In less than three years Adtuo has gone from a mere desire to help people to a fully-fledged startup on the brink of going international. Born in 2017 from the hearts and minds of Miguel Angel Ivars Mas, María José Ivars and Victor Arenas, this Madrid-based company now aids Spanish SMEs with all their Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and other social advertising needs. Thanks to AI software, results that once took weeks, even months, to gather and calculate can now be analysed in real-time. Adtuo essentially does the job of a pricey ads specialist at a fraction of the cost, saving SMEs up to 90%. So what led them to dream up and implement this canny idea? We sat down with co-founder and CEO Miguel to find out.
1. Why did you decide to start your company with Demium?
I already had experience with a previous startup, but there were things I hadn’t done so well and I thought someone like Demium could help me. I’m from Valencia, so I’ve known about Demium since it was born. I saw what founder Jorge Dobón was doing and everything they achieved and how well they did it. So when I was ready for my second startup I thought I could do better if I worked with an organisation like Demium.
2. How would you define your experience at the AllStartup Weekend?
The truth is it was very good. I’ve attended other similar events, but they weren’t organised by an accelerator. I loved the Demium ASW because it’s challenging, motivating, you’re under pressure with new people, and it’s energising. We were unique in the fact we went to the ASW with an idea and partners already in mind, so Demium put us to the test and in the end we convinced them.
3. What is it about your co-founders that made you want to form a startup with them?
Well, María is my sister and we’ve worked together for a long time. She came from the world of insurance, but she’s always worked with me on projects since I started in 2006. Victor I have worked with before, and then took him the AllStartup event. He worked in product design and as a consultant and had set up a startup before. I couldn’t think of a better person to help me do what I wanted to do. In the end you choose to work with people with whom you see yourself capable of achieving anything.
4. How does it feel to be a CEO?
Some say that a leader shouldn’t strive to be one and I agree. At least, I’ve never sought to be one, but I’ve always had a way of thinking or doing things that isn’t the same as everyone else. Being a CEO carries a lot of responsibility: it’s not easy, but it’s very rewarding. You get to dream up an idea and see it accomplished. That feeling is priceless.
5. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
We didn’t simply develop a SaaS, it’s a software that also requires attention to customer service. So in a sense it’s two startups in one. The challenge we face is to be able to combine the two sides of the startup and still hit the right target.
6. And biggest success?
What pleases me the most is that we’re helping SMEs that are either just starting or haven’t yet begun. Some don’t even have a Facebook page! We are the solution that, through advertising, helps them grow and move from one phase to the next, from nothing at the start to web traffic and sales six months later. I see it happen and it’s like magic. When I realise that what we do is helping people and generating something good, that is the biggest success.
7. Have you had to pivot your product since incubation?
Very much so. From how we manage campaigns, to adding software… Our pivots have all been down to how we provide our service and how it can be scalable. Every six months we had a different model, which was a bit complicated, but we’re always open to change and improvement, even now.
8. How does the future look for Adtuo?
This year the aim is to continue to grow our numbers in Spain, but also expand globally. The national market is validated, we know how things are done, so now we want to adapt our knowledge to the international market.
9. What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
It’s not easy. That’s not to discourage, but not everyone is made to run a company. I’ve been trying since I was 16 and, while I have worked for others, I’ve always wanted to build something of my own. If I hadn’t wanted to do that so much, I wouldn’t have made it. You can probably compare it to elite athletes – they have so much passion for what they do that not being an athlete just isn’t an option. All you need is that passion; everything else you can learn.
10. Describe your Demium experience in one word…
Gratitude. For what I have achieved and what Demium has done for us. I would also say ease and accompaniment, because Demium is there with whatever you need. We’ve gone through other accelerators and it’s a very different style. Working with Demium feels like having a partner or a dad who’s always there, waiting and encouraging you to reach your goals.