This year, Barcelona made the Eu-startups annual list of hottest European startup hubs once again. And not just made it, but came fifth for the third year in a row, bested only by the humongous ecosystems of London, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam. The ranking itself is great news and definitely something to talk and tweet about. But which Barcelona startups make this level of international recognition possible?
If it was in our capacity, we’d write about all 1,100 startups that make up Barcelona’s startup map. But since we’re only human, we thought it best to pick the top 20 startups that are not just our favorites, but we expect them to bring the city some ridiculous success in the next year or so.
We obviously have no idea what the future will bring. What we do have is some numbers and a few hunches to go by.
This is our list of Barcelona startups to watch in 2018 – no one really knows what makes a startups “promising”, but these are as close as it gets.
20 Barcelona Startups to Watch in 2018
Travel and Tourism
TravelPerk was founded in 2015 and is well on its way to becoming a household name in business travel. It’s a tool for companies to easily and quickly book and manage business trips. TravelPerk received a sizeable investment of €6.8M in 2016, and they’re a super active member of the Barcelona startup scene, participating in events and hosting meetups regularly. In May 2017 they won the first place award at The Next Web’s 2017 Scale Competition. Can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for them!
Earlier this year we made a list of awesome travel tech companies in Barcelona, and Lodgify was one of the companies we highlighted. The Barcelona SaaS startup built a handy tool that helps vacation rental owners create their own website and manage incoming bookings, including those made on websites like Airbnb or Booking.com. Lodgify was founded in 2012, and now they’re riding the waves of the immense popularity of short-term apartment rentals, in Barcelona as well as worldwide.
ByHours created an app that lets its users book hotel rooms for 3, 6 or 12 hour periods. The experts in microstays partnered up with a bunch of hotels close to airports, city centers, train and bus stations, hospitals and sports venues so that travellers can spend layovers and idle time in a comfortable hotel room. Having raised €3M this December, they’re setting out to consolidate their market in Europe, Latin-America and the South of Asia. Today, flexibility is an excellent selling point, but the travel and hospitality industry is a tough one. Do they have what it takes?
Startups specialized in cheap weekend getaways to closeby destinations are more popular than ever, but there’s another market on the opposite end of the spectrum that’s also gaining traction. That is the market of long, exotic voyages that are not just trips, but adventures. Exclusivity is the number one selling point for Exoticca, a Barcelona travel startup that offers travel packages to exotic destinations at competitive prices. The packages contain everything from flights and hotel stays to food and entrance tickets to museums and sights. Exoticca was founded in 2013. They raised €500,000 in October 2017 and their user base is growing by the day.
Glovo is the startup prodigy that has taken the idea of on-demand services to the next level. The Barcelona-based delivery startup promises to get any product you may need from anywhere in your city within 60 minutes. Established in 2014, Glovo is now operating in major Spanish and Italian cities, Lisbon, Paris, Lima and Santiago de Chile. They’ve just released a new feature in Barcelona called SuperGlovo: now they’ll even do your grocery shopping for you, in record time. Glovo scored €25M in funding this September, and our prediction is that the famed yellow-green bags that the Glovers carry on their bikes or motorcycles are about to become a common sight all over the world.
Check out our Barcelona food delivery app test where we pitted four delivery startups against each other to find the best one!
21 Buttons is a social e-commerce app that lets users shop clothes that fashion influencers have in their wardrobes, as well as share their own outfits. Each item that appears in a photo is tagged and instantly shoppable with one click. The Barcelona startup founded in 2015 raised €3M in February and another $10M in October this year. They’re expanding internationally at full speed, having launched in the UK after Spain and Italy. It seems that startups in the social media scene have a bright future to look forward to. Let’s see how 21 Buttons manages to cut itself a piece of the social media cake!
Since joining forces with rival Wallapop to take on the US market in 2016, LetGo has been on a roll. The virtual flea market for buying and selling second hand goods raised €159M in January, and a mere eight months later, we received news that they’ve managed to raise an unexpected $100M in funding at a valuation of over $1B. If that’s not the start of a huge success story then we don’t know what is. Could LetGo knock ebay or Craigslist out of the game and become the most popular online marketplace for classifieds and second hand goods? The startup founded in Barcelona in 2015 now has offices in New York City, and uses geolocation to connect buyers and sellers located close to each other.
Badi was born in 2015 in Barcelona where, like in may other European cities, apartment sharing has become the norm. The Badi app helps users find available rooms or list spare rooms and look for new roommates to move into their shared apartments. Their smart recommendation system does the matchmaking. As the rise of the sharing economy is changing our habits of consumption, our way of living is transforming and Badi has a good chance of becoming a driving force for that change. Are we to witness an Airbnb-like success?
Read more about our favorite sharing economy startups in Barcelona!
