Spain’s economy has been devastated, and it is really up to entrepreneurs to build it back to health. Anders Michelena is doing his part.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of circumstances?
Ander Michelena: I was born in northern Spain. I moved to Madrid when I was 12. I studied in a French school. I then studied at one of the biggest economic universities in Spain for my bachelor’s degree. It was a five-year program of which I spent a year at Marquette University, Milwaukee. That is where I met my wife.
I went back to Spain and shortly after, I moved to London where I worked for three years in investment banking. I made the decision to leave the bank in 2009—in the middle of the financial crisis. My partner who had been an investment banker for seven years also quit with me. Together, we came back to Spain and raised a small amount of money and launched Ticketbis.
Sramana Mitra: What was the concept that you were going to execute on when you started the company? This was in 2008?
Ander Michelena: No, we quit the bank in 2009 and we didn’t launch Ticketbis until January 2010. We didn’t invent any concept at all. We looked at what models were working. We looked at the US, which usually has quite advanced business models. One thing the US companies do not do well is internationalization. They take a lot of time to go abroad.
We checked new models that were successful in the US to apply in Europe. After looking at several different options, we realized that the best sector to start a company was in ticketing. Our model is similar to StubHub in the US. We just copied the model and implemented it in countries where there was nothing similar to that.
Sramana Mitra: You launched in Spain?
Ander Michelena: Yes. Both me and my partner are from Spain. We initially launched in Spain and then expanded. Spain has 40 million people and is a small market. In order to get big volumes, you need to expand to other countries. We launched in Spain in January 2010 but by 2011, we were already entering Portugal, Italy, Mexico, and Brazil. We’re now in 30 plus countries – Europe, Latin America, and Asia.