Apr 27, 2023
Hey! I'm Martí Gou, co-founder at Gretel 👋. If you're here, it's probably because you've heard about our recent pre-seed fundraising round announcement🤑.
As an entrepreneur, you don't tend to have a lot of time to think about what you've achieved and the reasons behind it. But I'm on a long flight to the US and feeling inspired, so I hope I can inspire some of you too. Let me start by giving some context about my background.
I'm 24 years old and originally from a small Catalan town called Pals, far away from the startup ecosystem of Barcelona😅. I ended up working as a venture capitalist in the golden days (aka free money for entrepreneurs) and became an operator in 2022 when the unbridled euphoria ended.
You might be wondering how I got here, how I met my co-founder Alex, and why these two points were important to close a pre-seed round with no metrics.
Let's start by clarifying one thing: there's no magical formula for success, and I don't believe we've achieved anything close to it yet. This is the path that has worked for me to get where we are today.
Let's go back in time to 2016 when I was 18. I started a degree in Business Administration in Barcelona. During the summer of 2018, I decided to seek an internship, and I worked as a product manager for a young startup called Carnovo. It is an online site that sells cars, and I love cars, so that was an instant match 🤩.
There's no magical formula for success, and I don't believe we've achieved anything close to it yet.
Carnovo was part of the Antai ecosystem, one of the biggest venture studios in Europe that have launched startups such as Glovo and Wallapop. I really enjoyed the experience and realized the impact I could have working with startups, so I decided to learn more about the space focused on the investment side.
Some months later, I jumped into the banking industry through an internship for a fund investing in tech-quoted companies. I still had a lot to learn and I wanted to have a solid foundation, so I decided to do a Master's in Finance and make the leap as a venture capitalist - the perfect combination of what I liked the most, investments and entrepreneurship 🤓.
Before starting the Master's in 2020, as I had to shorten my exchange in Singapore due to the pandemic 😷, I tried to join Inveready as an intern, but I got rejected. Inveready is one of the most well-known venture capital firms in Spain.
"I realized the impact I could have working with startups, so I decided to learn more about the space focused on the investment side".
I didn't give up and kept seeking different opportunities in the venture capital industry until I met José Ramón Álvarez, the former director of Open Innovation at Samsung in California (US).
I worked with him for almost a year in the fundraising process of a fund, getting in touch with different startup ecosystems (US, UK, Spain, France, Italy, etc.). His passion for this world infected me (not literally) 🤣.
Once I finished the master's in 2021, I applied to Inveready again, and this time I was hired 🙌. I entered with a non-typical role, leading the M&A (mergers and acquisitions) process of a portfolio company.
I enjoyed working closely with entrepreneurs. As a good hustler, I tried to be active in the ecosystem, get to know the best entrepreneurs and invest in them.
How is your memory 🧐? I don't know if you'll remember, but 2021 was a crazy year for everyone involved in the startup world. Money was deployed faster than ever, and the FOMO (fear of missing out) on the best deals was real.
With this background, why did you become an entrepreneur, you'd ask? Well... Gretel hasn't been my first project. In fact, it is the third one, but the first one with the ambition to become a billion-dollar company.
The first project I started was a "social entrepreneurship" for a foundation in Chile. It was implemented in 3 months and once finished, it ended my adventure 😑.
The second one was Klasea, a bootstrapped B2B SaaS I built with 5 engineering students in our final year of bachelor’s and master’s (Víctor, one of the engineers, ended up joining Gretel last year 🙌). We helped local educational academies manage their students, documentation, and online classes during the Covid-19 pandemic. We decided to stop the project at the end of our studies as we were not engaged and aligned enough 🤷.
I really enjoy building things from scratch, being close to people, and having a high impact on them. As a venture capitalist, I was so close to entrepreneurs that I decided to move to that side and become one full-time.
The turning point was when I met my co-founder Alex (cheers to my good friend Víctor Navarro who introduced us), who shared with me the opportunity to revolutionize the way people work by making employees smarter, data-driven, and better at their jobs.
We had complementary skill sets, and we wanted to build something big. We were passionate about it, so we threw caution to the wind in January 2022 🚀.
I really enjoy building things from scratch, being close to people, and having a high impact on them.
What are the prospects for investors for a profile like mine? I've never built a successful startup; I graduated just a few months before starting Gretel, and my professional background wasn't that relevant to what we wanted to build. However, I knew the investor game, and I knew we were in a hot space with a team eager to succeed.
Maybe I wasn't the most experienced entrepreneur, but because of my recent experiences, I had a strong network of investors. So, I decided to reach out to them and pitch them the idea of Gretel 📣.
I knew the investor game, and I knew we were in a hot space with a team eager to succeed.
Some of them were recognized entrepreneurs and business angels and ended up investing. These investors included Dídac Lee, Kintxo Cortés, Lanai Partners (Jeroen Merchiers, Rubén Ferreiro, and Guillermo Libre), Sergi Bastardas (co-founder at Colvin), Lluis Cañadell (co-founder at Treinta), Man Hei (co-founder at Treinta), Luke Miller, Francis Plaza (co-Founder of PayMongo), Oriol Juncosa, Carlos Otermin, and Juanjo Mostazo, among others.
We still needed to demonstrate a lot of execution, but we had the trust of the right people on board and some money to start testing the first hypothesis of our idea.
During the first nine months, we narrowed down our solution to marketing profiles after a lot of validation with the market, hired a strong complementary founding team, and built the foundations of our product.
When I went back to fundraising again, I realized the bar was higher and it was much tougher than it was at the beginning of 2022 😥. You needed to demonstrate much more to investors as they became more risk-averse and cautious when deploying capital. Luckily for us, Enzo Ventures believed in Gretel from the beginning, and in the next few months, we managed to convince Inveready and Extension Fund (part of the Antai ecosystem).
Investors invest in lines, not dots. They trusted the founding team to execute the ambitious vision we have in mind.
This trust was built over the years, long before Gretel began. Here are some of the reasons why they decided to invest: Check the Press Release.
In 2022 you needed to demonstrate much more to investors as they became more risk-averse and cautious when deploying capital.
I hope this post can inspire current or future entrepreneurs to stay motivated when fundraising in these tough times and to try to think long-term 💪.
We've received more than 200 "NO" responses, pivoted once, and almost ran out of cash. And yet, this is only the first step of an exciting journey that will unfold over the next few years.
Thanks to all investors, the founding team, early adopters, family, and friends for their trust in Gretel 🧡.
Fill out the form and find out what we're building!