have much time nor were we always talking to the right person – the number one perception of startups in their minds was: do you have anything to do with wifi?”

In this way, it is important to come prepared, ideally knowing who you should talk to – and have a clear point of differentiation. Once successful it does not get any easier, Jaime comments:

“The biggest challenge for us was growing really fast, and understanding the complexity of the restaurant ecosystem.”

To nurture the startup community accelerators and programs play an important role- the trick is to know which one will help your startup, our alumni comment on how they knew our METRO Accelerator was for them:

“… from the very beginning you realise that many efforts are dedicated for the startup success” – Jaime, PickaDeli

“…culturally the Techstars give first principle and the combination of METRO industry expertise…it just works” – Carlos, Cheerfy.

and as a result Carlos founder of Cheerfy comments:

“The program (METRO Accelerator) helped us focus our solution for the HoReCa sector. Our focus is now empowering restaurants to engage with customers in a personal and real way”

The METRO Accelerator is also a way for corporates to access innovation and new trends as they happen. Peter Gries comments:

“we have to adapt to new things, the changes in behaviour impacting our lives everyday (on a macro level)… and these changes in lifestyle will eventually change the restaurant industry as well.”

Having an accelerator helps to detect these trends early.

There are around 500 applications to approve per program and we review them meticulously to find the ones that will fit our program the best.

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