Startups in Spain: Challenges and Opportunities

Blog April 11, 2024

In the current era, the term “startup” has become a prominent player in the global business landscape. These emerging companies not only embody innovation and technology but also represent a bold spirit in facing challenges and creating disruptive solutions.

In this Befree blog, we will explore the universe of startups, analyzing the challenges they face and the opportunities that arise in a context of constant business transformation, especially in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).

What is a Startup?

A startup is defined as an emerging company that focuses on innovation and technology to create a scalable and disruptive business model. These companies, characterized by their youth and limited resources, seek to address problems where solutions are not obvious and success is not guaranteed. The underlying philosophy focuses on creatively solving problems and taking risks.

Development of Startups in Spain

The startup ecosystem in Spain has undergone significant changes in recent years. In 2021, there were around 22,771 active startups, which raised €3.082 billion in funding during the first three quarters of the year. In 2022, the number of active startups decreased to approximately 11,000, but still raised €1.6 billion in funding. However, in 2023, the investment volume decreased by 32.2%, although nine unicorns were recorded and five companies were on track to become unicorns. Despite this, Spain remains attractive to foreign investors, with over 80% of funding coming from abroad.

Challenges and Opportunities

  • Experienced Talent: One of the most significant challenges for startups in Spain is acquiring experienced talent. While founders may have a clear vision and contagious passion for their companies, reaching a point where more structured and expert management is needed may require a change in direction.
  • Limited Funding: Despite the notable growth of the startup ecosystem, the availability of funding remains a challenge. While projects with basic proposals were funded in 2021, the current fund shortage has led to widespread reluctance to invest in projects not related to artificial intelligence. This presents a double challenge and opportunity for entrepreneurs: competing in a market with less competition, but also adapting to new conditions and managing resources more responsibly and efficiently.
  • Clear Profitability: In the current context of capital scarcity, having vague profitability plans is no longer sufficient. Investors are looking for companies that can demonstrate a clear path to profitability in the short or medium term. Raising funds now involves explaining in detail how and when the break-even point will be reached.


  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Sector: Despite general financial challenges, the artificial intelligence sector continues to attract large sums of capital. Companies like Mistral AI have raised significant amounts of funding to compete with industry giants. This situation presents an opportunity for startups in Spain that can offer innovative solutions in the field of AI.

In conclusion, startups represent innovation and boldness in today’s business world. Although Spain faces challenges such as talent acquisition and funding limitations, opportunities emerge in sectors such as artificial intelligence. The key to success lies in adapting and demonstrating clear profitability.

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