Typeform, once a Barcelona startup, is now a hugely successful SaaS company with 160+ employees that raised $35M in series B funding this year. It has a reputation of being an awesome place to work, with a very diverse team and great company culture. Typeform was founded in 2012 and specializes in collecting data from humans in a conversational way, with interactive typeforms. Yes, their name is becoming a common noun, so you know they’re shooting for success.
The Barcelona startup founded in 2001 has set out to power democracy – and they’re doing it by modernizing election processes with the help of their technology. Their online election solutions have earned the trust of countless electoral organizations around the globe, and more and more are adopting them to ensure security, privacy and auditability. Scytl raised €12M in February this year.
Restb.ai is a machine learning computer vision startup that does visual recognition specifically for real estate. Their AI solutions automatically tag, describe and classify property photos to boost SEO and improve conversion rates. The Barcelona startup founded in 2016, raised €1.2M in May this year and is rapidly expanding internationally. They’ve also been named one of the top 5 hottest AI startups in Europe.
The world of AI chatbots is one of the most diverse and interesting fields in Barcelona today. It’s hard to keep up with the countless startups constantly releasing fantastic new solutions. Hutoma is one player of the exciting and dynamic scene: it’s a marketplace for creating and sharing deep learning conversational bots. Freelancers can publish their own bots in the botstore, agencies can use it develop bots for their clients and businesses can start using them to reduce staff cost. Hutoma was founded in 2015, and there’s something about them that distinguishes them from other AI projects out there. Can they prove that chatbots are indeed relevant and not just a fad?
The Barcelona-based foreign exchange fintech startup offers innovative technology to solve currency and risk management problems. Their platform enables companies to trade currencies themselves, without having to go through bank traders. Kantox, founded in 2011, raised €5M in July and is aiming for profitability. With offices in London and Barcelona, they’re on the hottest spots of the heatmap and have already begun to lead a revolution in the fintech industry.
Insurtech is another huge trend in tech. Coverfy is a Barcelona startup that lets users manage their insurance with various companies, optimize prices and coverage, and find the best insurance offers through an app on their phones. They started out in 2015 and launched their product little over a year ago. Since then, their user base has grown immensely – over 60,000 as of October 2017 – and they managed to raise €3.5M in funds this year. We can’t wait to see how they take advantage of their position as industry leaders in Spain.
Marketing and Sales Technology
Kompyte is a SaaS platform that can provide the marketing departments of companies with an incredible advantage by allowing them to track their competitors and see every change they make to their websites, products and digital marketing campaigns. The startup founded in 2014 joined the renowned 500 Startups accelerator program in Silicon Valley last year and has offices in California. Their client base spans across countries and industries, including several Fortune 500 companies that have put their faith in their competitive intelligence solutions.
The AI-based mobile Customer Relationship Management platform has recently raised $12M for international expansion. It’s an easy-to-use tool for field sales teams. Something like a mobile personal assistant, it allows sales reps to access previous interaction they’ve had with customers, carry their pipeline in their pockets wherever they go, take care of reporting, etc. From a smartphone app to smart watches, it can be used on any device. ForceManager, founded in 2011, already has an industry leading active user rate of over 80%, so it seems there’s not much standing in its way.
Internet of Things
The goal of wesmartPark is to help solve urban mobility issues by making underused parking spaces accessible and reducing traffic caused by drivers searching for a parking spot. Their smart city solutions allow for users to access closed, private parkings spaces which they can reserve through an app. By partnering up with real estate owners, they managed to create a network of parking garages in several cities of the world, including Barcelona, Madrid, New York City and just recently Santiago de Chile. They raised €1,5M earlier this year which they’ll use to demonstrate the scalability of the project.
Another Barcelona startup that is helping cities evolve. Worldsensing provides real-time insight into city operations from traffic optimization and parking availability to police force utilization and security monitoring. The company has gone through a few pivots since it was founded back in 2008. They raised €8.3M in July this year to become specialists in operational intelligence and finalize their move into the IoT and smart cities markets. Cities today are in great need of such solutions by innovative IoT startups, so we have high hopes for them.
Trends in technology come and go just like those in fashion, but we can’t deny that disruptive foodtech startups are all the rage right now. Natural Machines, founded in 2012, has built a 3D food printer called Foodini, which you may already have read about in our revolutionary foodie startups series. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a 3D printer that prints edible food. For now, they’re trying to bring innovative solutions to professional kitchens in order to provide healthier and more fresh food options. But how long before the 3D food printer becomes just another appliance squeezed between the fridge and the microwave in every household? Natural Machines could be the one to popularize this truly non-conformist idea.
The Barcelona-based biotech startup Peptomyc raised €4.2M in series A funding in September to continue the development of their peptide cancer therapy. They are using the funds to develop their product which stops cancer growth by killing cancer cells, with reduced side effects. It’s a potentially paradigm-changing endeavor born in Barcelona, and we can’t wait to see the results of the coming year. Magical things can happen when scientific research meets entrepreneurship!