Spain has recently approved its Startups Law, so now is certainly a good time to start thinking of businesses that could work in the country. Here are nine niche and uncomplicated ideas that have found success overseas but are still fairly novel in Spain.
Spain’s new Startups Law is expected to come into force in December or early 2023, with enticing perks and reduced tax rates for foreign digital nomads, entrepreneurs, investors and remote workers who want to start a business or work in Spain.
Here are nine business ideas that haven’t yet been overused in Spain and could turn into successful and profitable companies.
Bars for gamers
Spain’s gaming industry made €1.8 billion in profits in 2021, with e-gaming channels now part of TV packages and long queues often forming for the release of new videogames.
But as of yet, there aren’t many bars specifically for gamers in Spain who love to play either video games or board games. That’s in a country with the highest rate of bars per capita in the world and where meeting in a public place is the common societal norm.
Meltdown for example is a French bar chain dedicated to video games and eSports which has been doing well. In Spain, Elite Gaming is the main e-gaming bar franchise, but there is definitely room in the market to create something similar in big and medium-sized Spanish cities.
Supermarkets that sell unpackaged food
There is a growing but still small number of health food shops in Spain that sell loose food items (alimentos sin envases), which reflects that it’s on trend and there’s more social consciousness among shoppers regarding food and plastic waste. Even the Spanish government is making moves to cut down on food waste, including forcing restaurants to offer doggy bags.
Each person in Spain produces about 600 kilos of waste per year and recycling only manages a tiny fraction of that.
Currently, there isn’t a supermarket chain in Spain focusing on selling unpackaged food and recycling food and packaging.
Original Unverpackt is a successful supermarket in Berlin already doing this, with its zero-waste concept. There are also several of these shops in New York and other cities across the US that have done the same.
A plant kindergarten
Think about it, you have nurseries and babysitters to look after your kids and pet boarding services for your animals, but who looks after your plants when you go away?
Keeping house plants has become a hot trend in recent years and particularly popular among people in Spain’s big cities, most of whom don’t own a garden, so can only keep plants inside or on their balconies. As Spain gets so hot over the summer and people are often away in August for the whole month, there’s definitely a need for a company that can water and look after your plants.
Florists and garden centres in Spain often say that their clients are looking for these types of services.
Online beard stores
Fifty-five percent of Spanish men have beards. While there are a few specialised beard grooming places in the big cities like Madrid and Barcelona, there have yet to be many products for facial hair here, or even online beard stores when men can get all their needs.
Think beard oils, brushes, dyes, conditioners and washes. Places such as The Beard Shed, Beard and Bones and the Brighton Beard Company from the UK are all doing particularly well, but there is definitely room in the market for Spanish-based brands too.
A coffee and breakfast delivery service for businesses
Breakfast or more importantly merienda, Spain’s mid-afternoon snack, is a very popular concept in Spain. After a couple of hours of work in the morning, it’s common to head off to a local café for a café con leche and croissant or magdalena. Most offices don’t invest in good coffee machines, so often people have to leave the office to get what they want.
Although there are huge food delivery services in Spain such as Glovo and Just Eats, none specialise in coffee and breakfast snacks for workers.
In the US breakfast and coffee delivery services have become increasingly popular. It’s a cost-effective idea as you don’t need a physical establishment either, you could simply order and collect coffees from different places around the city, such as what GOffee does in New York.
Stag and hen do companies
Stag and hen dos are popular in Spain, but they often involve something simple such as dressing up and going out to a local bar or club. In countries such as the UK, these have become much more elaborate affairs from activities such as cocktail-making classes and spa days to go-karting and even weekends away.
La Pollería, a company selling waffles in the shape of penises or vaginas has become popular in big cities such as Barcelona and Bilbao for stag and hen dos, but there’s scope for a lot more in Spain, including companies that can create themed evenings and help organise activities.
A place where you can rent products
Have you ever had that problem where you need something, but only temporarily and you don’t want to fork out big bucks to buy it?
Perhaps you need a drill, but you don’t want to have to buy one and then have it sitting in your house doing nothing. Or maybe you want a steam cleaner to use a few times a year, but again don’t want to buy something you’ll be using so little. A shop where you can rent products instead of buying them hasn’t really taken off in Spain yet, but it could be a great idea and do well here.
