València’s first unicorn founder wants to build a global hub for impact tech


Iker Marcaide is among Spain’s a lot of energetic business owners. Because stepping far from Flywire, the very first Spanish start-up to go public on the Nasdaq, Marcaide has actually focused his attention on effect investing, producing brand-new start-ups with his business Zubi Group, constructing a school, and creating an eco-neighbourhood.

In 2021, Forbes called him as one of Spain’s 100 Most Creative organization individuals.

Iker Marcaide Flywire
Iker Marcaide. Credit: Zubi Group

Marcaide fulfills us in a 60- hectare plot of land dotted with trees on the borders of the city of València on a warm, cold January early morning. This is La Pinada, the website where he will develop a sustainable area (” barrio” in Spanish) making up houses, schools, co-works, and neighborhood areas.

Today, wood cabins on the website are filled with individuals dealing with Zubi Group start-up tasks. Throughout a wood bridge through the trees, the Imagine Montessori school that Marcaide opened in 2016 shows up.

Imagine Montessori school
The Imagine Montessori school. Credit: Zubi Group

As a consultant to TNW’s very first conference in València, Marcaide will be discussing effect investing at our occasion in March. In the meantime, we’re here to speak to him about establishing the foreign-currency payment platform Flywire, why he left the business, and his aspirations for Zubi Group.

Born of disappointment

Marcaide developed the concept for Flywire (then called peerTransfer) in 2009 whilst studying for his Master’s degrees in Business Administration (MBA) and Engineering at MIT. He states he didn’t consider himself as a business owner at that time, nor did he originate from an entrepreneurial background, however he wished to develop business that “in some method resonated with me and my requirements, things I experienced first-hand.”

Back then, he was experiencing the tension and cost of getting scholarship cash moved to him at MIT from a Spanish structure.

” I believed, ‘This is unreasonable, since individuals that have the least buying power are really paying all these banking costs … What if we develop an option to the banking wires in such a way that is more expense efficient, more reputable, and more reasonable?'”

Marcaide chose that while they would require sales and service advancement groups on the ground in various markets, it would be clever to combine functions worldwide, and selected València as the primary workplace for things like administration, tech, and item advancement.

The business is headquartered in Boston, and has actually because become a leader in cross-border tuition payment transfers for universities. It has actually likewise branched into travel, health care, and other company sectors. Flywire went public in 2021 at a $3.5 billion appraisal

So what led Marcaide to go back as CEO of Flywire in 2013, when things were actually skyrocketing?

” It was a huge choice, however a great deal of things lined up at that time,” he states. “I understood that you can just be CEO of one business, and presuming you wish to be participated in fixing various issues, being CEO of one business would not be a choice.”

” When I produce business, I constantly believe that besides being your child, it needs to have a life of its own,” he includes. “As a creator, not ending up being a traffic jam is type of your primary function.”

The Zubi journey

The business owner was currently considering endeavor structure and how he wished to concentrate on business that, beyond being excellent monetary chances, might likewise play a social or ecological function.

His very first huge job was endeavor home builder Zubi Labs in 2014, which develops from scratch tech business that concentrate on social or ecological effect. 2 years later on, he established the personal Imagine Montessori school, on the very same land that will house La Pinada eco-neighbourhood.

Barrio La Pinada
Impression of Barrio La pinada. Credit: Zubi Group

In 2017, the principle and prepare for La Pinada started, followed by the development of an open development centre for sustainability, called La Pinada Lab, in 2020.

In 2021, Marcaide released Zubi Capital to purchase external business as the very first effect fund focused on endeavor financial obligation in Europe All these business and service systems belong to Zubi Group, which numbers over 200 individuals.

València’s effect capacity

Having been born in Boston, raised in Granada, and resided in Madrid, London and the United States, Marcaide appropriately sees himself as an international resident. Now his dream is that València will end up being a hotspot for effect and sustainability.

” You can begin something remarkable from throughout the world, however you need to be really linked. For me, hanging around globally, then remaining in València as part of a worldwide business, opened my eyes in regards to what it indicates to be internationally linked,” he states. “It’s simply a concern of plugging in and getting in touch with similar individuals, of whom there are numerous.”

He thinks that while València can’t possibly end up being the most significant tech center on the planet, it might end up being the most articulated, linked and practical one– a minimum of, that is what he wants to see occur.

” When I was pertaining to València in 2010 and fulfilling the environment, I type of did not have that sense of worldwide connection and worldwide aspiration– I believe that has actually altered entirely,” he states.

Field of dreams

Marcaide states he would enjoy to begin on Barrio la Pinada tomorrow, however is waiting for structure licenses from the Valèncian authorities. At the minute, there’s no scheduled date of when the business owner’s creation would open its doors.

La Pinada has actually been created as a self-contained carbon-neutral neighborhood. By seeking advice from individuals about how they would like their lives to look, the Zubi group understood that everybody desired things to be easier in regards to how they live, work, get kids from school, and so on.

Barrio La Pinada
Impression of Barrio La Pinada. Credit: Zubi Group

” Cities are not arranged that method, generally you live someplace, you work someplace various, the school is elsewhere, and you invest half of your day walking around– a great deal of social and ecological problems are exactly originated from that,” Marcaide discusses.

The Pinada task has actually produced chances for brand-new start-ups that might support this dream, ones operating in locations like energy, waste, and the circular economy. As real estate, the objective is to have schools, co-working areas, living areas, and a broad neighborhood mix of young and older individuals, specialists, households, and songs.

” At Zubi Group, I believe we’re at that hockey stick point, when you begin putting the pieces together and providing worth much quicker,” Marcaide states. “We’ve been putting in a great deal of the structures and the group, so Zubi in 10 years will be much more worldwide, a various order of magnitude to where we are today.”

If you wish to experience València’s environment on your own and listen to Iker Marcaide speaking on phase, we’ve got something unique for our faithful readers. Utilize the discount code TNWVAL30 and get a 30% discount rate on your conference organization pass for TNW València.

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