In one of the most traditional places in the Spanish capital, the Arganzuela district, one of the driving forces of young entrepreneurs is based. An old factory of the twentieth century gives shelter to the Google Campus of Madrid, who according to its director Sofia Benjumea is a center that “aims to be the center of acceleration and innovation in Spain.” In just three years, a gap has been made between the main countries of the world. In fact, there are only six equal spaces and Spain was the fourth to become a reality.
Being inside the walls of the Google Campus, it is inevitable to fantasize about stepping on American soil and being in Silicon Valley. And that is the idea. The director affirms that it is much more than “giving powerful wifi”. “Google has a DNA of undoubted innovation and we think that entrepreneurs have to grow and be connected outside of Silicon Valley as if they were really here.”
This ‘factory’ of innovation, with more than 2,500 square meters of amenities and facilities for the new generation of entrepreneurs consists of three parts. On the ground floor there is a huge cafeteria to which anyone can access. The chairs, tables and sofas are interspersed with the smell of coffee, computers and arcade machines in the more ‘eighties’ style. This room is open from nine in the morning to nine at night.
As the director of the Google Campus Madrid explains, here the companies “that are still in an incubator stage and are in full development” meet and work. “We came to the cafeteria for several days to absorb the ecosystem and soak up how you work”, tells EL ESPAÑOL Andrea, CEO of Rated Power, a company that works in the renewable energy sector and works from the Madrid campus.
Inside this old ship in which electricity was generated, more than 40,000 members congregate and in it more than 30 companies work from sunrise to sunset looking for an opportunity and make an important hole in this world. These ‘startups’ are located in the noble zone of the factory; between the second and third floors as they have attracted the attention and trust of the two companies associated with Google: Tetuan Valley and SeedRocket.
In addition to an almost idyllic location to work, what Google Campus intends is to strengthen ties between young people who seek to move forward, with their ideas and tools, a new company.
The idea could be similar to that of a newborn baby that requires all the care and teach him to walk, to eat, to defend himself: and once they have grown older, open the doors to begin a new stage, but with the certainty that from time to time they will return to Arganzuela to continue with their training, just as the young students return home to provide themselves with ‘tuppers’ for the long week of studies.
During a period of between 9 months and a year they are usually day after day until they pack their bags. “It is a source of pride for us to go out of here with a strong and sustainable company,” the director says with a smile from ear to ear.
Help and teach
The help between the different companies is a basic pillar for the Campus, as highlighted by the Campus Director. “We must highlight the climate of collaboration that exists because there have been cases in which several companies have not been able to move forward and have to close, but there have been cases that entrepreneurs have stayed in other projects because they have been hired. On some occasions, startups go through difficulties that others have helped them. We encourage and challenge them to help each other, we want them to be autonomous, “declares Google’s board.
Second floor of Google Campus Carlos R. Cózar Silvia Pérez
Another function that Google fulfills is to teach. Constantly. Through its projects and talks the company wants to provide the startups with sufficient knowledge and bases so that they have clear guidelines that will mark the future of their company.
“Campus Residence has recently been launched, which is a learning journey. Throughout the weeks, talks of other ‘startups’ are organized to help them through their experience. On the other hand, we cede our auditorium for conferences. During these days we also bring important executives from Google to advise new talent “, explains Sofía Benjumea.
Feet on the ground
The atmosphere is idyllic to be able to think that within those walls you can get very far, but Benmujea is in favor of putting your feet on the ground. “Entrepreneurship is hard and difficult, it requires a lot of work and sacrifice. It is like a child. You have to be careful to trivialize it. We offer a favorable environment, but we do not advocate entrepreneurship, “he says.
However, he points out that on many occasions the hackneyed comment of the “little ball you have given” is heard, something that he wants to banish. “The people who have arrived there because they have worked for many hours between these walls and have been glued to the phone and the computer. They have left their lives for the project, “he stresses.
As for the new times faced by innovation, Benmujea argues that it is a good time to trust these projects due to the “maturity that entrepreneurs have recently acquired and the investor appetite”. For this reason, he stresses that the key to “success is to generate success”.