Spanish startup Declarando empowers freelancers to take control of their finances
How three founders from Castellón are empowering freelancers through Spain
Making the decision to work for yourself as a freelancer or solo entrepreneur should be an empowering and positive step. Yet, for many freelancers, there are often bureaucratic roadblocks that cost them precious time and money. In Spain, most freelancers have little money to pay an accountant, but they lose up to 4,000 euro a year from filing incorrect accounts. After working with freelancers for 20 years as a lawyer, Marta Zaragozá saw how accountancy and tax consultancy can be a needlessly complicated and expensive service. So in 2015, Marta collaborated with Juanjo Traver and Vicente Solsona to create Declarando – a service that uses machine learning to provide access to affordable tax advice online and on demand. Declarando uses a client’s business data (such as sales, expenses and yearly tax return) and analyzes it to make a series of personal suggestions, just as a tax adviser would, for a fraction of the cost to the user. “We understood that there was a massive opportunity to disrupt the sector using technology,” said Vicente. “We realized that we needed to build software that can bring the best tax service to everyone.”
The team began their idea from their home city of Castellón de la Plana, Spain. The city is better known for its beaches than its tech start ups, but the team was inspired by the nascent tech scene of neighbouring city Valencia, and driven to help empower the freelance community that Marta had worked with for so long. After establishing their business, the team wanted to lay the groundwork to make their idea scalable, creating a larger customer base and expanding into new territories. They turned to the Residency program at Google For Startups Campus Madrid to get the support they needed. “We come from a very little town and moving to Madrid to be part of Residency was like being selected for the Major Leagues,” said Vicente. “We got the opportunity to learn from companies that had already made it, grow with startups in our same stage and who had similar problems, and make the most of all the possibilities that Google for Startups had to offer.”
“We come from a very little town and moving to Madrid to be part of Residency was like being selected for the Major Leagues”
The team was already using Google Ads as the primary way to reach freelancers who needed Declarando most. During Residency, they learned how to optimize Google Ads using Smart Bidding, and as a result they were able to reach people who were newly freelance due to COVID-19 - their customer base doubled in 2020.
The Valencia team didn’t just use their time at Campus Madrid to hone their product expertise, they also worked with Google mentors and other founders to develop soft business skills, learning about leadership, teams and growth. “By the end of the program we’d acquired new knowledge on scaling a business while preserving a strong culture,” said Vicente. “We had six months to understand our business motivations, define our ambitions and acquire the tool kit to make it all happen.” Fresh out of their Google For Startups Residency, the team celebrated a successful round of seed investment worth 500,000 euros. The team has also nearly doubled in staff from 29 to 55 employees and have since raised nearly 2.7 million euros total (roughly $3.2 million USD). Vicente adds that, “since the summer of 2020, we've been increasing our revenue by 10% every month. The pandemic has accelerated digitalisation. Many of our clients would have never considered using online tax consultancy services before”.
Most importantly, Declarando left the experience feeling like they were members of the ‘ultimate community’. “There was tons of fun and friendship,” said Vicente. “When you leave it feels like finishing summer camp.”