Angel investor Carlos Blanco seeks to fill the void left by the demise of MWC and 4YFN

David Murphy
Carlos Blanco

The 2020 Barcelona edition of MWC may be dead in the water, but moves are afoot among Barcelona’s startup community to stage an alternative event in its place.

In addition to the main MWC event at the Fira Gran Via, another, more startup-focused event, 4YFN (4 Years From Now), takes place at the same time in MWC’s old venue, Fira Montjuic. That has also been cancelled. But according to a report on Sifted, angel investor Carlos Blanco is planning a replacement event on the same dates.

He said in a tweet: “I think it's a historic moment for entrepreneurs, VCs, business schools, corporations and adm. We joined the public to create from February 24 to 26 a great startup event (with their parties) in Barcelona. Several have offered me cash and resources to do so.”

Blanco told Sifted there will be an event of similar magnitude to MWC happening between 24 - 26 February, with many of the city’s key players onboard, coordinated by the non-profit organisation, Barcelona Tech City.
He said he already has the support of Barcelona City Hall, IESE business school, CaixaBank, Banco Sabadell, venture capital funds, accelerators, incubators and hundreds of entrepreneurs.

“The event will be non-profit,” Blanco told Sifted. “We’re not exactly sure how it will work, but we would like everyone who had a stand at 4YFN to participate.”

Whether those companies who had paid to exhibit at MWC or 4YFN would have to pay again for a presence at Blanco's  event is not clear.

So while Blanco talks of event of similar magnitude to MWC, it seems more likely it would be closer to the much-smaller 4YFN, especially given the fact that he and his supporters only have 10 days to pull it together. Indeed, Blanco told Sifted: “We might need to hold the event in a more distributed way, using spaces from Pier01, Caixabank and Sabadell, Telefónica, IESE, Esade, Foment Treball, Círculo Empresarios. Everyone is supporting.”

This point was confirmed by Adriana Freitas, a partner at tech-focussed investment company Muster Ventures, who has helped compile a list of side events at MWC/4YFN for the past six years. She told Sifted: “People are trying to restructure the event. All the local side events organised by the startup ecosystem are confirming, [and] we’re still waiting for the events from the city authorities.”

How many companies due to take part in 4YFN, or MWC, who have since cancelled flights and accommodation, would have the will or the resources to book them up again, is a moot point. But whatever the eventual size and success of the event, the local startup community in Barcelona will at least be encouraged that someone is trying to make something happen to fill the void left by the cancellation of the two shows.