Interview conducted by Stephanie Hagen, Head of Conferences & Content, Autonomy
Jérome Grondin is the Supply Tribe Director at Kapten and is leading the opening of its tech hub in Barcelona.
Why has Kapten decided to develop a Tech Hub?
Kapten is expanding its service in Europe. We have opened in a few other major European cities in recent months including Lisbon, London, and Porto. The company is growing really fast, so we decided that opening a Tech Hub would help us reach this next level and attract the best talent from all around the world. This is just another way we are working to create one of the best tech teams in Europe.
Why have you chosen Barcelona as the location for your Tech Hub?
Barcelona is becoming one of the biggest tech cities in Europe and has always remained attractive due to the cost of living, the sun, and its way of life. There has been recently a trend of very talented people moving to Barcelona, so it appears clearly that as a tech company, we should be there. It feels very natural for us.
What does this city offer that other “tech-heavy” European cities, such as Berlin or Dublin, do not?
While Berlin or Dublin are more established, Barcelona is a rising tech city. This means there is more space to create new communities and meet-ups as a lot of companies have opened their own tech hubs in Barcelona in the past 2 years. This creates a wave of dynamism you’re searching for when you create something new. Don’t forget the most known emblem of the city: the Sagrada Familia. This is probably one of the most amazing projects that anyone working in tech could dream of. It fits very well our idea of building something new.
What will the work culture and work environment be like in the Barcelona Hub?
Kapten’s Tech DNA will be the same in Barcelona. We want to build the best product for our riders and drivers. We help developers to reach this goal by providing mentoring sessions, weekly internal meet-ups, assisting in external conferences, peer-to-peer programming, technical guilds, as well as our weekly architecture meeting, where anyone can propose subjects to improve our efficiency. Each squad is responsible for their own perimeter, meaning they create, build, and run their own code at scale with the tools we have built internally. So the work culture and environment in Barcelona will definitely retain the same principles: try, learn, improve and iterate.
Will it be a different vibe from the work culture in more “traditional” offices?
We’ll come to Barcelona with our strong values: #bebold, #takecare, and #feelfree – but we definitely don’t want to duplicate or replicate the Paris tech team. The Barcelona Hub is building its own history and its own tech community, of course by sharing the same practices and with the same quality of excellence as Paris. This is one of Kapten’s strengths: we want to be local, not global.
What have been some challenges you have faced in finding international talent in the past and will a Tech Hub ease up this process?
The most challenging part in finding international talent is explaining your company’s business and culture. For example, some South American candidates have never been to Europe, so not only should they understand the job and the business, but you also need to explain what it looks like to relocate and live in Europe. In this example, the Barcelona Tech Hub helps a lot because the Spanish way of life is quite similar to that of many places in South America.
Is there a possibility that Kapten would be open to collaboration with other companies by hosting them in the tech hub?
This is actually already the case – we’re in the same office as FreeNow (also part of the Daimler group). The FreeNow team helped us a lot when we started the hub because they have 2 years of experience running a remote tech hub in Europe.
We see how important collaboration is in tech today. Does Kapten have any plans to open up the hub to potential complementary startups?
We’re at the very beginning of the Barcelona Tech Hub adventure. Everything needs to be crafted from scratch. This is very challenging, but also extremely exciting. Of course we’ll share a lot of practices and culture with FreeNow, but we also want to be involved in the local tech community, take part in local meet-ups, and meet the next generation of Kapteners.
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