The year 2021 was the year of the great explosion. During previous years, the accumulated investment was around 1,000 million euros in a fairly stable manner. The first full year of the pandemic, however, multiplied this record by four and closed with more than 4,200 million euros invested in emerging Spanish technology companies.
A record that is explained by the phase in which the sector finds itself: if the first half of the decade was that of the explosion in startups created, the consolidation of the most outstanding to date has allowed them to settle in the market and move on to the growth (when a startup has already validated its market, and moves on to the growth stage), when they achieve much higher investments than those of startups in the initial phases.
Those were the cases of Glovo in April or Jobandtalent in December. Between these two alone, they accumulated more than 1,000 million euros in 2021, more than all the Spanish startups combined in previous years. A context that has fostered proliferation of “unicorns” as we had not seen in Spain to date.
Six unicorns until 2021, four more in less than a year
In recent years “only” six companies had achieved the “unicorn” label (valued over 1,000 million euros): Cabify, Devo, Flywire, Wallbox, eDreams and the aforementioned Glovo. Jobandtalent, as Idealist, joined with their 2021 rounds. Already in January 2022 Travelperk joined. Shortly after, Domestika put the icing on the cake with a round of almost 100 million euros and became the tenth Spanish unicorn by achieving a valuation of 1,140 million euros (with the nuance of having Spanish DNA but having moved to San Francisco).
In that top 10 there are also some well-known startups, such as eDreams, the online travel agency with more than two decades of experience behind it, or Idealista, the real estate portal par excellence. Also others perhaps less known by the ordinary citizen but that have not achieved minor milestones. Flywire, a Valencia-based company based in Boston, went public on Wall Street in March. Travelperk, dedicated to organizing corporate travel, bought three competing companies during 2020 and managed investors such as Gillian Tans, former president of Booking.
Another factor that explains the rise of unicorns is, in addition to the maturing of the ecosystem, with startups that have not stopped accumulating ever-increasing investments over the last five or six years, in which they are startups with a growing internationalization, as explained José Torrego, CEO and founder of The Referent, medium specialized in startups: “Internationalization is the key point. A technology company that stays in its local market has a hard time boosting its valuation. On the other hand, one that internationalizes has it much more feasible, because that is equivalent to much more turnover, more employees and more possibility of organic growth worldwide. And that draws the attention of international investors”, he explains.
More may come in the coming years. The Referent figures in up to two dozen Spanish emerging technology companies that could raise their valuation to four figures in the medium term. They are the ones that are preparing important rounds for 2022 or that are already managing to invoice more than 200 million euros a year. Of those who apply, Torrego highlights Factorial, a Human Resources software that all the investors and experts in venture capital that he has interviewed stand out as a startup with a lot of projection.
Capchase, a startup dedicated to financing other startups, is another one that is closest: its accumulated investment today exceeds 400 million euros. is also cupped, an enterprise development platform for Salesforce; or closer to the end user Wallapop, the queen of sales between individuals, who a year ago reached fifteen million users in Spain. They are accompanied by more like Paack, Clickalia or Redpoint among others. For Spanish startups, the twenties are equivalent to growth, and phase growth equates to dramatic increases in their valuations. The years of the unicorns.