Interview with Izanami Martínez, CEO of Doctor_24
I could not avoid noticing that you studied Humanities and Anthropology! Where did you get your entrepreneurship spirit and become addicted to setting up your own companies?
Since childhood, I saw my mother turn her passion – education – into reality. This, studying Anthropology online and still having too much free time led me to reconcile anthropology studies with my first business: the center for dance, yoga and pilates ‘La Esfera’. This first business, although it was more laid-back than the later digital business, began my addiction to execute ideas and make things happen.
Knowing the difficulty of being an entrepreneur in Spain, would you encourage people with careers in humanities and arts to look beyond teaching? What advice would you give them?
Of course! The vast majority of skills and aptitudes needed are not related with being artsy or sciency. If you lack the skills needed for business management, you can take a Master of Business Management or some specialised courses aimed at the knowledge you are lacking. Continuous training is also fundamental for entrepreneurs.
I think it was Confucius who said ‘find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life’. I am passionate about Doctor_24´s objective of making the health sector more digital by improving access and quality while also reducing costs. On the one hand, the work done by the Spanish Association of Startups is another key driver for making a better ecosystem for everyone and to me, it’s a way to give back to the community everything it gave me until now.
Do you believe Spain is adapting to the changes generated by the digital realm? What could be done to promote more rapid and effective change and ensure that no-one is left behind?
The Spanish ecosystem is growing and maturing, but we have a very important brake due to how slow the development of legislation and Spanish bureaucracy are. A more flexible regulatory framework that, amongst other things, encourages innovation and attracts international resources would help the ecosystem catch up with other countries and avoid one of the main problems these days, which is the loss of talent, investment and turnover. As an example of the actions within this framework, there is the creation of a self-employed quota linked to the income that responds to the different types of work that creates the digital environment and supports innovation. Collaborative economy finds a brake on that quota and is a heavy burden for start-ups when they start off and is hard for them to make any income.
What do you think of the European ecosystem in terms of strengths and weaknesses? In Startup Europe we seek good practices in ecosystems that we can duplicate. In your opinion, what European country is a leader in terms of the level of readiness in helping startups?
I would say UK and Germany, especially Berlin. Program SIX UK (The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) is a reference for us as it has managed to facilitate investment and encourage investment from business angels and promote overall seed capital investment. On the other hand, Europe is at a crucial time as the European Commission is working on the Digital Single Market. Depending on how it´s done, the European economy could benefit greatly from it and we don’t have to be competitive with other markets.
In the association of Spanish start-ups you give a voice to Spanish start-ups. What is it that they need? Could you say that the needs are similar to those of neighbouring countries? If so, would it be ok to say European start-ups?
As we discussed before, there are great challenges for European start-ups but we also have our own problems here in Spain. One of them would be the taxation applied to startups, which includes the famous “exit tax”, the need for innovation programs and public procurement to adapt to start-ups needs, the difficulties that starting a business involve and the little flexibility of the regulatory framework.
What would you like to achieve in the Spanish Association for start-ups? How are you innovating with this initiative? What are your biggest challenges today? We dream of an innovative modern Spain that is well-integrated into a competitive and modern Europe. Our challenges are also European challenges but we are particularly concerned about regulation on copyright, platforms and collaborative economy. In Spain: tax reform, innovative public procurement and understanding the differences in start-ups in relation to other companies.
Did you know about Startup Europe, the initiative of the European Commission? Do you know how we could futher help start-ups, not just Spanish, but European ones ?
Yes, we know about SE. We believe the best way to help is to bring the voice of start-ups to the Digital Single Market negotiations. To be honest, we receive worrying messages about the proposals on the table, many of them dictated by the economic interests from sectors that see their dominant position threatened. For example, if it’s approved that platforms have to be accountable for everything that is uploaded on them or that permission to link on the Internet is required, this would not only destroy the ability to innovate, but also destroy the Internet as we know it today.
Izanami attended Zinc Shower last 20 May, where she gave a talk on e-Health.