Created four years ago by two 20-something-year-olds, Demium Startups is an incubator that seeks and trains the most suitable people to launch their business ideas
The creation of startups, technology-based companies that offer innovative services, is continuing to boom in Spain, where 2,663 were set up in 2016. However, we would have to go back to 2013 to witness the foundation of Demium Startups, a business incubator launched by Jorge Dobón and Ismael Teijón, two young Valencians who chose to help people who wanted to navigate the uncharted waters of self-employment. “If a young person has the ideal conditions, that momentum, desire, and initiative to become an entrepreneur, a start-up is a good place to start on such an adventure; better than a traditional business”, states Javier Torregrosa, Demium’s talent manager.
From the start, they tried to distinguish themselves from existing businesses in this sector. “We are different because while others are looking for teams that have already been formed with an on-going project, we are looking for people. We believe that the success or failure of a project does not lie so much in the idea but in who implements it and how“, he explains. That search is mainly undertaken through AllStartup, an event held periodically where scalable business ideas that have been identified based on success models in other countries and market trends are presented to entrepreneurs with talent. “Entrepreneurs who do not have a team or a clear idea about how to start come to the event”. We organise group activities and create balanced teams of three or four people with different profiles (business, marketing, technology…). Then, they have to work on one of the business ideas we have selected and submit a project”, says Torregrosa.
This entire process takes place over a week-end and the winning team gets to join the Demium start-up programme. For four months, although it may sometimes be extended to six, they receive training in several fields, advice from mentors and tutors, and a road-map is drawn up with all the goals they have to achieve to cut the time needed to launch a start-up. Furthermore, Demium, which has a 15% stake in every project it helps to create, seeks investors prepared to provide the financial support. “Last year, we created an investment system by which investors in our field joined forces and provided 216,000 euros for our start-ups. We may also contribute money if we are enthusiastic about a project and we see a business opportunity. We invested 400,000 euros in start-ups from our portfolio in 2016”, the talent manager asserted.
Training and investment so that the risk linked to this activity is reduced as far as possible. We must not forget that eight or nine out of every ten technology companies end up closing. Javier Torregrosa stresses that of the 32 startups that Demium has helped to create over these four years, only four failed to survive the incubation period and, of the other 28, only three eventually closed. “The survival rate we have achieved to date is quite high”, he says.
The success of this formula has enable them to grow because expansion is synonymous with consolidation. Since September 2016, Demium Startups can also be found in Madrid, in addition to Valencia, and, one month ago, they opened in Barcelona in cooperation with Seedsroquet, the main startup business in Spain. In addition, they also work with Oarsis, a company dedicated to creating companies that use augmented virtual reality, and Demium Games, which focusses on the gaming sector. The company has 14 employees, but more than 500 people have launched a business with this company that wants to reach abroad next year. “Our vision is to be an example to follow in Europe. We are taking the necessary steps to achieve this”, assures Javier Torregrosa.
“Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of emotions”
What are the conditions a person must have to open his own business? Demium Startups’ talent manager stresses that, more than any studies they have taken, an entrepreneur must have initiative, enjoy challenges, be resilient, be capable of managing time, and be a good leader… “Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of emotions and one day you think your project is going to work and the next day, for no apparent reason, you realise it is not going to work and that it is going to fail”, he says. Among the people who come to Demium in search of ideas and colleagues with whom to embark on business enterprises, Javier Torregrosa points out that many are young people who have just finished at university, with no experience but with “gross potential”. In addition, he revealed that they are also interested in other types of profiles, such as people aged 30 to 40 who, in spite of having failed in previous projects, want to carry on; as well as employees from more conventional companies, such as multinationals or consultancy firms who are “a bit fed up with this type of structure and want to start a business”.