The individual entrepreneur ‘solopreneur’ bursts into the Spanish ecosystem

COMPLETE REPORT
  • The figure of the individual entrepreneur comes from the US and in the Spanish ecosystem it is already present in 6% of startups.
  • The serial entrepreneur is common with 62% of entrepreneurs having found more than one project, 2% more than in 2021, which reveals how the ecosystem is a source of talent in itself.
  • The stereotypical Spanish entrepreneur has a stable life and is usually a man (80%), 33 years old, with a high qualification.
  • The incorporation of a woman into the ecosystem continues being an unresolved subject at a global level, with a percentage of around 20% of them being entrepreneurs. A statistic that practically has not changed in the last 8 years.
  • The Spanish startups reach an average life of three years, with a positive improvement in respect to previous years (2.7 in 2021, 2.5 in 2020 and 2.2 in 2019), which shows the maturity of the ecosystem.

The ‘solopreneur’ phenomenon arrived into the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in Spain: The ‘solopreneur’ represents 6% of startups in Spain, so the most common is still to create a startup in a team that is normally small and masculine. 60% of startups have between 2 and 3 founders, while 35% function with more than 4. At the same time, 6 out of 10 were founded solely by men and only 6% by women. The startups with a team of mixed founders represent 35%.

Those are some of the main results from the ‘Entrepreneurship Map 2022’, carried out by South Summit, in collaboration with IE University. This report analyses the situation of the Spanish entrepreneur ecosystem in regard to other regions and allows one to see its behaviour in recent years, and from more than 3,600 projects signing up to the Startup Competition South Summit Madrid 2022, of which 75% are international.

María Benjumea, founder and president of South Summit and Salvador Aragón, General Manager of Innovation and professor at IE University has presented the results of this report in the IE Tower, the new headquarters of IE University I Madrid. She has also participated in this event with Javier Fernández-Lasquetty, Regional Minister of Economy, Finance and Employment and Begoña Villacís, Deputy Mayor of Madrid. During this conference, one has learnt the motto of South Summit Madrid 2023: Today 2030, which will feature with the institutional support of the State Secretariat for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence, the Community of Madrid and the Madrid City Council.

In evaluation, María Benjumea, founder and president of South Summit, has assured that the data of the Entrepreneurship Map is the verification of the professionalisation and growth of the Innovation ecosystem in our country. “The maturity of the Ecosystem is evidence of an unstoppable phenomenon and very good news because it is clear that there is growth in our economy”.

In a study from this year, the “solopreneur” figure bursts onto the scene. One is an entrepreneur that creates, leads and develops their startup on their own, without a founding team and is an ‘autonomous 3.0’ This trend, which originates in the US, mainly comes from businesses with digital ambition.

According to Salvador Aragón General Manager of Innovation and professor of IE University, “Although a team is still common in the ecosystem, in recent years we can see how the ‘solopreneur’ figure has grown. Which shows us the great capability of the democratisation of the ecosystem, which features an increase in diversity of professionals”.

With previous editions online, the serial entrepreneur is also common in the ecosystem, with 62% of startups founding more than one project, 2% more than in 2021, which reveals how the ecosystem is a source of talent in itself.

To a greater extent than the novice entrepreneurs, the main motives for those serial entrepreneurs wanting to do a start-up is because they always had a clear idea to be an entrepreneur and have detected a gap in the market.

The probability of success with a startup also increases when the experience of its founders is higher. Whilst the sale percentage of a project created by novice entrepreneurs is inferior at 20%, this index exceeds 70% among those that have created more than four startups.

In regard to the stereotypical Spanish entrepreneur that maintains a stable life during recent years. This is on the whole a man (80%), that is 33 years old, with a high qualification (the majority have a university degree, 70% have a masters and 16% begin a startup with a PHD). Furthermore, as they have profiles with previous professional experience: more than half were working in a business before introducing their startup, 24% already had an entrepreneurial project and 7% were employed in a startup, while less than 1% were unemployed.

The incorporation of a woman into the ecosystem continues being an unresolved subject at a global level. In Spain, the entrepreneurial woman represents 20% of entrepreneurs, slightly above the whole of Europe (17%) and below North America (21%) or Latin America (24%).

Mature and diversified ecosystem

The data from the ‘Entrepreneurship Map 2022’ by South Summit confirms the maturity of the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Spain. The Spanish startups reach an average of 3 years in life, with a positive evolution compared to previous years (2.7 years on average in life in 2021, 2.5 in 2020 and 2.2 in 2019). This is an average slightly below the startups of North America (3.04 years of life), Europe (3.19), and Latin America (4.47). In addition, 7 out of 10 startups (70%) in Spain have already launched their product and it is generating traction, almost 10% more than last year.

The main training fields for entrepreneurs are Engineering and Social Sciences. The Spanish ecosystem is increasingly knowledge-intensive and increasingly diversified, not only in technologies, but also in sectors. Fintech, Education and Health represent the top 3 industries, followed by: Software development, e-commerce, social impact, aggrotech, data and analytics. The top 10 is completed by two new areas: Productivity services and media.

According to a report by South Summit there is great growth potential in the Artificial Intelligence area. The projects of AI represent 16.8% in Spain, around 18.8% in Latin America and 22.4% in Europe.

The maturity of the ecosystem also measures itself by the ability to generate labour opportunities. 69% of the Spanish projects have between 2 and 10 employees, while 26% (9% more than last year) claim they have between 10 and 50 professionals in their team. The expectations of hiring for 2023 are positive in an economic environment prepared for inflation.

In terms of income, 6 out of 10 startups in Spain are already generating them, 11% more than in 2021. 11% of startups exceed 500,000 euros per year and 18% have positive EBITDA, which is six points more than in 2021 and 5% more than in the rest of Europe. In addition, 32% of startups expect to achieve a positive EBITDA within a year.

This edition of the ‘Entrepreneurship Map’ highlights that there has been a significant trend shift in funding sources. We are moving toward an increasingly professional and balanced model, with private funds going from 11% in 2018 to 32% in 2022, while own funds have fallen from 60% to 46% in the same period.

Startups in Spain not only seek more financing (19%), gain greater visibility (19%) or achieve strategic agreements (18%), they also demand in all regions improvements in taxation for creation and attracting investors, as well as greater flexibility in hiring.

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