Sustainability, communication and investment: the three things that build the best architecture for startups

The last edition of the BBVA Open Summit once again highlighted how startups are essential players in the construction of new futures. Understanding how to connect with others in entrepreneurship, knowing about financing opportunities and taking into account the needs of the planet are all topics that entrepreneurs addressed during the event and that can make all the difference when it comes to achieving success in an emerging project.

Turning on the innovation switch means to embark on a journey in which startups, investors, entrepreneurs and private entities set the course for all the possible futures that technology can redesign. To explore new horizons, the 5th edition of the BBVA Open Summit was held on 2 June. It was organised by BBVA Open Innovation, which brought together nearly 500 attendees from the ecosystem to support entrepreneurship, foster new connections between participants and shed light on the new paths of transformation.

“We must be aware that Spain has a great capacity for innovative entrepreneurship and work is being done so that we can soon be talking about the largest social impact country in history. For this, we have great companies like BBVA where companies can support themselves to access other markets,” said Francisco Polo, High Commissioner of Spain Entrepreneurial Nation, during the BBVA Open Summit.

The data back’s up Polo’s words. Spain and Latin America already have some thirty unicorns, companies with a valuation of more than 1 billion dollars before going public, and these are the best example of this transformation, but there are more reasons to be optimistic. In Spain, the average age of startups has increased from 2.5 years in 2020 to 2.7 years in 2021 and 300 ‘scaleups’, companies that have grown at a rate of more than 20% in employees or turnover over three years, are already being monitored.

"Entrepreneurship is a part of me and I couldn't do anything else. I chose something I love"

Like Polo, entrepreneurs, investors and heads of public and private entities shared, from their experience, important tips that every innovator should include in their roadmap. Entrepreneurship is a path that is built from vocation and dedication. “Entrepreneurship is a part of me and I couldn’t do anything else. I have chosen something I love, but that also means giving up a lot of things,” explained Yaiza Canosa, CEO and founder of GOI, a logistics company specialising in the transport, assembly and installation of bulky goods in Spain, during her presentation.

Cases such as Canosa’s are also an example that, in order to achieve success and have the impact that every startup aspires to, it is necessary to combine essential elements such as communication and attracting investment. These two aspects, together with sustainability, are the three things that shape the architecture of any emerging company. How is it possible to combine them? What are the challenges ahead for startups? What is necessary to attract investment?

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  1. Working on communication to drive the evolution of startups

Startup is synonymous with entrepreneurship, but also with connection. Working in this environment requires you to deal with different stakeholders, whether to sell an idea, obtain financing or reach agreements that will take the company to the next level.

To achieve any of these objectives, you need to construct a good narrative, but in order to build a story and ensure that the messages have an impact, you also need to follow some guidelines.

"Make them remember you, listen to yourself and be brave"

“The first thing to bear in mind is to know what your goal is,” said Jane del Tronco, founder and CEO of The Bold Choice, who, in her presentation, provided some of the key things that every entrepreneur should adhere to when connecting with the ecosystem that can support them in their growth.

As this communications expert explained, having a methodology, a technology or a patent is not always enough to make a difference. In these kinds of cases, conveying the right amount of confidence is an essential tool that can help us have an impact on the people we want to influence. “Make them remember you, listen to yourself and be brave,” Del Tronco said.

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BBVA Open Summit allowed companies to put into practice the advice of the CEO of The Bold Choice by offering specific spaces for startups to present their value proposition and connect with members of the innovative ecosystem.

Firstly, in the ‘Demo Zone’, where emerging companies found a megaphone to present their proposals. Companies in which BBVA Anthemis Venture Partnership has invested, such as Cledara, a SaaS systems management platform, or Wiserentr, a company that provides access to devices to individuals for a monthly fee, serve as examples. Secondly, in the 1-2-1 space, entrepreneurs and investors met to network and build the pillars that drive the innovation ecosystem.

  1. Exploring opportunities in the investment ecosystem

Building good communication is the first step to stay strong and achieve success in another fundamental area, that of investment. Talent, effort and ideas need to be supported by a sound funding environment. In this sense, attracting investment is one of the great challenges facing startups and entrepreneurs. “Right now there is a lot more caution and a certain stage fright,” said Aquilino Peña, CEO of venture capital firm Kibo Ventures.

A situation where the solution is based on collaboration between public and private entities. “Public-private partnerships work very well. As an example, we have the famous ‘startup’ law,” said Peña.

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The combination of these two areas, as well as regulatory developments, create an optimal basis for believing in the future of innovative entrepreneurship. “We are in a sustainable digital revolution, so I encourage entrepreneurs to open new markets,” said José Bayón, CEO of ENISA, a company dedicated to financing business projects. Knowing its scope and implications means generating greater security for the economy, but also a process of change under the mantra of sustainability.

  1. Including sustainability as a lever for growth and evolution

Under this element, startups, entrepreneurs and investors are already integrating this element into their architecture with the aim of advancing decarbonisation and strengthening their growth. According to a Deloitte study, 2030 Purpose, Good Business and a Better Future, companies that have made a commitment to sustainability have improved their performance by 11% over their competitors.

"If you want things to change, don't always do the same thing. The key is disruption"

But there is still some way to go. “There is a clock ticking and if we don’t beat it, we are going to feel the consequences,” warned Roger Fernandez, founder and co-CEO of SolarProfit, a company specialising in the design, installation and maintenance of solar panels.

However, steps are already beginning to be taken in the right direction. The key to transforming the model is none other than innovation. This message was echoed by Neus Sabaté, co-founder of Fuelium, an organisation that offers paper batteries capable of powering single-use devices: “If you want things to change, don’t always do the same thing. The key is disruption.

The door to the new futures of the entrepreneurial ecosystem is open to move towards sustainability, but also to create an enabling space that generates new ideas and initiatives to build a society and an economy with a positive impact. This was precisely the objective of the BBVA Open Summit, which allowed startups, investors and entrepreneurs to share their proposals to move towards possible futures.

This was the view of Carlos Torres Vila, Chairman of BBVA, at the closing of the event: “The entrepreneurship ecosystem continues to grow and is much more powerful than it was just five years ago. You only have to look at the quality of the entrepreneurs or the number of support organisations and financing rounds”.

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