The Guest Blog highlights Guiri Business members and their experiences as foreigners working in the Spanish market – in their own words.
Fredrik Johnsson is this week´s guest blogger. He is the featured speaker in this week´s Techseeds Conference – TECTEC Barcelona is a gathering, a meeting and a networking opportunity for all those professionals in the Barcelona technology industry. It´s designed for breaking walls between hackers, entrepreneurs, investors and influencers. And it´s going to be fun too!
(More Information and RSVP) *10% discount with Guiri Business Promo code: GUIRI (all in caps)
My name is Fredrik Johnsson. I was born in Sweden, but grew up in Canada and the USA where I studied at MIT and spent the first years of my professional life. I also lived for a short time in the UK and have been living in Barcelona for the past 16 years. After moving around so much, I feel like a native and a ‘guiri’ at the same time in may places.
I came to Barcelona in the fall of 1997 to join Cluster Consulting, a telecoms strategy consultancy based here but working very much internationally where I managed the Scandinavian business of the firm for five years, from a base in Barcelona. Since then I have started a foundation supported by the Generalitat and ESADE and Node an innovation consultancy. I also spent just over two years working in a corporate context with Havas Media working on understanding and developing a view for the future of the media business This year, I have decided to bring my focus back to having a local impact, working to improve our collective situation by developing businesses that have a positive approach. I am now working directly with Creative HotHouse, a start-up accelerator in the Poble Nou, as a mentor and advisor, and as acting CEO of one of the start-ups, Speeb. Speeb is a platform for helping bloggers make money from their content through ‘native advertising’ or sponsored posts.
As a person with an international background and skillset based in Barcelona, I believe that the key for ‘guiri entrepreneurs’ is to keep that focus. Barcelona can be an excellent platform for launching businesses overseas, but right now is a difficult time here. It is difficult to find money for your projects, and difficult to find a market for your product or services here in Spain. This is why we have focused on balancing the desire to contribute to the local economic community by building businesses with an international focus. At CHH we are working to develop businesses taking advantage of the ideas and talent that exist in Barcelona by giving young entrepreneurs the support they need. As a part of this we have expanded our activity to SEAsia where we find markets, partners and financing for the companies in our portfolio, helping them to break out of a difficult local economic context. This is an approach that public initiatives do not and cannot take. We do this in a personal and human way, working closely with the entrepreneurs individually on their specific needs and their projects rather than running a ‘programme’.
I believe in this model for the near and mid-term future. That being said, I think it is important and healthy both for your business and personally to make an effort to integrate and truly ‘be here’ not just come here for the sun for an ex-pat adventure.
I am convinced that a constructive, optimistic, positive approach is the only way to move forward. We have much to gain by pushing to solve real problems through business solutions, built by energetic passionate entrepreneurs, whatever their origin.