The Catalan start-up Wallbox has surprised after its announcement of going to the New York Stock Exchange and being valued at 1,500 million dollars. In Catalonia, the milestone that the company dedicated to the design and manufacture of charging points for electric cars has passed – reaching 1,000 million and becoming a unicorn, according to entrepreneurial slang – had only been set by Glovo. According to an estimate by Barcelona Tech City and a report from the French Viva Technology Top 100 Future Unicorns congress, there are seven emerging cities in the city with the greatest options to reap similar success to Wallbox in the coming years.
Emerging companies have achieved 1,250 million euros in Catalonia so far this year
“Wallbox has broken molds and is very important for an ecosystem that has been on a record since the beginning of the year in Spain, with 2,500 million in investment in the first semester, half of them in Barcelona, and 90% of foreign capital”, explains the President of Barcelona Tech City, Miguel Vicente. The money raised by startups is, according to the association, higher than the total for 2020 and 25% higher than the previous year. Faced with a panorama of “digitalization at a forced marches” due to a pandemic that has benefited part of the companies, Vicente predicts that Belvo, Onna, Holded, Typeform, TravelPerk, Paack and Wallapop may reach unicornio, the last two also included in the Viva’s European listing.
TravelPerk, a business travel app founded in 2015, approved an ERTE for part of its workforce during the health crisis and opted to cut costs to avoid layoffs. Even so, the company sees it possible to reach the value of Wallbox, which is one of its clients. TravelPerk just raised $ 167 million and has accumulated $ 293 in four rounds of funding, according to Crunchbase. The company’s commercial director, Jean-Christophe Taunay-Bucalo, celebrates that investors have opted for a horizon beyond the pandemic, “from five to ten years”, when there will be “a global leader in business travel”. At the local level, Taunay-Bucalo considers that in Barcelona “five or six companies will fight, with sportsmanship, to see which one becomes the largest.”
Vicente considers that an area with many elements to succeed is that of software as a service (SaaS, for its acronym in English), when the product is the computer program itself. “These are innovative models, very scalable and that require little investment because the costs are only technological,” says Vicente, who sees in them a quarry of possible future unicorns based on “very disruptive projects and not on existing models.” He also highlights the potential of marketplaces such as Wallapop (valued at 690 million in March) or transport apps such as Cabify (a Spanish unicorn, based in Madrid). According to the president of Barcelona Tech City, the latter are activities in which “there are barriers to entry in very large markets” but which, when they succeed, then take all the cake.
A European study highlights Wallapop and Paack as the most promising
One of the Barcelona-based emerging companies that has grown the most in recent years is Belvo, founded in May 2019 by Oriol Tintoré and Pablo Viguera. In the fintech sector, this start-up is presented as an independent intermediary software that offers a service for accessing and interpreting financial information. Just a week ago it captured 43 million dollars (35.15 million euros) of investment to continue expanding in Latin America, its main market. Since its founding, the company has raised $ 56 million. Its rapid growth places it as a possible future unicorn. “It is not something that worries us or that is an objective. We see the rounds and the valuation of the company as a consequence of the work done. What we do have is a tailwind for this growth to continue and, why not, be a unicorn ”, reasons Viguera.
“We are not obsessed with being a unicorn, we are focused on day-to-day life and doing things right,” says a spokeswoman for Paack, a transport company – a sector that benefited from the pandemic – focused on making the delivery of goods sustainable. last Mille. The company expects to exceed 100 million in turnover in 2021, after an investment round of 45 million at the end of 2020. Paack positively values being able to have worked with large groups (one of them, Amazon) from the beginning, although it also has clients as smaller companies such as the Barcelona Manzaning markets sales platform.
TravelPerk is also not very concerned about whether or not to become a unicorn. “At the end of the day it is an external valuation, what interests us most is a long-term success,” says Taunay, adding that the admirable thing about Wallbox is its IPO on the NYSE index. The success of the charging point manufacturer also speaks of the Barcelona ecosystem: “It means that companies created in Barcelona like ours can have a very important international projection,” says Viguera. Having national venture capital funds and a joint plan by the administrations to attract and retain talent are two pending issues for the city, apparently from Vicente, who affirms that “the news is no longer that a car factory is arriving in a province “Because the technological ones will be the” spearhead of the recovery. “