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Netmentora: the european business knowledge exchange

Netmentora: the european business knowledge exchange

Alejandro Martínez Borrell, member of the Netmentora Board of Directors

What does Netmentora do?

Netmentora, which is the largest intelligence and innovation exchange network in Europe, provides mentoring services to entrepreneurs and encourages the exchange of knowledge amongst business leaders. The network’s aim is to make an impact on people and territories by creating jobs and economic development, and it does this by connecting startups, SMEs, and multinationals. Created 35 years ago and active in 10 countries, it has worked with some 14,900 business leaders to help create more than 140,000 jobs, with some 78% of companies surviving into their fifth year.

The Netmentora network has three main focuses: It works with people; it is free, with professional, networked support offered to start-ups free of charge; and it promotes continuous learning, meaning start-ups, SMEs and corporations benefit from the experience of other people, companies, and sectors in a win-win process.

When was it founded and when did you start working in the group?

In 1986, the crisis in the yarn industry led André Mulliez to close Phildar, a company with 600 employees. As an entrepreneur, he understood that his task was to create jobs, not to destroy them. With a group of partners, friends and family, he decided to create Réseau EntreprendreTo create jobs, business leaders need help to consolidate their ideas and support in the challenge, so Netmentora (its name in non-French-speaking countries) was created to provide a business knowledge exchange that makes an impact on people, companies and territories.

Netmentora Catalunya was founded in 2012 by over 30 founder members.

What do you like most about your job?

The chance to help young entrepreneurs.

And what do you like least?

I wouldn't single out anything negative.

¿En qué crees que destaca tu entidad?

The values on which it is based.

What is your main challenge?

To create as many jobs as possible and help to fulfil the dreams of those who come to Netmentora.

Where is your company located? Do you know why this location was chosen?

It is located in Barcelona, because it has a long tradition of entrepreneurship. In addition, the city has a business fabric with a large number of SMEs.

Friends and acquaintances who were very motivated by the Réseau Entrependre project saw that Barcelona was an ideal place to found a Netmentora branch.

What do you like most about the neighborhood in which you work?

The neighbourhood is not the most important thing. The people who are part of Netmentora and the co-working in which we all work are the most important elements.

How important is Barcelona for your company?

It is a large, iconic city, with great potential, which means that it is a good fit for Netmentora. Results show that it has been a success. It is also a first step towards growing and replicating the model in other cities in Spain.

Which cities would you compare Barcelona to?

With Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Boston.... Each of them has its own appeal.

Which city should Barcelona model itself on?

Singapore, London, Paris, Stockholm.... All cities have different aspects that one can learn from.

What good practices in other cities would you like Barcelona to adopt?

Anything which encourages a culture of effort, creativity, and private initiative. The city should provide all kinds of facilities for entrepreneurship and encourage learning through failure. It should encourage a spirit of self-improvement and support those who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve. Benchmarks include the cities mentioned above, along with several cities in the USA and some in Israel.

How would you like to see Barcelona develop in the future?

I would like it to be competitive, interconnected, and benefit from excellent cultural and sporting facilities. It should foment scientific research and offer a high level of education, while being open to the world. It should provide strong support for all those who want to undertake a project by eliminating administrative obstacles, encouraging new talent, and providing tax advantages. It should also be a city in which English is spoken fluently. Finally, I would like it to continue to be a welcoming city and an attractive place to live in. In short, a city that is excited and enthusiastic about its future.

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