With his suitcase packed and just a few hours away from embarking for Miami, Eloi Gómez (Santiago de Compostela, 1992), Founder and CEO of Jeff, shared with Startup Valencia the company’s roadmap for 2022 and its synergies with the Valencian tech ecosystem, of which it is one of the key players in terms of volume of employees and investment, and to which it actively contributes as a Global Partner of the organisation.

 

Taking advantage of the fact that you are coming from one end of the world (the Middle East) just to fly to the other (the United States) and that visiting, doing business and settling down in other hubs is part of your job, how does Valencia fare in comparison to other ecosystems?

“I would say that we are a region with great potential. It’s true that there isn’t a consolidated network of scaleups that have reached figures of around 100 employees or more than €10 million in ARR (annual recurring revenue), but it has a lot of talent, boosted by the ‘drag effect’ of local accelerators and the relatively low cost of entrepreneurship. It definitely has a very promising future, partly due to the fact that it possesses key aspects that can’t be bought, such as quality of life, warm climate, good balance between work and leisure, etc. If we add to this the battle for talent and the sudden shift towards remote work, we have a unique opportunity to position ourselves as one of the ecosystems people want to be a part of”.

 

And this is coming from a Galician! If you look back to the moment when Jeff decided to set up its headquarters in Valencia, would you consider it a success?

“100%. None of Jeff’s founders are Valencian, but we saw very clearly the city’s potential and we were also motivated by the fact that the ecosystem was in its early days, because that allowed us to position ourselves in it and become well-known. For a company and a team with an international vision such as ours, Valencia is an incredible pole of attraction for talent because everyone likes living here”.

 

The decision you made back in the day to bet on Valencia is no longer so strange if we take into account that more and more companies are deciding to open headquarters here, in addition to those that are born in the city itself. Are you not worried that greater competition might lead to greater talent flight?

“On the contrary. The more powerful companies there are in a city, the better. It means there will be more people gaining experience. The challenge is to make the leap to having companies that have ARRs of up to €1 million, then up to €5 million, then €10 million, €100 million, and so on and so forth. To do this you need a mixture of local talent and senior talent with experience in scaling companies, which we aim to attract as an entrepreneurial region offering a good quality of life.”

 

And how do we achieve this?

“The city and its companies need to use more English, it has to be the official language of the ecosystem and its companies. I acknowledge that this is something we haven’t even achieved yet at Jeff, despite many efforts, but we desperately need to do so in order to attract international talent and for this talent to not feel excluded. Other aspects don’t depend so much on us as an ecosystem, such as infrastructure or air connections, but the issue of English most definitely does. On the other hand, we need more large exits, which are the ones that benefit not only the founders but also the C-Level executives and the company’s first employees, turning them into micro angels that go on to support other startups in the consolidation phase or to set up new projects”.

 

Let’s talk about Jeff, what are your expectations for 2022?

“It’s a year we’re really looking forward to. We believe we have the opportunity to help redesign post-Covid cities. At Jeff we’re committed to providing services from the physical premises, at the moment in the laundry, beauty, fitness, coworking and soon cafeteria verticals. We maintain a focus on services because the experience requires physical contact, while the purchase of goods has moved to online channels. In addition, the pandemic has impacted us all on a personal level and we believe that many people have realised what they really want to do, hence our mission to democratise entrepreneurship by making it easy for anyone to start a physical business with as little capital and specific knowledge as possible”.

 

Valencia is the European Capital of Smart Tourism for 2022. How would you describe this post-Covid city?

“Convenient and friendly. Convenient in terms of logistics and delivery; friendly as a synonym for human. Many daily activities and purchases will make the switch to delivery, but what we want to do in person will need plenty of personal contact because that is what defines us as a society”.

 

Nationally, the numbers of investment rounds and exits are better than ever. There is also progress on a specific law for startups. Is now the best time for entrepreneurship?

“Many of the unicorns we see now are companies founded 10 years ago or more. Resilience is an entrepreneur’s best virtue. However, we should not limit entrepreneurship to the Internet, competing online is tremendously difficult. Very similar tools are used, the cost of starting up is very low, it is very difficult to differentiate yourself in non-recurring products, etc. We see greater opportunity in offline entrepreneurship, evidently supported by technology when it comes to facilitating the booking of the service or its tracking, in which the service is consumed in a physical place”.

 

If we apply this idea about the physical point of sale to Jeff’s model, where the premises are managed by entrepreneurs who are allied with the brand but are external to the company, how do you ensure a uniform quality of service?

“The entrepreneur will always be the most concerned about getting it right because it’s his business. Jeff is there to help, we don’t aim for all franchises to be the same. We set guidelines for what we know is a service that works, but we are attentive to their suggestions because they know more about the local identity and can propose improvements.”

 

Jeff’s first service was laundromats. From there, how did you decide which areas to work in?

“We’re interested in day-to-day services without a clear leader, with fragmented markets and where technology can be a support for growth. If it meets these requirements and we see that Jeff can help the entrepreneur attract and retain users, then we go ahead.

 

You mentioned that Jeff is planning to launch café-related services in the near future. Where do you find the energy to keep expanding into different sectors and lead an ever-growing company?

“Our mission excites me. We democratise entrepreneurship, we want anyone who wants to open their own business to be able to do so and for them not to be limited by economic or knowledge barriers. We combine this with a vision in which the consumer wants everything easy, now and in one place. It’s hard to find more motivating challenges; for me it’s pure rocket fuel.

 

How do you value the work of Startup Valencia and the impact of having an international technology event like Valencia Digital Summit?

“Startup Valencia’s work in the last 5 years has been as good as it has been necessary, bringing together the needs of startups, investors, and public and private organisations. Listening to all parties to find common solutions for the ecosystem is what makes the Valencian Community truly position itself as what it is becoming: a true hub of innovation and attraction of technological talent. Valencia Digital Summit is proof that the Valencian entrepreneurial ecosystem has enormous potential to grow as it has done in recent years. Tech events such as this one demonstrate Valencia’s ability to bring world-class people in their fields and create those much-needed relationships with our ecosystem. It’s like planting seeds, which we will be harvesting to benefit all of us in the near future”.

 

About Jeff 

Founded in 2015 under the name Mr Jeff, Jeff is a Valencian startup with an international presence that has managed, through a franchise model, to become the first omnichannel ecosystem of everyday services. Jeff offers entrepreneurs its own “Business in a box” system, with comprehensive solutions and unique technology to help establish their businesses under the expertise of the brand. At the same time, thanks to its “The Good Good Life” philosophy, end users can pay for laundry and dry cleaning services, use fitness and coworking spaces, and even order coffee according to their convenience and needs all through a single application, the Jeff App.

 

 

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