Susana de la Puente is a well-regarded investment banker with a notable history on Wall Street during the 1990s and 2000s. Boasting strong connections with Spain and Latin America, her current focus lies in attracting and nurturing European investments for burgeoning startups.
Her illustrious career spans 25 years at J.P. Morgan in New York, culminating in her role as Vice President for Latin America. She has also held influential positions including Director of Telefónica Peru, Advisory Committee member for the President of the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Director of the Peruvian Institute of Business Administration (IPAE), and Director of Pro Mujer-Peru.
Over the past five years, Susana de la Puente Wiese has divided her time between London and Madrid, dedicating her efforts to identifying, funding, and steering projects in the “new economy,” with a specific emphasis on technology-driven ventures.
How would you characterize the startup environment in Europe?
Vibrant and robust. Innovation transcends boundaries, and while historical costs of technology implementation in Spain were formidable, today’s accessibility to technology has lightened the load, fostering the emergence of novel business models. Spain has witnessed an explosive surge in startup activity and technological initiatives in recent times. Multiple venture capital funds and tech-driven companies have adeptly secured funding, with a growing number of unicorn companies (valued at over a billion dollars) now residing in the nation. Furthermore, Spain boasts a reservoir of exceptionally talented young innovators, equipped with strong academic foundations and experience in more advanced markets.
Notably, these assets have defied expectations this year, displaying impressive resilience in valuations despite the prevailing globally uncertain economic climate. In several instances, valuations persistently exceed those of 2020 and 2021.
Susana, Are they on par with the United States in terms of influence and potency?
The North American market enjoys greater scale and maturity, yet there are other equally dynamic markets such as Israel, India, China, the United Kingdom, and now Spain too. Capital is readily accessible for supporting substantial and promising ventures. Enterprises must devise and execute ambitious strategies for expansion and global reach, actively seeking venture capital. The gap between Europe and the United States in terms of funding volume and frequency continues to narrow. Capital is readily available worldwide to fuel robust and sizable projects.
In your view, what are the pivotal factors in preventing a startup from faltering?
An impassioned, cohesive, and skilled team encompassing diverse management facets of each enterprise. This team must be deeply motivated, innovative, and capable of surmounting hurdles, challenging conventions, and transcending biases. A prevalent cause of startup mortality revolves around the struggle to secure funding. To surmount this challenge, entrepreneurs must establish a transparent and credible strategy, not just for their business objectives, but also for securing capital across various stages of growth.
Is there an insufficiency of investors in Europe?
Certainly not. However, it appears imperative to enhance communication channels between investors and startups, enabling startups to effectively articulate why investors should rally behind their ventures.
Beyond the United States model, do you find appeal in models from other nations like Israel, South Korea, or China?
I hold the belief that a singular model does not exist. Different countries facilitate investment and streamline bureaucracy, thereby facilitating smoother company establishment. England stands as a notable example.
And is there a death of entrepreneurial spirit in Spain?
Absolutely not. Spain boasts a history of pioneers and adventurers, who spared no effort and embraced risk in their quest for prosperity across distant shores. The entrepreneurial spirit is deeply ingrained within the Spanish populace.
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