How Barcelona Startup Trovit Is Staying on Top of the Search Game [Interview]

If we put together a list of the best companies to work for in Barcelona, Trovit would definitely be in the top five. A startup that can pride itself on one of the biggest exits in the history of the city’s tech scene, Trovit is seen as an absolute hotshot, and certainly not by chance. They have a cool and versatile product that people all over the world use on a daily basis, a young and international team, and an office with a spectacular view and an enviable music room to back it up with. We sat down with Carol Murtra, Chief Marketing Officer and Pilar Perales, Digital Brand Specialist at Trovit to talk about the changes that the company has gone through in the past year, the way they work and the way they have fun, the challenges that they’ve faced and their plans for the immediate future.


Trovit Has Always Been Your Guide

Let’s start with an introduction. What do we have to know about Trovit?

Carol: Trovit is a classified search engine: what it does is it centralizes content from different classified websites and displays it to users. So, for example, if you’re searching for real estate, instead of having to go to different websites one by one to see what’s in the market, you can enter your search criteria in Trovit, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of all the content that is out there. It’s like a one-stop shop that makes things much easier and quicker for users. We operate in three categories: homes, cars and jobs. We have 90 million active monthly users, and we’re present in 53 countries.


I wish I had known about Trovit when I was looking for an apartment to rent a few years back. It was all so confusing.

Carol: It is very likely that you’ve used Trovit before without knowing it. Before Trovit started repositioning itself in the last year to become a destination site for its users, a lot of users sort of just fell into it, since Trovit doesn’t publish content: we redirect our users to the original source. What we have been doing for the past year, after ten years of proving that we have a very successful product, is reinforcing the brand. So that next time, instead of accidentally going through Trovit, users voluntarily go to the Trovit website and start their search from there.


So creating a completely foolproof product came first.

Carol: For every startup, one of the key things is to have a product that works. Otherwise, all they have is a marketing bubble. You can position yourself as a very cool brand and you can even be very well-known, but if the user’s experience with the product does not live up to their expectations, they’re not going to use it again. At Trovit, things have been done the other way around. The company has made sure that they have a winning product, and when the product had proved its value, they started working on awareness and engagement.

The Young Team of Barcelona Startup Trovit is Working on a Search Engine That's Present in 53 Countries

Searching the World from Barcelona

“What we primarily look for when recruiting is talent. That comes before anything else. We don’t care where we find our talent, but we are very picky.”


You’ve mentioned that Trovit is available in 53 countries. Are you managing all those countries from your office in Barcelona?

Carol: Yes, all 120 of us work here in this office. This is the magic of the digital world, that you don’t have to be physically located anywhere. It’s true that we have a very big sales team, and we have twenty country managers who are local to the countries they’re managing, but they’re based in Barcelona. So we do a lot of virtual meetings and e-mails, but we only need to be physically there once or twice a year.

Pilar: From the beginning, our tech team has managed to build a product that you don’t have to remake for every single country. It was created to be scalable, so all you have to do is apply it to different markets.


It’s such a privilege to have all your team located in one space, isn’t it?

Carol: It creates a lot of synergy.


Tell me about your office, what does a typical day look like?

Carol: Trovit has a very young team, the average age is 28-29. Many of our team members are at the beginning of their twenties, and the majority of our senior team members are around 33. We have a very cohesive team, and we don’t just work together, we also spend a lot of our free-time together beyond office hours.

Pilar: Since the beginning, the company culture has been all about creating a very close team, doing activities together. We are not too many people, so we have the chance to really get to know everybody, to talk to each other. This makes our work easier, and our time here much more enjoyable.

How Barcelona Startup Trovit is Staying on Top of the Search Game 1250

The fun element is definitely reflected in your office. This meeting room full of colorful balls, for example…

Carol: Everyone loves this room, except for the people that work here. [Laughs]

Pilar: It’s quite uncomfortable actually, because every time you open the door, half the balls roll out into the hallway, and it takes forever to gather them.


You have a lot of international people and people from other parts of Spain working here. Do you focus on promoting diversity?

