Mohammed became a part of S2M ecosystem in a rather unusual manner. He was supposed to take a shuttle bus from Utrecht to Eindhoven airport for an early morning flight back home, however, the bus driver didn’t stop to pick him up, resulting Mohammed missing his flight. To find a place where he could stay to figure out his next steps in this situation, he called his ex-housemate Nynke to ask her advice. She suggested him to come to S2M Utrecht CS. There, he was introduced to the concept of social capital and the vision of Society 3.0. Ever since, he has been an active member of our network and visited us a few times at S2M Utrecht CS.

After moving back to Barcelona, where he has spent most of his life, he decided to continue his career in the field of social economy, consultancy and social innovation. He even used S2M as a case study in his Innovation Management class during his last Masters studies on Social Business and Cooperatives here in Barcelona.

When a part of S2M team was visiting Barcelona for a workashion, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to meet with Mohammed – one of the most active members of S2M ecosystem. During the lunch in the picturesque typical Spanish place in the olympic port by the infamous Barceloneta beach, we had a fascinating discussion about differences in Dutch and Spanish cultures, freelancing, local startup scenes, attitudes and values. We’re excited to share some of the insights of this curious conversation with you!

Entrepreneurial Barcelona

While we’re an active part of Dutch startup ecosystem, we naturally tend to focus on what is happening in the Netherlands and the surrounding areas, overlooking what our southern counterparts are busy with. Turns out, we’re missing out on a lot! While Barcelona-based startups are not dominating the European startup scene , there are a lot of ambitious creative people in the city eager to push entrepreneurship forward. This can be seen in the growing number of remote workers, both from Spain and abroad, attracted by a laid-back lifestyle and relatively cheap costs of living and, subsequently, the number of co-working spaces and, most notably, an increase in investments. A clear example of this boost is the bright district of @22 where besides the headquarters of Amazon, Facebook or other big corporations, have also been an astonishing growth of co-working facilities from names such as WeWork, Utopicus, Spaces or Loom. Some of these spaces also house some branches of big organizations searching for a higher level of creativity and innovation. 

This means more and more companies are rising to prominence in the past few years in the region. However, their growth is frequently impeded by the traditional conservatism of Spanish investors, who are interested to invest most of the times in the already proven concepts. Also, existing at the moment infrastructure is still underdeveloped, will just a few accelerators and incubators, making it difficult to access startup networks and investments. This results into many ambitious newcomers pursuing their entrepreneurial development abroad. Would the situation change and would Barcelona become a big name in the European startup scene? We’re yet to see.

Working in Barcelona

While in perception of many tourists overpopulating the city might be that work-life balance in the city is in favour of the latter, the reality of everyday life is rather different. In fact, Barcelona is a good place for career-oriented professionals. There are many opportunities to develop and get ahead – diverse professional events, meetups, networking and innovation initiatives supported by the government.

In Barcelona, professionals combine Spanish laid back approach to life with rigorous professional ethics – for example, while lunch break still extends well above Dutch norms, it is frequently combined with work negotiations.

Have you worked in Spain yourself? We would be curious to hear about your experiences and cultural differences!