Joining forces and ideas is how three longtime friends have managed to create a clever sea rescue, life saving device that’s ready to take the aquatic sector by storm. Proteus Innovation stands for groundbreaking solutions, tested and validated by a number of prominent experts in the field. Julio Ferrando, Jorge Pradas and Miguel Angel Sánchez have worked hard during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus to materialize an idea they hope will save lives.
All about Proteus Innovation
Q: Tell us a little bit about your co-founders and teammates
(Miguel Ángel) Jorge and I met at the university, we were both in the same course, pursuing a degree in Industrial Design Engineering.
I have experience working with plastic molding, architecture projects and video games. Plastic molding is the technology we used to set up Nàutic
Julio used to own two e-commerce companies. He studied Electrical Engineering but never actually worked as an engineer, he loves being an entrepreneur instead.
Jorge’s work experience is mainly graphic design internships in companies.
The team is constantly growing and we are surrounding ourselves with great people and professionals. Alba Crespo, our Communications Manager, is a pro in content creation and journalism. She adds so much value to Proteus Innovation and we love working with her hand-to-hand.
Q: Give us your elevator pitch
(Jorge) Proteus Innovation is a company whose mission is to digitize the aquatic sector and for this, we are developing our first product. Nàutic is an unmanned boat for sea rescue and life saving (lifeguard). It works with a radio control, so that the device can be sent to the victim. The victim can grab it and get to a safe area.
Our idea has already been validated. We started the project in January this year, so we have contacts in different private companies in the sector and with public organizations like Salvamento Marítimo, Cruz Roja or Capitanía Marítima. All of them have given us very positive feedback on Nàutic and as a result they have forwarded their letters of recommendation and made clear their purchase intention.
Right now we are in the pre-seed investment round, looking to raise € 100K. We are going to invest this money mainly in product development, in order to have a final product. During the pandemic we had made a prototype, which is functional, but it’s not ready for sale yet.
The idea would be to start mass manufacturing by January 2021, which is also the deadline we’ve set for ourselves to start commercializing our product.
The journey to the first investment round
Q: Tell us about your journey to first investment – how long has it taken and what were the key milestones that led to your investment round
(Jorge) After validating the product with all the clients, we saw that the project really made sense. You could say that it has been one thing after another. The process is quite common in the startup world. We spent 4 months validating, talking to people and having meetings through calls and video calls due to the pandemic. When we saw that the product was validated, we started with the prototype and once we had it finished, it all went faster.
Right after that, we got a call from Expansión newspaper; they wanted to publish an article about us.
That was a threshold moment for us. People actually got to learn more about Proteus Innovation.
(Julio) We developed the web and so far we have been having a presence in more media. For example, we were able to test Nàutic in Benissa (Spain) thanks to a contact who owns a maritime salvage company. The news was covered by the Levante newspaper.
In early September we realized that this has been a real momentum for Proteus Innovation, so we set up our company and right after we opened our first investment round.
Despite the fact that everything seems to have happened very fast, building the MVP is what took us the longest. Jorge and I live in Valencia but Miguel Ángel is from Albacete. He has a workshop there which was the only physical place available for us to build the MVP.
The outbreak of the pandemic made that impossible so Miguel Angel was the only one working there; Julio and I tried to help him out as much as we could.
We traveled to Albacete whenever possible and spent a couple of days there, joining forces and ideas with him!
Q: What do you look for in investors?
(Miguel Ángel) We seek commitment. We want smart money, it goes beyond investing money.
We would like you to provide us with contacts that are involved in carrying out Proteus Innovation. We want investors to share their contacts with us, becoming 100% involved in our project.
(Jorge) We understand that at the end of the day, we are asking for money to develop a product.
It is more of a long-term investment, you cannot expect to get a return in 2 months.
We are interested in that people who enter as investors make the decision because they are interested in the project and trust it. We want our investors to trust us above all and to be genuinely interested in the project.
(Julio) Ideally, once the investor is in, they know how things work and they get involved.
The contacts they’ll share, is a plus.
Q: What do you find investors value most about your startup?
(Miguel Ángel) Validation.
(Jorge) Very few people have thought about a product like the one we created. They may have been sceptical at first but they came to understand and value it, once we presented it and suggested our solution.
The point is no other Spain-based company has created something similar. There have been solutions presented in other countries but they lack technical aspects and have not been validated yet.
(Julio) When you offer such an innovative product, showing that the sector already wants it because it has confirmed it, the investor values it. From our point of view, both this and the letters of recommendation and the visibility we have had in the press have been key.
(Miguel Ángel) There is also another interesting point: design itself. Our product is aesthetically more appealing than any other in the market. We want to differentiate ourselves from the competition with a very solid, modern, powerful, contemporary, vibrant brand image.
Competitors offer rather traditional solutions. Their approach covers one product only usually aimed at sea rescue.
We, on the other hand, bring in diversification. The essence of any startup is to rock the boat impregnating the market with innovative solutions. And that’s exactly what Proteus Innovation is all about.
Demium and Proteus Innovation
Q: Can you describe what Demium has done for (or helped) you?
(Julio) To plant the seeds. At the end of the day, although the idea was ours, if Jaime had not guided us and helped us so much, we probably would not have gone for it.
(Miguel Ángel) Without Demium the idea itself would have never materialized to the extent it did.
(Jorge) Although the three of us already knew each other well, if we didn’t get to be here, this project wouldn’t have occurred to us and we would have started other projects we already had in mind, which were not as good.
(Miguel Ángel) Knowing you’re supported and endorsed by Demium, people who will stand by you and help you see your project through; also, at Demium, office routine is nothing like what we were used to. Working together with other entrepreneurs and sharing ideas in a fresh, modern, vibrant working atmosphere. What else can we ask for?
(Julio) You never know, but I think that if we had been doing this project without Demium, if something had gone wrong we would have given up or we would have stopped. With Demium this would have never happened.
(Jorge) Demium has supported us a lot from the very beginning and we’ve had the chance to meet people who had already set up their business successfully.