Carol: What we primarily look for when recruiting is talent. That comes before anything else. We don’t care where we find our talent, but we are very picky. So diversity is not something that we want to balance as an objective. We are among the companies in Barcelona that have the most female developers, and they are very active in the women in tech community, not only in Barcelona, but in all of Europe.

Pilar: When someone is personally invested in something, we always help them achieve their goals. For example, we are happy to host events and meetups related to whatever our team members may be interested in.


Barcelona as a Brand: a European Startup Hub

“Barcelona is a good brand that attracts people. What you’re giving up in salary, you’re gaining in quality of life.”


Why do you think that Barcelona is a good place to be for a company like Trovit?

Carol: I think that Barcelona has created the perfect framework for companies to set up their headquarters or open new offices, not only because the location is very well connected, integrated within Europe, with very nice weather and right next to the sea, but also because the government is providing many advantages for tech companies to be established here. We have managed to attract a lot of national and international talent, and we have a community of very young, talented and inexpensive workforce. Salaries in Barcelona are not as high as salaries in London, for example, so for companies that are starting out, it’s better to start with a low fixed cost in labor.

Pilar: It’s easy to relocate people here, because what you’re giving up in salary, you’re gaining in quality of life. And Barcelona is a good brand that attracts people. The city has made it its business to create the best environment for startups. And there are daily meetups for anything that you can possibly imagine!

Carol: And, of course, the infrastructure is also great, with Glóries and Poblenou acting as a startup city, there’s Barcelona Activa, there are all the incubators and accelerators that are providing help for startups… If you work in Barcelona for long enough, meaning three to four years, you will practically know someone in all the biggest companies. There is a notable turn rate, people are rotating between the biggest companies.


Keeping Users Focused

“You have to make sure the user is very aware of the value that you are delivering: and that is the trickiest part.”


Carol, you had some very good advice for startups about focusing on the product first before getting too deep into building the brand. Is there any other advice that you would give to companies that are just starting out in Barcelona, regarding marketing?

Carol: I think that when it comes to branding, tech companies should find a good balance between rational, short-term messages, and messages around delivering value, which are more long-term. For example, technology advances really quickly, and it might confuse your users to keep them updated on all the technological advances of your product, like new features, etc. The user can feel overwhelmed, because, obviously, your product is not the only one that they’re using. So bombarding them with things like “now we are faster!”, “now we have a new filter!”, “now we have the possibility to subscribe!” can weigh them down. You have to make sure the user is very aware of the value that you are delivering: and that is the trickiest part. Many startups are so happy with the new features, they only talk about product development. And they forget to deliver why they have developed all those features, which is value.

This is the thought process behind your website, right?

Carol: In the last six months, we have made an effort to clean up our website, make it more friendly, intuitive and quick. The users that come to Trovit come to the website with a very specific need, which is finding something, since we are in the search business. So, our absolute priority is that the user finds what they’re looking for. We are testing out what it would be like to have advertisements, but we don’t want to confuse our users with mixed messages about third parties. So we’re trying to figure out what would be a perfect mix between our search funnel and other sources of revenue.

What does the future look like for Trovit? What are your plans?

Carol: Like all tech companies, there are always challenges surrounding the product. The product can always get better and faster, more relevant, more intuitive. We are working on how to use behavioral data to understand what users are looking for, and maybe be proactive in showing them what they’re looking for. Also, over 60% of our traffic is mobile, so we’re working on ways to engage mobile users. We also need to make sure that we are identifying users’ pain points within the search process, and we’re building additional services to help them. Our main task is guidance: we guide users through the search process, not only by offering them all the content, but also by giving them extra information that helps them make their decision. For example, if you find an apartment, you want to know whether that apartment is above or below the average price in the area. We have all this information, and we can share it with users. So building services around what we already have is also something that we are looking to do.

If you’d like to read more success stories and learn from the very best, check out our interview with another awesome Barcelona startup, Typeform!

Have your own startup story to share? Don’t hesitate to contact us! We want to hear all about your experience.

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