We are building an amazing team, but we want you to meet our founders: the ones that have made this possible!
Alex and Martí launched Gretel in January 2022 with an international vision from day one, and we want to share with you our first official interview—official as there was no beer involved.
How do you introduce yourself in a bar?
Alex: In Barcelona, I would ask if you were a Barcelona or Madrid football fan. In the UK, I’d ask if you were a fan of rugby or football. That’s what we do in a bar, no? Watch sports and drink up!
Marti: I would definitely start talking about Barça's new signings.
Interesting... Tell me a little bit more about yourselves.
Alex: Alright! I've been building digital products for a few years. Right now I’m building Gretel, an intelligent digital coworker that will change the way you work.
Marti: I’d define myself as a mission-driven entrepreneur, now focused on solving a massive problem with Gretel. I enjoy capturing value from innovative ideas and building huge businesses around them. I've been moving around a lot, living in South America, Singapore, and now back in Barcelona.
So, tell me about Gretel. How did you come up with this idea?
Alex: Marti and I met at the end of 2021. Gretel officially began in January 2022, but I started to create Gretel earlier. Several months before, I started building what laid the foundation for all the fantastic things we are doing today. For the past 6 years, I’ve been head of design, running product teams, putting me at the center of different teams. I was frustrated at not having the data to make better decisions. Having to reschedule calls to take the time to find the data, and decisions taking a long time to make. That was the initial driving force behind Gretel for me. I started creating Gretel while working on this project, and since then I knew Gretel was my future.
Marti: I love talking to people, so I started sharing with my network the idea of creating a platform to help companies be more productive . And that’s when I met Alex. We both experienced similar problems at our previous jobs with information. We have more information than ever, but it’s lost in all the different apps we all use. Alex was already building something to help address this chaos in organizations, and we decided to join forces to change the way people work today.
So Alex, you are the technical brain of the team, and Marti, the business?
Alex: Yup!. I actually didn’t want to do this for a living when I was younger. My career plans, when I was little, were to play rugby (being born in Wales, this was non-optional). Then I wanted to be a marine, and that almost happened. At the same time, I was studying law, so I could’ve been a boring lawyer, which would have been terrible for all of us. Ironically, I ended up marrying one. And software development was always a hobby.
I started when I was 12 by playing around with it. I got injured in a bus crash (fun), so I took some time off from school. My brother was into computers, so I stole his computer and somehow I ended up playing this popular game at the time, Habbo Hotel. From there, little by little, I taught myself design (pixel design FTW!), development, fired up some small businesses, started freelancing and never really looked back.
Marti: Yes, I studied business and finance, but I've always been interested in technology and start-ups. While I was studying, I had my first working experience at a start-up. It felt great to create something and be a part of that growth. Then, I started meeting entrepreneurs and got into the venture capital industry. When I came back from my exchange program in Singapore just before the pandemic, I had some free time, and I started my first startup together with some engineers. It was my first entrepreneurial experience building something from zero. I fell in love with technology around 2009, when Apple became popular in Spain and my grandma started taking some MacBook classes and bought the first iPhone.
Did you always dream about creating something of your own?
Alex: Yeah, ever since I was little. I think the first company I had was taking sweets from my parents and bringing them to school and selling them, which is a crime, but that’s fine. I was in primary school, probably like 9 or something. I used to take them in my backpack and make a quick buck. I imagine buying different types of chocolate? Who knows.
Marti: It was the same for me. We used to have these “mercadillos” (street markets) in my hometown. I used to take all the toys, once even my Playstation 1 that I wasn’t using anymore, and I went there to sell them. I think I got like €300-500. It was crazy for a 7-year-old kid to earn so much money. I used to enjoy exchanging kid cards too and becoming the child with more cards in recess, mostly football related.
Did you have someone in your family that was already an entrepreneur?
Alex: My grandmother ❤️. She was an accountant. I helped her with payrolls and she was a tough boss. She ingrained me with really high standards. After all, nothing p*sses people off and loses you clients quicker than messing up a payroll.
Marti: Both of my grandparents. Starting as a farmer, he then built the first supermarket chain in a touristic area close to Barcelona. A lot of people told him it was an insane idea because only small businesses used to run in small towns, and after a while he proved them wrong. I was always interested in his business and I’ve always been proud of what he built starting from 0.
How are you managing the stress from building a start-up?
Alex: There are definitely parts that are stressful, and Marti and I manage pretty differently. Marti is always surrounded by this stuff. He lives in this tech world 24/7. I don’t do that, and that is one of the big differences between us that I love. My personal life could not be further away from technology. It’s so refreshing for me and, overtime, it has become important to me to have that escape. So when the time comes to switch off, I spend time with my wife, cat, and friends. Typically, that means going to a bar to watch sports. That's my down time. I need to be quiet with a beer and watch sports. Hala Madrid.
Marti: It's a weird day when I finish working before 21h. I don't have a schedule, but I love that, as it doesn’t feel like work. I'm creating value, not just being an employee with no real responsibilities. Building a start-up is all about managing expectations, internally and externally, and sticking to what you need to achieve, fast. When I need to disconnect, playing with a ball always helps (football, tennis, padel, etc). Oh! And skiing, that's the best way to disconnect and recharge batteries.
What has been your biggest failure at work?
Alex: At a previous company, we were growing rapidly, and I was the only designer of any kind at the company. I became stretched too thin. We hired an amazing new person to lead marketing, and I wasn’t able to give them what they needed. I became difficult to work with, and it played a part in setting them up for failure from day one. It ended up with them leaving the company not long after. I remember having a meeting with one of them and apologizing for not giving them what they needed. It was all about managing time, and that is why I’m so picky with my time these days. I really obsess about finding the most effective place to spend my time and, equally important - letting go of places where I am not needed. Especially when it comes to other people, if you are not giving them what they need and you are causing them to fail, that is the biggest failure for me. It haunts me a bit.
Marti: The biggest one was at my previous start-up. We weren't focused enough, as we were still studying and most of us had other projects. It was difficult to be aligned there and share a long term commitment. All failures bring great learning, and we are trying not to replicate those in Gretel. For example, we decided to surround ourselves with investors and early adopters from day one, to get feedback on everything we are building and move faster.
So at Gretel what funding strategy are you using?
Alex: I am awful at this as I hate asking for money. Even when I was a kid, I struggled to ask my grandmother for money to buy sweets. Gretel started as a bootstrap saas company. I love that style of model. I feel it’s more romantic. In these companies, you put in your own money and borrow it from friends and family. You grow little by little. But obviously, it was not sustainable for Gretel. Now we are growing faster, we can do things faster and we have an amazing team. Fundraising is Martí’s business (thank god).
Marti: Exactly, complementary skill sets in the founding team always help. I enjoy talking with stakeholders and presenting Gretel. I would love to be bootstrap too as we did with my previous startup, but we cannot do that now with a huge opportunity ahead.
And the last! How do you see yourselves in 10 years?
Alex: When machines and AI take control of the world, if my name is up there as one of the main responsables, I think I can live with that! Like Lex Luther but with more hair.
Marti: ringing the bell on Nasdaq (check here for more info). https://www.nasdaq.com/marketsite/bell-ringing-ceremony )