Barcelona is an intimidating city. It’s competitive. It’s full of brilliant people who work hard and fuel the startup machine that the city is turning into. The sunny beaches and afterwork drinks are not starting points: they’re rewards for determination and hard work. All of the above can make you feel all the more empowered if you manage to make it in this city – and Tim Cakir’s story, who’s Head of Growth Marketing at Restb.ai in Barcelona, can serve as inspiration to anyone who’s unsure about trying their luck here. Because the one thing that Barcelona never lacks, and has never lacked, is inspiration.
From London to Barcelona
Since coming to Barcelona, I’ve encountered quite a few people who were fleeing from the strange, chaotic, unfamiliar place that London has become. And Tim is one of them.
After living there for nine years, he started feeling like London has lost everything that once made it London – and Barcelona has always been his favorite holiday destination.
“I’ve been wanting to move here for years. And when a good job opportunity came along, I knew it was time,” he says.
When he arrived in Barcelona, he was completely astonished by the liveliness of the local tech scene. He had had no idea that this city was frothing with startup energy. Suddenly, there was so much going on, he didn’t even know where to look.
And this bubbling brew would become the basis of his new existence.
“What surprised me the most about Barcelona was that I managed to make a life here really quickly. Everything just seemed to fall into place,” he says. “In London, no matter how hard you work, you may struggle for ten years or so and still not get to where you’re going. Here, I found it easier.”
He became Head of Marketing at Talaia, a SaaS company in Barcelona, and, after a few months, he moved on to Restb.ai, an AI company that develops a specialized image recognition API for real estate.
Growth hacking, or, in other words, helping humans
Tim is an expert in growth hacking – a concept that’s very trendy, slightly overused and widely misunderstood at the same time. When I ask him to explain what exactly it is that he does, he starts by saying: “I love what I do.” What a way to start one’s own job description!
“I’m helping people. I set up system structures. I put essential inbound marketing tools like Hubspot in place. I find solutions for them that they never dared to experiment with. And I’m putting my unsatisfiable need for order and structure to use.”
This rather avantgarde but completely on-point explanation highlights the fact that Tim’s approach to marketing is very people-oriented: instead of companies and customers, he sees humans on both sides of a product. And to him, helping people means creating the means by which communication between them can be made easier. He encourages trying new things, looking for new channels of marketing, and failing as much as you can.
He experiments, he fails, he learns, he optimizes, and then he finds a way to scale.
Never stop failing
One thing that distinguishes Tim from your average young marketing professional is his constant “hyperness” and entrepreneurial spirit. While he was working at Zest Media Group, a large company in London that specializes in creating content for luxury magazines, Tim created his own division, a digital marketing department that worked like a startup-within-a-company.
Interestingly enough, it seems that his dream of helping people is something that he doesn’t think he could have realized back in London. “You can’t even help people there. They’ll instantly think that you want something from them in return.”
Who needs sleep, anyway?
Tim is also the Barcelona Chapter Leader for Online Geniuses, a vast international community of internet marketers. Why him? Because he got it into his head that he wanted to organize a series of events, and OG wasn’t represented in Barcelona yet. The go-get-it type of guy that he is, he went ahead and reached out to them asking, “Hey, can I be your guy in Barcelona?”. Is it luck that got him where he is? Sure doesn’t seem like it.
Oh, and did I mention that he’s a DJ with his own show on Barcelona City FM? If that wasn’t enough, he’s also a zealous student of Code Academy, otherwise, what would he be doing when he’s not spinning records or growth hacking?
Tim’s entrepreneurial spirit hasn’t diminished a bit since moving to Barcelona. If anything, it has caught fire. One day, he plans to start his own business, a kind of untraditional consultancy to help companies set up their inbound marketing tools and strategies. Will it be a success or a failure? There’s no way to tell.
According to Tim, 11 out of 10 startups fail.
I’d say his chances are pretty great.