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INSIGHTS / MOVERS AND SHAKERS

Spanish business angel Carlos Blanco is betting big bucks on local startups

Spain · Oct 30, 2018· By Amalia González

The serial investor learnt the tricks of the trade early at Barcelona’s flea market

In 1982, Carlos Blanco Vázquez started earning extra pocket money by selling old football cards at the age of 13. He would often travel by subway to sell the playing cards of lesser known football players at Mercat Sant Antoni in Barcelona. Young Blanco quickly learnt how to flog his wares to memorabilia collectors at the local flea market.

His entrepreneurial activities continued at college. In 1985, he was earning over 63,000 pesetas a month by selling computer programs stored in floppy disks. He even subcontracted the disk programming work to family and friends to boost production and sales. It came as no surprise when he started working as a software developer in 1988. Today, Blanco (b. 1968) is going for the big bucks. He is betting his money on local startups in Spain’s booming tech scene. He manages over 85 startups in diverse sectors, ranging from insurance app Brokoli to delivery service Glovo and real estate Housfy.

Jackpot post-dot com crisis

It all started when the CEO of Blanco’s IT company selected him and two colleagues to team up and develop a new computer product. The employer doubled their salaries as incentives for them to set up the offshoot. From then on, Blanco was hooked on starting his own IT software business: New-Info in 1991, Diser 2000 in 1995, OACE Servicios Informaticos in 1996 and Isap Consulting in 1999. All were sold when he decided to focus on his first love - football. The small online sports portal Servifutbol.com was set up as a hobby in 1996. He later pumped all his capital into expanding the e-sports platform to offer 18 types of gaming portals.

In 1999, Blanco also sent an email to Wired magazine after reading an article about an event for entrepreneurs in London. His proposal to host a similar event in Barcelona turned into a surprise opportunity to work with four complete strangers in Spain. All five of them had written to Wired with a similar event idea. Thus, First Tuesday Spain was co-founded by Blanco with people he had never met before. Today he is a passionate networking advocate since his successful experience of working with perfect strangers. The popular monthly events for entrepreneurs and investors are held in Barcelona and Madrid.

Edited by Suzanne Soh

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