Before the pandemic, Marfeel was one of the fastest growing startups in Barcelona, but the health crisis halted its expansion plans.
Born in 2011, the company worked to increase visits and advertising revenue from the media, an activity that was greatly affected because companies stopped advertising on the Internet. “We couldn't do anything against it. Due to the economic situation, it was impossible to increase the advertising revenue of clients. In addition, our activity depended to a large extent on Google's positioning criteria”, comments Juan Margenat, co-founder of the business together with Xavier Beumala.
Due to the crisis, Marfeel was forced to gradually reduce the size of the workforce until in the spring of 2021 it applied an ERE that affected around thirty people. As a result of this process, the company went from employing 158 people in 2020 to about 60 people this year.
The pandemic, says Margenat, also forced the company to rethink its activity. “We couldn't depend on our traditional business so we decided to diversify. We have launched a content analysis platform that operates with artificial intelligence algorithms. You can monitor the data and improve the performance of the content that circulates on the Internet”, says Margenat, who ensures that his traditional business continues to operate.
With this bet, the startup hopes to recover pre-pandemic revenue. Although Margenat does not want to give forecasts, he assures that the turnover is slightly below the 25 million it obtained in 2019. According to data from the Mercantile Registry, revenue was 19.5 million euros in 2020 and 13 million in the 2021.
During these troubled years, the company has maintained its international presence. Two thirds of its activity is carried out outside of Spain, in countries such as France, Italy, Mexico or Argentina. "We work for all kinds of media, from general to specialized," says the founder of the company, which has a subsidiary in Colombia.
Despite the economic turbulence, the company ensures that it has a positive ebitda (gross profit) and that, for this very reason, it rules out a future capital increase. The owners of the company are the same founders –Juan Margenat and Xavier Beumala– and the investment funds Nauta Capital, Elaia and Inversiones Kiliman, which in the beginning contributed 3.5 million to the company