Susana de la Puente Wiese: “Spain has a strong and very dynamic startup ecosystem”

28th February 2023

Susana de la Puente is a prominent Peruvian investment banker who played a key role in the transformation of the Latin American financial market in the 1990s. After years in the world of private investment banking and finance, she is currently dedicated to the management, investment, and identification of projects and technology companies of the new economy, better known as startups.

Her professional career is solid. Susana de la Puente has a long career in the financial world. Most of her professional life has been linked to the multinational J.P. Morgan, in New York, where she stayed for 25 years and became vice president for Latin America. She has also worked in a private equity fund in New York and has participated on the board of directors of important Latin American and international companies.

  • What is the current state of the startup ecosystem in Spain?

We are living in a situation characterized by expectancy. In recent years there has been a significant boom in technology companies in Spain. This is partly a consequence of the introduction of a new framework of tax and labor incentives for investment, which is very attractive for shareholders. It’s also a result of reducing the costs of the technology itself and its development.

This growth can be seen reflected in the increase of start-ups, and the successful accumulation of capital that they present. There are already several unicorns (companies that reach a valuation of one billion dollars) in Spain. All these factors have contributed to the generation of a much more strong and dynamic investment environment that supports the creation of new companies. Likewise, it has allowed for more frequent raisings of capital, as well as an improvement in equity valuations.

  •      Would you consider Spain an attractive market for investors?

Europe, in general, is a very attractive market for investors, both because of its size and because of its working capital, which is more dynamic and is more trained and specialized. Many European countries have created “hubs” with schemes to promote investment in startups, focused on technology and innovation.

In addition, Spain is one of the leading global economies, with a cutting-edge infrastructure network. If we add to this that its current ecosystem of startups is in full expansion, it becomes an extremely interesting country to invest in.

  •      Do you think that in Spain there is a lack of investors or entrepreneurial spirit?

Not at all. Spain has great human capital and many young people working on technology and innovation projects. I’ve come across a multitude of startups with very good business plans. What is needed is greater access to risk capital as is the case in other markets such as the United States or England.

  •      In your opinion, what is the key for a startup to be successful?

Human capital is essential. A team trained in different management areas and with a clear project and business vision is needed for success. This team must be highly motivated and committed to the project. And the compensation incentives of the managers must, in addition, be aligned with the objectives of the investors.

Another crucial element is access to venture capital. Lack of capital is one of the main causes of failure for this type of company. It is therefore very important that entrepreneurs have a firm and credible strategy for future plans to raise capital at the different stages of business development.

  •      What do you think are the biggest differences between the United States and Europe in this matter? Is the Old Continent far from having a startup ecosystem like the one in the United States?

The United States has the largest and most developed market in the world, in addition to having greater access to both capital and business infrastructure. However, Europe has made great progress, and the gap between the two continents continues to narrow in terms of the number of companies and the volume of financial resources obtained.

Europe has enough capital to finance good and big projects. It comes from global investors: Europe, America, and Asia… Companies must formulate and develop ambitious plans for growth and global expansion to attract venture capital. In any part of the world, there is money for financing, as well as talented entrepreneurs with good and solid projects.

  • Apart from the United States, would you highlight any other country for its startup market?

I would highlight several. There are very active markets all over the world such as China, Israel, India, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and, now, also Spain. What is most noteworthy is that, despite the existence of a large number of strong markets for startups, there’s not a unique business model. Some countries, such as England, choose to facilitate investment with tax incentives and minimize bureaucracy, which favors business creation. Others opt, instead, to create hubs and provide government capital for the education and management of this type of entrepreneurship