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Thoughts by José Luis Agell
I don’t believe in Spanish companies…
April 16, 2012Posted by on
Many Spaniards visiting or moving to Silicon Valley ask about the keys for Spanish companies to be successful here. This is obviously a very tricky question because no one knows the secret recipe to create a company that attracts talent, clients and investors. However, there’s only one piece of advice that I can give to any company from Spain who’s trying to come to the Valley: forget where you come from and focus on where you want to get.
Expanding a business overseas is not easy and Silicon Valley is not a paradise. The way of living and doing business is completely different, plus it requires tons of resources and you need to make sure that it pays off. It can be a necessary step to tackle new markets, acquire new talent and raise money but it can also be a dramatic cash burn.
We, immigrants, tend to protect ourselves from the unknown by creating our comfortable ghettos. There’s a natural tendency to gather with our compatriots. I’ve done that many times and it can be relieving. However, I strongly believe that to multiply the odds of success in Silicon Valley and other parts of the world, entrepreneurs need to leave the comfort zone (and this also includes leaving the Spanish Harlem).
Nowadays, companies and entrepreneurs need to be and think global from the very beginning. I’m not talking only about having an English website; I mean a complete change of mindset. As individuals, we can-and should- take advantage of our original talents and values, but the companies that succeed abroad are those that are able to adapt to foreign dynamics. Looking for an American co-founder, hiring local people, getting international advisors, avoiding being surrounded by expats, attending networking events, applying for acceleration programs… are factors that can definitely help acquire this new internal dynamics.
This is why I don’t believe in Spanish companies anymore.