For many of us, new technologies are so ubiquitous that we take for granted the impact they have had on all of our lives. In many ways, tech has been a great leveler; democratizing access to information and opportunity, but it has also caused a tremendous disparity. We all interface with technology to varying extents, but some are disproportionately more adept at using it, or have greater access to it, than others.
With the increasing prevalence of IoT devices, understanding the applications of technology is now vitally important, more so than ever before. However, given constant technological iterations and upgrades, tech illiteracy has become a major disadvantage. This article will provide a snapshot of the growing global tech support sector, studying one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies in the space, and why they decided to set up shop in Barcelona.
Bringing tech support into the hearts and homes of people
TechBuddy was founded in Stockholm in 2016 by Tahero Nori with the aim of making technology accessible for everyone by tackling the $1T economic problem of unsatisfied customers and increasing e-waste. These days, tech goes beyond the remit of personal computers and tablets. Approximately 22 billion IoT devices are currently in use worldwide, and an estimated 50 billion will be by 2030. If your aging parents are struggling to navigate their Smart TV, imagine their frustration when they are unable to use their IoT-connected refrigerator properly. As tech’s influence widens and everyday appliances become digitized, TechBuddy sees widespread education to be of paramount importance.
The firm’s digital platform provides consumers with on-demand access to well-trained technicians, offering on-site tech support in homes and offices. Customers can access the support of a technician either through the website www.techbuddy.es or through one of the company’s partners.
The company also has its own SaaS tool, Buddy.Inc, which is aimed at companies that want to leverage an out-of-the-box solution for managing field services at scale. This platform acts as a central dashboard for managing service personnel and enables companies to track service requests and allocate their own personnel and resources to tackle problems faced by their customers.
Since its inception, TechBuddy’s growth trajectory has been startling. It launched in Spain in the summer of 2018, and in Israel a year later. Last year, the company also expanded into Germany. In total, TechBuddy has already helped over 120,000 end consumers.
The TechBuddy customer journey is simple. The consumer selects a TechBuddy service to match their needs on the website. A registered ‘buddy’ will then accept the request, based on their proximity to the client and their skillset, and arrive at the client’s location to perform the service. The process of recruiting skilled technicians is similarly uncomplicated. All ‘TechBuddies’ go through a rigorous vetting and testing process to ensure that their customers receive the best possible service.
- Applicants will sit a test that is designed to assess their core competencies and technical skills.
- Applicants then undergo a detailed background check. Only applicants with a clean record will be considered.
- Applicants with the highest test scores will then be invited to an interview.
- If successful, the applicant will undergo an onboarding process and will initially complete tasks under the supervision of a more experienced buddy.
- The applicant will eventually become a fully qualified ‘buddy’.
Barcelona as a global launchpad for a fast-growing tech firm
When asked about TechBuddy’s entry into the Spanish market, Sina Balzhäuser – Global Head of Marketing, commented on the plentiful supply of young tech talent in Spain. The country has “a lot of skilled young people, who are keen to take on flexible work and boost their incomes”. She notes that there is a significant “digital divide” in many societies, and Spain being no exception, with certain demographics proving to be slow adopters of new technologies. In addition to being a viable target market for consumers, the Marketing expert also believes Spain, and Barcelona in particular, provides a credible offering of tech talent to meet this demand.
TechBuddy has proven to be a sustainable response to the gig economy. Sina Balzhäuser explains:” We do things differently to many other companies – we pay our gig workers not just by the hour, but we hire them for every task. This means we pay taxes and social security for them every time they work on a task for us. Since we pay for their social fees, they are eligible for the same compensation programs from the government as full-time employees, adapted to the hours they have worked.”
Being a ‘buddy’ is a great side hustle, especially for freelancers or students. In Barcelona, there is an abundance of both, as the city’s leading universities attract droves of ambitious, tech-savvy students. When asked about why TechBuddy has opted for Barcelona as its Spanish base, their Head of Marketing cites the city’s dynamic startup ecosystem and the prevalence of international talent as driving factors. By some estimates, the Catalan capital is home to 1300 startups, with Data Analytics, E-Commerce, and SaaS businesses being especially prevalent. Opportunities for digital professionals have not dried up during the pandemic, with over 6,700 new tech jobs being advertised in Barcelona in March, April, and May 2020 alone.
Furthermore, there is a strong appetite for Public-Private Partnerships and the maturity of Catalan R&D activity. Catalonia leads in European R&D jobs and investment. Similarly, Spain is one of several European countries to have seen increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) since the UK’s 2016 Brexit vote. Barcelona has been one of the main beneficiaries of these increased capital inflows, with well-established players such as Amazon setting up innovation centers there in recent years. The city serves as a powerful talent pool for the global giant due to the strength of AI and Machine Learning research that has been conducted there.
At the time of writing, TechBuddy employs 15 people in Spain. Based in OneCoWork’s Plaça Catalunya workspace, the Barcelona team is responsible for overseeing operations in the Spanish market and supporting key business units, such as finance, marketing, and data analytics. Sina Balzhäuser also expressed Barcelona’s importance from a business development perspective, and that TechBuddy clearly recognizes Barcelona’s potential as a launchpad for its global expansion.
With tech adoption showing no signs of slowing, understanding its uses and unlocking its potential is critically important. TechBuddy understands this and is aware of the challenges this poses to so many people, who may not be as technologically adept. While the tech industry becomes more advanced and products have greater functionality, and therefore become more complicated, this exciting startup is giving it a human face. Here at Barcinno, we are watching TechBuddy’s rise with enthusiasm and can’t wait to see what they do next.