Heygo is a Barcelona-based service linking freelancers with clients. It now has over 100,000 users and is touted as one of the city’s most promising startups. CEO Nicolás Espinosa tells Red Herring about Barcelona as a tech hub, and how the freelance market–and Heygo–have changed in the past years.
How do Barcelona and Spain rank as places to do business?
Some people consider Barcelona as the new Silicon Valley and at some point that can be applicable. Not when it comes to investments, but to creating a successful innovating ecosystem. A study by Cushman & Wakefield placed Barcelona in the 4th place on a ranking of 33 best cities to do business.
The city has been ranked as one of the best places to do business or start a new start up company. We must remember that Barcelona leads a big economic area with a long industrial tradition and a dense business net.
Barcelona’s tech scene is developing infrastructures mainly around the 22@ district. This is well known for being an innovative neighborhood which, by recovering historical spaces, has been able to host international tech companies, startup accelerators and development programs boosted by private foundations.
However, we must admit that Barcelona, such as the rest of Spain, is still not perceived as an easy market to invest in. Although our efforts in innovating and entrepreneuring, it is really complicated to achieve investments. We must fight more than the USA, since we’re not an established market yet. Still with that, we are ready to change our world.
How different is the Heygo of today, compared with the one you originally conceived?
At the beginning, Heygo was conceived as a Periscope alike company. But the Spanish market wasn’t quite ready to invest in such an idea and it didn’t come across. However, that experience turned out to be useful for us to realise what this market really needed.
A simple reflection sparked our idea: If you can get something back for things you own like your house, your car, your clothes, your computer or your furniture, why shouldn’t that be applicable to our knowledge, which happens to be our most valuable gift? That’s how Heygo was born, as a response to the Spanish market real needs.
What is the most important thing to get right first–especially in a competitive landscape like freelance services?
The main thing to do is to value any idea. We always need to test the product, concept or each valuable proposal. Furthermore, it is a must to analyze permanently where the market is going to, because our field is changing faster than others.
The issue in Spain is that it’s hard to get top level teams, but in spite of that, we’re getting to gather them.
How has the freelance market changed in recent years–and how does Barcelona compare to other major Spanish cities like Madrid, or Valencia?
We think Barcelona, like the rest of the country, finally understood that the economy is changing along with all those reflections the European Commission issued last summer, given the irruption of information and communication technologies. That is why Heygo became the leading App in published services within both Spain and the rest of Europe.
Many people have a talent or skill someone can take profit from. So we live in an environment where trust-based personal relationships are becoming important again. Apps are gradually helping us change that individualistic insight into trusting other people’s criteria.
At Heygo we feel really happy because, even being born in Barcelona, we strengthened ourselves under the trust of every city and town in Spain.
Are you planning to scale into other territories soon?
Since a few months ago, we’ve been planning our expansion abroad into countries like Germany or Italy. It is really important for us to export our mission: giving our bit to make the world a better place in which every people with a specific talent or skill can take the most out of it. At Heygo we will keep working like we did so far: developing our app always based on our users’ feedback.