By: Azaina Shaikh and Paola Hasbun
We spoke with Martina Guzmán, entrepreneur and Pitch coach, whose relentless ambition to help female entrepreneurs and enthusiastic personality has made her a true inspiration for many.
Martina represents the Best3Minutes methodology in Spain and is the co-founder of FEM-START Spain. With a background in marketing and advertising, she founded the MOOI Academy and MOOI Web Design, two spaces created to help harness creativity and facilitate the transformation of ideas into real businesses.
Could you share with us your story, and what inspired you to work in the field of female entrepreneurship?
I’m from Venezuela. I arrived in Spain in 2007, following a call for adventure and some real life! A year later, I met my husband, and together we launched a start-up called Envioadomicilio, which was the first food delivery online platform in Spain.
At the beginning it was ok, but as we moved one of the operational challenges of running a business, the fact that we were alone, introducing a new concept into the Spanish market, I began to struggle a lot with self-doubt. It was the first time we were running a startup, which was mostly run by me, as my husband did not speak any Spanish. I remember how I felt alone as a women entrepreneur. We didn’t have a good network because we both are not initially from Spain. We didn’t know the market, and on top of everything, we didn’t know anything about being entrepreneurs, pitching, or investment, and not knowing cost us many opportunities and money. In the end, we decided to sell our startup strategically, and in 2012 it was acquired by the second food delivery platform at that moment in Spain. Next, we launched two new start-ups, and only one is still online: Bandafy, an online music platform to help musicians promote and get bookings online. I had the opportunity to participate in the only competition for women entrepreneurs that I can think of in Spain, the Lean in EU Business Women Angel from where I met Marian for the first time, as she was the winner of the competition for Europe.
After the competition, I put my start-up phase on a pause and embarked on a reinvention journey where I was able to reconnect to myself finally, and my real purpose. I took the time to build in the tools I so much needed: I learned about web design, finished a Master, and overcame self-imposed barriers and false beliefs about myself. I was finally able to take my life as my best project and design the life I wanted to live.
From then on, I have decided to work harder on myself. What inspires me every day to work and collaborate with initiatives that genuinely support and encourage other women to take ownership of their dreams and to make them happen! We, as women, need to reinforce the belief that everything we dream we will achieve if we only take the first step to make it happen. It took me some time, but I finally got it, and now one of my purposes is to share my experience, skills, and learning to help other women take that step for themselves.
You have had your share of ups and downs on your entrepreneurial journey; you had to sell your first start-up. Setbacks offer us lessons and an opportunity to redefine our process. What advice would you give to women starting in the entrepreneurial world?
My advice would be to build a minimal viable product when you have an idea. Make sure you validate it; be confident that there’s a need for the product in the market. Often, when people have an idea, they want to create the perfect product. So I would say: don’t fall for perfection, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, surround yourself with a like-minded network and make sure that if you lose, you stand up again.
You went from working in the corporate world to creating a start-up (which brought its challenges) to, finally, becoming a pitching coach. Which role has been the most important to you?
I have to say, pitch coaching. Seeing people gaining the confidence to give a voice to their ideas gives me a feeling of fulfillment and purpose that even as a Pitch Coach, I have no words to describe! Building up my communication skills has opened up several opportunities. I am not only a certified pitch coach, but I have the chance to work closely with people that have been my entrepreneur heroes for so long. David Beckett, the creator of the Best3Minutes methodology, and Marian Spier, the founder of this beautiful and unique dream project, called FEM-START. So yes, definitely, my dearest role is being able to share the skills that help other women entrepreneurs, gain the confidence to give voice to their ideas.
Your journey is awe-inspiring. Is there a particular person who inspired you to get to where you are now? Could you share a story about that?
Thank you! I think we are all role models. I have a whole list of people who inspire me every day! To mention one story, I can say the first account I started following on Instagram when I first launch MOOI Webdesign: @hellofears. It is run by a woman who talks about fears and how she was brave to face one fear every day for 100 days as part of a master project that was inspiring for me, and I’m reading her book now! But as I say, the inspiration for me is everywhere!
How would you describe the female entrepreneurial ecosystem and start-up landscape in Spain? Have there been changes since you first started as an entrepreneur?
It has become more open and welcoming, as there are more initiatives created to support women. However, we still have many challenges to overcome. Over the years, I have seen an increase in spaces created by women for women, but I have yet to see a real stage that gives women visibility, specifically within male-dominated events. The number of female attendees at business, tech, and other networking events remains low compared to the number of male attendees. I believe we, as women, should take up space. Men are not taking up our space, we are just not showing up, and that’s what we need to work on!
What are the common challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Spain?
Specifically, for female entrepreneurs and start-ups, there are not enough female-only competitions. There are plenty of competitors, but the amount of female participants remains low. My opinion is that women think they are not prepared enough, and we overthink before going out there, this is something you often don’t see in men entrepreneurs.
And how would you define an entrepreneur?
I feel these days; we are often presented with a very limiting definition of an entrepreneur. For me, an entrepreneur is anyone courageous enough to own their future, define what they want, and make it happen.
What sectors or industries are most attractive to women entrepreneurs in Spain?
I think of technology. I have met many women working on unique tech-related projects here, but due to lack of visibility, they just tend to stay under the radar. Retail is also attractive, and recently the health sector is gaining space as well.
What is your vision for FEM-START Spain?
My vision for FEM-START Spain is to give female entrepreneurs a stage where they can gain the confidence to share their ideas. The impact they are making on society, their value to the market, and have access to capital to help make their business grow. FEM-START Spain will also provide female entrepreneurs with training, coaching, and the possibility to be part of an international, multicultural, and supporting network.
FEM-START is a dream come true for any female entrepreneurs out there!