BBVA’s ecosystem of innovation and fintech talent was key to the success of Lucas. This startup, which facilitates access to the purchase of a home, was able to find its main partners, develop a platform and launch its product on the market thanks to its access to BBVA Open Space’s network of contacts and advice. Now the startup is preparing for its first round of seed funding.
Entrepreneur Steven Aitkenhead already had an idea when he arrived at BBVA’s Open Space in Madrid for the first time in 2019. But it was there that he found the talent, resources and necessary experience to turn his idea into a viable project. The result was the startup Lucas, a digital platform to facilitate access to the purchase of a home by renting.
Thanks to the support he received from BBVA and fintech startups residing in this space, the entrepreneur managed to put together a team that was capable of carrying out the project, defining a viable product, developing a platform and putting his solution on the market. The company was named one of the most influential startups at the Money 20/20 fintech conference last year, and is now preparing for its first round of seed capital after receiving initial investments from friends and family.
“The most incredible part is that all of this occurred within BBVA’s ecosystem, where we discovered that we had indispensable help within reach to shape our company, thanks to the multitude of contacts, access to investors and advice from fintech experts to define our product, build our platform and put it on the market,” explains the entrepreneur.
The serendipity that created Lucas
This startup’s story is the story of a puzzle that was finally put together thanks to the pieces provided by the different people and startups that supported the founders in their journey. Steven arrived in Open Space in 2019 with the idea of collaborating with the startup Osigu, a resident in this space, in which his brother Bobby was an investor. However, once there, they both got in touch with the other startups in BBVA’s coworking space and found the inspiration and support they needed to finish shaping the idea for Lucas, which Steven had been working on since 2018.
This is how both brothers crossed paths with Alejandro Rodríguez, who was the investment director of Nekko Capital (also an Open Space resident) at the time. Rodríguez offered them support to develop the idea and his knowledge of the Spanish startup sector. Jorge Cáceres, an executive from the retail industry, completed the team as director of operations. The startup Micappital - a company that provides advice to investors which is also based in BBVA’s Open Space - also helped them hire their current technology director.
"Being able to access the entrepreneurial community present in the bank’s fintech ecosystem has been crucial. So was talking with other startup founders"
Once the team had been formed, the founders started to look for advice through BBVA’s fintech experts, who helped them to ground their hypotheses on which their business model was based. They also recommended the best way to find a business angel that could be interested in the project. In addition, the team consulted experts from the startup Lendmarket (also at Open Space), which has a platform for corporate loans, regarding how to collaborate with banks to put their solution on the market.
“BBVA has been key to the company’s growth on different levels, from the stage of coming up with the idea for the product to its definition and launch. Being able to access the entrepreneurial community present in the bank’s fintech ecosystem has been crucial. So was talking with other startup founders about technology and financing rounds, which allowed us to avoid making certain mistakes,” says Steven Aitkenhead.
La 'startup' Lucas ha ideado una plataforma que ayuda a adquirir una propiedad gracias al acceso a alquileres con opción a compra.
Every grain of sand counts
Other startups in BBVA’s ecosystem also collaborated in the launch of the first version of Lucas’ online platform, which helped them determine the demand for their product, analyze the potential market and start to publicize their brand. Specifically, they received assistance from the startup Jump into Tech, a digital development agency, to build their technological platform. They also received support from the crowdfunding company Flipsimply, which helps entrepreneurs obtain financing through auditing and risk analysis services. They helped Lucas’ team define the technology implementations that were needed to launch their product.
Meanwhile, the company Nekko Capital also offered them a useful guide to learn to navigate the ecosystem of Spanish startups. “All of these ingredients were fundamental for the launch of our first viable product on the market, and for the visibility we obtained, which allowed us to successfully hold our first financing round among friends, founders and family members,” Steven explains.
In addition to the different entrepreneurs that collaborated in its launch, Lucas also received help from venture capital and event planning companies. Thanks to the contacts provided by BBVA, Lucas’ management team was able to participate in several of the biggest events in the sector, such as Money20/20 in Amsterdam.
Now the company is preparing for the requirements necessary to launch its first round of seed capital, “something for which the support and lessons provided by the BBVA ecosystem continue to be fundamental,” Steven adds. “There is a great deal of talent concentrated around BBVA, both from startups and the bank’s innovation teams - people who work every day to make businesses of the future grow. Lucas is a perfect example of the benefits of this collaboration. We are here because they have allowed us to work with exceptional talent,” concludes the entrepreneur.
How does Lucas work?
Lucas’s goal is to help tenants between the ages of 25 and 40 acquire a home by offering them access to rental properties with an option to buy. Lucas purchases homes through a real estate fund, which uses the five percent deposits the renters agree to pay. Tenants will have the option to purchase the home after three years, at which point they receive support and advice from a network of experts connected to Lucas.
In 2020, Lucas’ team will continue collaborating with the bank through the BBVA Open Innovation Acceleration Program.