One such Spanish company doing this is Grover, where you can rent tech items such as cameras, headphones or smartwatches, but there is still a lot of potential for other companies to branch into different products.
READ ALSO: Buying a franchise in Spain – the cheapest and best businesses to set up
Many people only want to go to the gym occasionally and don’t have the time or the motivation to go three or four times per week, even though they’re paying high amounts for the service every month.
This concept puts many people off joining a gym and many worry about the waste of money. What about a gym that you can simply pay for when use it, instead of having to spend high amounts on a subscription?
Hussel, a company in the UK, has done just that and it’s an idea that’s taking off and one that there’s definitely room for in Spain’s €765-million gym industry.
Back in 2015, The Financial Times already reported how pay-as-you-go gyms were increasing in popularity over longer contracts, and that some new businesses were acting as middlemen, linking users with a range of smaller gyms and studios.
Spaniards love to eat out when they get the chance, but what about those who have a busy day at work and don’t have time for a menú del día at lunchtime or are too tired to cook once they arrive home?
Restaurant subscription companies became popular during the pandemic when people couldn’t eat out, but still wanted someone to cook for them.
They have remained popular as the concept is not the same as getting a takeaway, they tend to be more like home-cooked meals you can order on a weekly basis and put in your Tupperware for work.
One such company doing well in the restaurant subscription business is Wetaca in Madrid, where chefs cook healthy meals that can be delivered straight to your home or workplace. They have 20,000 monthly subscribers and make €14 million a year.
Restaurant subscriptions may not be a completely novel concept in Spain, but as an article from Spanish business publication Invertia pointed out in November 2022, the industry is growing as 43 percent of Spaniards eat readymade meals from the supermarket, but more are now looking for healthier alternatives.
READ ALSO: Which startups succeed in Spain (and which ones fail)?
There could be changes on the way for Spain’s redundancy pay system. But if you are sacked in Spain, how much are you entitled to, and can you claim extra compensation?
It’s something nobody wants, but if you’re let go from your job in Spain, you’ll need to know about two things: redundancy payments (el finiquito) which everyone is entitled to, and possible compensation payments (indemnización por despido) that depend on a variety of factors such as seniority, salary and the reason why the work relationship ended.
In Spain, el finiquito refers to the financial settlement an employee receives when their contract is finalised.
This redundancy pay, often accompanied by an official dismissal letter stating the end of a worker’s contract, is a lump sum of money that a company must pay to an employee.
El finiquito is always paid when you lose your job, but how much you are paid depends on various factors, including how much salary you have outstanding, how many days you’ve worked that month, and any unused holiday days you have accrued.
El finiquito can include compensation payment, which depends on whether the employee was fired and the type of dismissal. Companies can carry out three types of dismissals: objetivo (the worker has no blame), disciplinario (the worker is at fault) and colectivo (objective dismissal of a significant number of workers). But if the employee doesn’t agree with the reasons for being fired by their employer, they can raise the matter with a judge to determine whether their dismissal was justified (procedente) or wrongful (improcedente).
In Spain, redundancy pay is proportional to the time worked in the current month – as in the month you have been sacked, so far. That is to say, if you are sacked the number of days you’ve worked in the month until that day is included in the redundancy settlement.
Let’s look at an example.
Say you’re an employee in Spain who earns €1,300 a month. For whatever reason, you are laid off. Once you get over the shock, you should begin to calculate – how many days have I worked this month?
Say it was 17 – you had worked 17 days in the month you were fired. Well, your redundancy payment would work like this:
€1,300 / 30 days a month = €43.33 per day
Your daily salary would then be multiplied by the days worked in that month: €43.33 x 17 = €736.61.
That would mean you’re entitled to €736.61 of redundancy payment.
As many of you may know, in Spain employees generally receive fourteen payments a year. They get the twelve monthly payments, but also two extra payments known as pagas extraordinarias (literally meaning, extraordinary payments).
These are basically like bonuses, and usually come in the summer and winter period at a time negotiated between employers and employees, according to Article 31 of Spain’s Workers’ Statue Law.
To continue with our example from above, if you’re sacked on the 17th of November you’d have already received your summer bonus but not the Christmas one. In that case, it would be factored into your redundancy payment.
