Interview With Katelyn Melan. Member -Tetuan Valley
Interview With Katelyn Melan
Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
Katelyn from Baltimore Maryland, worked with Tetuan Valley, founded by Alex Barrera, Bernardo de Tomas, and Luis Rivera in 2009 which was part of Okuri Ventures. Right now Katelyn works at Altium Capital, in M & A and remains a board member of the pre-accelerator, which has since been made an independent Association. Okuri worked with Tetaun Valley, Startupbootcamp, an accelerator in the red de viveros de Madrid Emprende in Carabanchel, and provided other consulting services to startups and early-stage investors. When some of the initial founders leaving to pursue other business initiatives, Carmen Bermejo who’s now the President took over the day-to-day running of Tetuan. Katelyn is not an entrepreneur herself, but has been supportive of the ecosystem since deciding to stay here.
How long have you been here and why did you come?
She’s been here 4 years having come to study at ICADE business school, Katelyn felt passionate about life in Spain and wanted to stay.
Why Spain and why Madrid and what opportunities do you see inherent here in it being a place to establish a new business?
According to Katelyn Madrid and more generally Spain’s strength is in Human Capital; a talent rich environment where, in an environment that has a lower cost of living, the salaries are as low as a third of what they are in London meaning the burn rate for a start up is lower and the access to talented people to work with is greater. Katelyn feels Madrid’s ecosystem has the potential to be successful.
How does the environment here compare to your home country?
Katelyn studied in Boston, which she feels is the second best environment for entrepreneurs in the states (after the obvious answer), especially in the areas of biotechnology and healthcare with its proximity to the academic research communities and the funding that inevitably accompanies these. Katelyn feels that if an entrepreneur is able to gain some traction in an environment like Spain that is still not especially start up positive, in a more encouraging environment like Boston they are likely to really fly.
What is the biggest problem facing Spain right now?
A lot of the legislation that has been passed in recent years designed to make life easier for international people arriving has in fact not been as effective as it could have been, and in some cases has made life more difficult. However for Spain itself Katelyn feels small thinking is a big problem: Spanish entrepreneurs seeing only Spain as their market and not thinking beyond its borders. Also the risk averse culture which is although is currently changing has meant there has been a lack of positive reinforcement of risk taking despite the evidence showing that a climate where people have played it safe has not been ultimately conducive to economic growth.
How can and do, foreigners coming here manage to integrate?
Katelyn said that up until a few years ago the startup scene was fragmented into small tribes. There was a lack of cohesion and effective collaboration between entities causing overall confusion, and possessive attitudes over each groups ‘turf’ within the startup landscape. It can be confusing for a foreigner to arrive and navigate between this without a political awareness of the different groups and key players, although there is increasingly greater unity.
What have the biggest challenges been in setting up here?
Lack of access to capital in the “famous” equity gap. Also transparency is a big problem.
What are the advantages of Google for Entrepreneurs coming here to open a campus and how do you think it can be pivotal in assembling a thriving tech cluster?
There is a certain amount of community mistrust as nobody is currently quite sure what Google’s end game is in setting up here, although it is seen as a positive thing.
How can Spain benefit from greater Internationalisation and in your opinion what does it need to do to foster that?
With more people arriving and following best practices from more developed clusters this will have a knock on effect of increasing appetite for risk and opening Spain’s new companies up to greater internationalisation.