Ari Chazan talks to us about his company FreeSpeech:
Where did the original idea come from?
Well, It started by a 'scratch your own itch' kind of way.
I have been involved in the telecommunications industry for over 15 years and there was one thing that always bothered me: Having to pay outrageous charges for international calls when I was away from my desk.
I quickly set up the service for myself to try it out and thought: ”Hey, this is pretty cool” maybe other people would like this kind of service too.
How long did it take to get your business off the ground?
We stared developing the idea in earnest about a year ago. The main challenge then was technical. It took us about six months to develop the platform and start to market it.
In the beginning the management team consisted of myself so, being a geek that I am, the marketing and sales side wasn’t given much attention to.
After meeting up with Benoit Vandevivere and Oriol Bajet, we decided to partner up. They took over the marketing and sales side, so that really freed me up to concentrate on the technology.
Did you find the paperwork difficult?
To a certain degree, yes. I was hoping that the crisis would be an opportunity to reform the bureaucracy. Starting a company in Spain takes about a month and 1000€. In contrast, in the UK you can do it online in less than 10 minutes, for example. I hope this will change.
As a telecoms provider we had to jump through quite a few more hoops as you can imagine.
On the whole though it is not as daunting as some portrays it. You do have to arm yourself with quite a bit of patience, though.
What are the positive aspects about having a business here?
The great thing about Barcelona is you have young and ambitious tech talent from which to choose.
Also you find people who speak many languages and just want to live here.
Costs are lower that other European cities and of course, you get to live here too, let’s not forget that!
And the negative aspects?
The sun and beach are a major distraction;) Kidding aside, as I mentioned before, bureaucracy is an issue, and sometimes frustrating and time consuming.
Apart from that, on the whole it’s mostly positive.
Are there any other useful contacts, tips or information you think would be useful to other foreign entrepreneurs in Barcelona? Please describe:
As an entrepreneur I would give the following advice: You must invest in order to grow, but you must invest wisely. Control your cost structure. Don’t buy what you can rent, don’t rent what you can borrow!
Hire more people as the business grows, and hire the best! one excellent employee is worth more that 10 good ones. This is especially true in technology.
Also marketing is key. A product that sells itself is a myth. forget it. No matter how good your product is you must constantly be pushing it. Not only new clients, but most importantly existing clients. Entrepreneurs frequently forget that. Its much easier to sell to people whom you’ve already sold to.
Keeping an existing client is one tenth of the cost of acquiring an new client and has the exact same value. Your money will go a lot farther if you invest in your existing client base.
Also if well treated, they are your most potent marketing tool. People love to throw the term “Viral Marketing” around. Well, this means happy customers pushing your product.
FreeSpeech - www.freespeech.es