Sergi Espada; ‘If you really believe in what you want and why you do what you do, the odds against you won’t stop you’
Co-founder of Drivin discusses how Drivin came about and going from an idea to a highly-sophisticated, functioning platform.
Barcelona is the most dynamic European startup hub that exists right now; if you didn’t know, you now do. I got a chance to sit down with one of the newest, most hopeful and rapidly moving startups in Barcelona; Drivin. Co-founded by Sergi Espada and Alvaro Muhlethaler, Drivin is a platform that connects learner drivers with driving schools and instructors. Drivin allows learners to filter schools and instructors by location, price and ratings and with a simple click of a button people are on their way to getting their driving licence; without hassle and without problems! I was lucky enough to catch Sergi on a rare lunch break at the place where Drivin all began, OneCoWork.
Can you set the scene; what were you doing before this and how did you get to the point that you were starting one of Barcelona’s most highly anticipated startups?
Up until we started Drivin I worked in sales. I first worked doing sales for a startup, I then left and worked for two bigger companies in their sales department and then directly before Drivin I was working in sales for a second startup. Then came Drivin. I guess the lesson to be learnt from my story is that anyone can start a company. It’s not like I’ve been creating companies from age 18; I was an employee who decided to create something that fulfilled me.
If you had to say the thing you have done most right so far, what would it be?
If I have to choose one thing I believe I’ve done right it would be that I haven’t given up in the face of any challenge; there are lots of reasons not to create a startup-they are likely to fail! But I believed, and still believe, it could and can be done. Sometimes people say ‘don’t be a dreamer this is real life, it never happens, it’s better to find a job and get a monthly salary’ but if you really believe in what you want and why you do what you do, the odds against you won’t stop you. This is what I’ve done right; be clear about what I want to do and why I want to do it and not given up to achieve it.
If you had to say the thing you have done most wrong so far, what would it be?
It would probably be listening to other people too much. Although people’s opinions are useful more often than not, sometimes they make me doubt what I am doing. I think there is so much risk with startups that its normal for people to be hesitant but hesitancy gets you nowhere!
I know from experience that often that first step is the hardest. For someone considering creating a startup, what do you think should be their very first move?
I really recommend they talk to as many people as they can about their project. Thanks to talking about Drivin I managed to find the right people to move forward with the project. If I kept my ideas to myself Drivin wouldn’t exist right now. So my advice is to talk about your idea with anyone that will listen!
Between a good idea and persistence, which would you say was the most important during the beginning stages of a startup?
I have no doubts on that one; persistence. Persistence is key. I’ll explain why: persistence gets you to the good idea! When you start a project, the initial idea can change at least three times before the project goes live. This happens because you learn what people really want and what they really need and a good idea is simply providing a solution to those needs. In order to do this, you have to adapt your idea and through adaptation you are left with THE idea.
Which 3 words would you choose to describe your experience so far since starting with Drivin?
Team, Hard, Fun.
Can you elaborate a bit more on ‘hard’? What exactly have you found hard throughout the process so far?
I think there are two things that come to mind right away. The first is remembering to do everything! I am doing so many things all at once that it becomes a challenge just remembering to do them all. The second is having to be so in tune with the needs and opinions of my team. In fact, understanding their needs is crucial to the success of Drivin. There are so many things that need to be done with urgency in any one day that sometimes they conflict and so I often need to step back to see everyone’s perspective. I think putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a challenge for everyone throughout life and it is something I need to continue learning every day.
Last question; do you ever have days in which you wake up and think ‘what the hell am i doing?! I can’t do this’?
Absolutely. To not feel that would be somewhat not human! I think the only thing to do when that thought creeps in (which is a lot for most people, no matter how confident they appear) is to remind yourself that you absolutely can. I believe it serves as a defence mechanism; to stop us doing something incase we fail. My response to that voice? “Shut up!”
Drivin’ is zooming forward into its very bright looking future. Once established and thriving in Barcelona, Sergi, Alvaro and their growing team plan to expand into the rest of Spain, taking on the capital, Madrid, next. Sergi believes Drivin is unlimited in places it can go; ‘where there are people needing to learn to drive, we will go.’ He tells us they have some plans in the pipeline which he can’t yet speak about because nothing has been finalised but when they are, we will definitely hear about them.
What is the advice to take away?
Sergi’s answers shed light on what it really takes to found a startup. Here is a quick round up of the advice to be taken away from Sergi’s insights:
-Don’t feel limited by your background; anyone can create a successful startup with the right motivation.
-Kindly disregard the advice of others not to do what you are doing. The risk is part of why you are doing it.
-Talk to as many people as you can about your idea. Doing this will help your idea develop and improve and it is likely to help you find the perfect people to work on the project with you.
-Persistence is more important than a good idea. Persistence will get you to the good idea.
-Creating a startup is hard. Don’t underestimate that but don’t let it stop you.
-We all have self-doubt; give it no attention.