The startup scene in Barcelona, Spain isn’t something we hear a lot about. Athena is an incubator programme looking to change that.
“The investment scene in startups in the Barcelona are is still in an early period,” explains General Partner, Victor Zabrockis. “Most funds or accelerators here are still very conservative and with some successes on the Spanish Internet scene we see a growing interest in helping entrepreneurs getting startups off the ground.”
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Using private capital from its own funds and from a pool of private investors in Spain and Brazil, Athena looks to make investments ranging from $70,000 to $150,000, presently focusing on startups creating Facebook apps. Its current projects include JunkBox, a Facebook app that looks to create a “garage sale” environment, letting users sell items privately, tapping into their social graph to find buyers. Zabrockis says that JunkBox was founded in Sao Paulo, Brazil, before being incubated in Barcelona. After four weeks availability, it’s getting “interesting traction”.
Zabrockis says that kick-starting Barcelona’s local scene by stimulating fresh entrepreneurial talent is a key aim of Athena, which was founded earlier this year. “The scene is still pretty raw and most of the Startups are brought to life by entrepreneurs with some kind of proven success in the past, such as Groupalia, Tuenti and Atrapalo.”
“It’s rare to find young entrepreneurs dedicating their talent to new projects and that is what we want to encourage. The ecosystem is not as dynamic as we would like it to be, as the economic situation in the country limits risk taking. Our goal is to boost the northern Barcelona region by offering a real funding possibility and a hands on team of advisors so that we see a growing number of ventures in the coming years.”
To do this, Athena aims to act quickly where it spots potential. “Our philosophy is a bit more aggressive than the usual here,” explains Zabrockis. “We look into early stage, pre-revenue Startups which are already in their first days of live operation; we tend to review them quite quickly and if potential is found, we aim to realize funding within 60 days from initial contact. We hope to incubate them in our facilities in Barcelona but if startups are located elsewhere we do not refrain from investing as Seed investors; we take an active role in projects.”
“Considering all, we just really want to get across young entrepreneurs that we are a dynamic incubator/investor which understands the needs of early stage projects and that we do not “cook” entrepreneurs. We either say yes or no within a 30 day period and by same time next year we hope to have incubated/funded at least 5 new Startups from Spain and Elsewhere.”
In addition to investing in local startups, Athena is preparing to launch an event called TecSeeds, which will feature local and international startups presenting their projects to a range of local seed and angel investors.