I interviewed Pello Gamez, one of three Geoactio’s entrepreneurs, who I met when they first launched their company. I negotiated Start Up Capital Navarra’s investment in their company. Since then, I have been witness to the positives changes in Geoactio, thanks to these entrepreneurs’ efforts, sacrifices and capacity to adapt to the market. Geoactio’s story is a good example of the difficulties which a start-up faces its first years and how its entrepreneurs overcame them.
Startup: GEOACTIO, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain.
Activity: Software and mobile applications development. Smart city and mobility projects. Smart bluetooth.
Launching: November 2007. 3 employees.
Currently: 12 employees.
Entrepreneur: Pello Gámez. Founder and Sales Manager. Bachelor of Business Administration. Three years working for banking, four years in financing departments and seven years in managing positions, including the last five years in Geoactio. The other founders are Juancho Cabrera, CEO, and Diego Bujanda, Project Manager.
• What is your business model?
We work three different lines of business:
- Smart city projects and smart mobility projects. We develop software in the following areas: urban and metropolitan transport, bicycle transport, open data, smart destinations and mobile access solutions for public parking and restricted access areas.
- Mobility and e-commerce. We develop mobility projects for businesses, online shops and marketing online webs, and apps.
- Smart Bluetooth. We have developed different products like BlueActio (a receiver and an app to enter your garage using your smartphone), devices and software to locate people inside buildings or to track assets indoors.
• Is your current activity very different from the one you started?
Completely different. We started developing telecommunications consultancy projects, which gave us 100% of our incomes, but they didn’t continue working. All of our currency business lines come from R&D projects.
• What do you wish you had known when you started that you know now?
That all of this was going to be harder than we thought! We would have loved to know more about business and organizational strategy. And also about how to get financing.
• What is the biggest mistake that you have made and what have you learned from it?
Hmmm… There have been so many, especially in the human resources management. We have lost a lot of time because there were too many people working inefficiently. We also have taken too much time to guide our company towards more productive business lines.
• If you could start over again what would you do differently?
I would spend much less money. I think we would do more with every Euro spent.
• Apart from your own capital, how much financing have you raised?
We, the three founders, brought 63,000€ and Start Up Capital Navarra, a seed capital fund, invested 125,000€ for 25% capital. We also got a 40,000€ subsidy from the Government of Navarra for our R&D project, a 100,000€ participative loan from ENISA, and a 196,000€ loan from Neotec-CDTI, which we will start to give back next year.
• What was the biggest challenge to get investors?
Achieving focus in the project and developing a business plan. It was labour intensive.
• What do you consider to be the most important characteristic of an investor?
Start Up Capital Navarra has given us a lot of freedom and trust in the current management and a lot of guidance. The venture fund representative on our Board of Directors has shared his business experience with us and has provided us with good advice.
• What have you learned from raising capital?
It is more complicated than it seems and it requires a lot of time.
• How long did it take you to sell your first product?
The first product was made very quickly because it didn’t require intensive development time. However it took four years to develop our next product, BlueActio, which we think will be our flagship product.
• How did you manage to get your first client?
Thanks to my partners experience. We got our first client before we had even founded our company.
• What was the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Lack of initial projects made it difficult to show the capability of the company. However, after five years, it seems that our image as a “start-up” is ceasing to harm us.
• What do you enjoy most about your start-up?
Daily work, the joy of developing projects and doing what we like.
• Where do you imagine your company and yourself in five years?
Not very different from we are now, a little more stabilized, slightly bigger, and high technology oriented.
• What advice would you offer to any soon-to-be startup entrepreneur?
Think twice about it. Try to spend as little as possible at the beginning. Do not be too optimistic in your forecasts and be prepared to work 16 hours a day. And enjoy it, because it’s worth no matter what happens!
Thank you very much Pello for sharing your experience with Passion For Startups. Your ideas are clear and direct. They show us that launching a start-up is not a bed of roses.
Good luck with your start-up!
Geoactio’s Experience Pill:
– “Pivoting” the business model to taking aim and fit into their marketplace: if entrepreneurs take into accounts that they are not choosing the right activity to generate income, they recommended to change the direction of the company towards more productive business activities. Geoactio’s current activity is totally different from its beginning.
– Consider the “time to market“: a start-up takes months, even years to put a product on the market. GeoActio has four years to develop its flagship product.
– Austerity: Most startups spend money too fast. Slow it down. Taking advantage of every dollar.
– Proceed With Caution: forecasts should be cautious. The business plan forecast are rarely borne out.
– Team: people with different and complementary skills: team management, marketing and search for funding.
– Human resources: managing people properly, optimize their performance.
– Financing: it is very difficult to achieve and it requires a lot of efford. Great entrepreneurs with innovative projects can raise financing if they work hard. GeoActio got it!
– Enjoy: starting a business requires sacrifices and dedication, so if you do not enjoy the job is not worth it.
Concentrated Pill: Work hard + Perseverance + Pivot fast + Enjoy!