Let say your pago extraordinario was a bonus worth €1,500. If we divide €1,500 by 365 days = approximately €4.11 extra pay per day. Subsequently, at this amount, €4.11 must be multiplied by the days worked in the entire year – if you were sacked on the 17th of November, that’d be 317 – which would give you a nice Christmas bonus payment of €1,302.87 added to your redundancy payment package.
If you have accrued holiday days but haven’t taken advantage of them before you’re sacked, you are entitled to have any outstanding holiday days owed to you paid into your redundancy package.
The calculation is proportional, and you must first calculate how many vacation days correspond to you for each month worked. Continuing our example from above (sacked on November 17th), to know how many holiday days you are entitled to you should calculate holiday days for the days worked per year so far, and divide the result by 365:
(30 x 317) / 365 = 26 days.
Say you’ve taken advantage of 15 of your annual holiday leave. That would mean you are entitled to 11 days of unused holiday accrued. At your daily rate of €43.33, 11 x €43.33 = €476.63 in unused holiday days to be added to your redundancy payment.
Compensation pay (Indemnización por despido)
Though the vast majority of contract workers are entitled to redundancy pay, you may also qualify for compensation payment, known in Spain as indemnización por despido.
However, unlike a redundancy payment that is uniform and everyone receives, for compensation there are some other key factors that determine if and how much you could be entitled to.
Annual salary – including overtime payments, commissions, bonuses and other supplements, the average year of overtime, productivity pay and other bonuses such a car or house owned by the employer. Tax allowances, cash tips and social security contributions are exempt from calculations.
Seniority – The number of months and years you’ve worked for the company. Generally speaking, if you’re fired without being at fault you’re entitled to 20 days of wages for every year you worked for the company, with the lump sum limit set at 12 monthly wage payments. For wrongful dismissals, this amount can be 33 days for every year worked (a lump sum limit of 24 monthly payments) and for job contracts signed before 2012 it is 45 days of wages for every year worked (a maximum of 42 monthly wages).
Type of contract termination – was it voluntary redundancy? Non-voluntary? Were you sacked for inappropriate behaviour? When a sacking is considered just or appropriate, there is no right to compensation, but you will still receive the redundancy payment. How exactly you were sacked can determine your compensation claim as only workers with despidos objetivos and improcedentes have the right to claim this type of compensation.
So for example, an employee who has worked for two years and three months for a company and has an annual gross salary of €14,000 is sacked and a labour court finds it was a wrongful dismissal. They were hired after 2012 so 33 days of wages correspond for every year worked (max 24 monthly payments).
The calculation would be:
33 days x 2 years = 66 days
3 extra months = (33 x 3)/12 = 8.25 days
66 + 8.25 = 75 days of compensation pay
€14,000 gross annual salary/365 = €38.3 daily wages
€38.3 daily wages x 75 days of compensation = €2,887.5 of compensation pay for unfair dismissal
An ongoing claim at the European level by one of Spain’s biggest trade unions, the UGT, could force some changes to the Spanish compensation and severance payment systems in the near future. The European Committee on Social Rights, the body processing the UGT claim on dismissal pay settlements, has stated that the claim has a ‘high probability’ of winning because Spanish legislation could be found to contravene Article 24 of the European Social Charter.
If successful, the UGT’s claim could force changes to the law that would result in a more personalised system of redundancy payments intended to benefit workers on an individual level, but some experts warn that it risks increasing inequality in the workplace and employment market. Bernardo Pérez-Navas, partner of Laboral de Garrigues, explained to Spanish newspaper El Mundo that “The current compensation calculation system is based on the application of an objective scale through two criteria linked to the employment relationship: salary and seniority. This provides unquestionable legal certainty and frees the worker from having to prove the damages suffered, their quantification and the causal relationship. In addition, it guarantees the equality of all workers.”
Some employment experts believe that if the UGT’s claim is successful and compensation payments are made more personalised, it would create a legal maze for claimants and result in more uncertainty and even possible litigation between employers and employees because the onus would be on the employee to prove their rights and any damages suffered. “It cannot be directly concluded that such a change will necessarily be beneficial for workers,” Pérez-Navas said.
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