Privasee and Social Piper: these are the stories of the winning companies of the Startup category in the Santander X Global Challenge I Helping Businesses Prosper.
On 7 July we announced the four winners of Santander X Global Challenge I Helping Businesses Prosper, a contest for startups and scaleups that provide solutions to aid SMEs’ digital transition and efficiency. This Banco Santander initiative with Santander X, our global entrepreneurship network, highlights an already pressing issue that has intensified with the COVID-19 crisis, forcing small and medium-sized enterprises to go digital and find new markets.
Of the nearly 700 submissions the challenge received, only 20 reached the final phase and just four took the big prize: 20,000 euros and expert mentoring from the Oxentia Foundation global network. The winners will also increase their visibility on Santander's social media and channels and, most importantly, earn an award that will propel them to the next level of their journey as entrepreneurs.
Santander X Global Challenge I Helping Businesses Prosper had two contestant categories:
Several weeks after the final round, the winners told us what this victory meant to them.
The story of one winner, Privasee, is about how Manuel Martínez Chamorro, a Spanish engineer living in London, partnered with Alex Franch to found a company that would help people stay in touch digitally but without selling their data like on a regular social network, thus making the Internet safer and more transparent. According to Manuel, the data privacy market is dominated by expensive consultants and lawyers whom SMEs could not afford to pay; but because of new data protection legislation, SMEs now need to automate and become self-sufficient. "We’ve always believed in giving data ownership back to people, and it was hard for us to see that the market was not ready for a B2C data vault, and that companies had to make the first move," he said about the company’s beginnings. The greatest challenge — and reward — of entrepreneurship for the computer engineer is personal and emotional: coping with stress and imposter syndrome, and reprogramming your brain not to get frustrated with mistakes and failures but rather see them as a chance to improve.
"Interest is growing in the market because of recent privacy scandals and consumers’ realization that privacy is important. Therefore, we believe data privacy is now a must for any company, just as cybersecurity was six or seven years ago," Manuel affirms. Therefore, Privasee felt they had a good chance of winning one of the Santander X Global Challenge prizes, and they did. Over the next 12 months, Banco Santander will help the company press ahead with its plan to support 100 customers in the UK and EU, grow its team and expand its work beyond General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance, thus enabling SMEs to get to grips with regulations and audits on a single platform.
The other winner, Social Piper, started out nine years ago with just a few customers. Since then, it has grown to become the largest independent marketing agency in Mexico, with more than 200 employees. At its peak, it was receiving an average of fifteen calls a week from small businesses but did not have the budget to handle such volume.
Co-founder Daniela Meymar says the idea came about during lunch with fellow co-founder Federico Isuanise. They discussed the need to digitalize the processes they had been perfecting for eight years. "We started to draw what the platform would look like on a paper tablecloth". They conducted market research and prototyping, which showed the idea had merit and small business owners could use it as an alternative to social media agencies and consultants. "That’s how the idea of creating a tool to empower SMEs came about. It's everything they need from an agency, only more accessible and easier to use," says Federico.
According to Daniela, "Medical specialists who want to promote their services, treatments and other procedures are a good example. One of them contacts us almost weekly from Catalonia to tell us how happy he is with Social Piper. He attends all the Social Piper Academy seminars and has launched his four social media profiles according to our platform’s recommendations. In one month, his bookings have risen 25% thanks to his social media content. A pizzeria in Palo Alto, California, now spends just 20 minutes a week planning social media posts and has increased its turnover by 12,000 dollars a week in online orders.
For Social Piper, "Initiatives like this global challenge offer entrepreneurs the chance to get our companies reviewed, which gives us the visibility and drive we need to rise to the challenges that growth brings. Without them, startups are left to their own beliefs and knowledge, and great ideas end up never seeing the light of day. In our case, Santander X Global Challenge I Helping Businesses Prosper was crucial to gaining exposure to today's major innovation partners like MasterCard."
Banco Santander’s commitment to SMEs: fresh support for prosperity
With 4 million SME customers, Banco Santander was named the Best Bank in the World for SMEs 2020 for the third time in five years at Euromoney magazine's Excellence in Leadership awards. The bank's objective for 2021 is to continue helping SMEs prosper on the back of its global scale.