Project Description

Sergio Llorens Rubio

CEO, Gigigo Group

With a law and business degree in his pocket, Sergio started his career in consulting. In 2005, he realized his dream and founded his own company Gigigo. Read about his opinion on failure and success and how he manages his 120-employee business group today. 

  • Why did you study at ESCP?

I finished my law degree in Valencia and during my last year I was also working in a big law firm. I came to realize that I didn’t only want to solve problems but to make problems.

I met someone who was going on a recruitment fair in Madrid, so I came over with him. I met many different schools and decided to join ESCP and follow the Oxford-Madrid-Paris track. It gave me the opportunity to gather with people of different backgrounds. Most of them have lived in other countries and hadn’t studied law.

“The key point is to find the right partner”
  • What internships have you done?

In the first year it was already clear to me that I wanted to start a business of my own – it was the beginning of my entrepreneurial ambitions.

My first internship was in Human Resources at 3Com in London. Then, I interned at Andersson Consulting in business planning and IT. Finally, I also did portfolio management at UBS. Among others, my task was to follow Asia-Pacific companies, one of them being NTT Docomo, the top mobile operator in Japan. This company had just launched a new concept of mobile Internet called i-mode, which became very important later on for the founding of my own company.

After I tried out a few things and worked in different countries I realized I wanted to do something in IT. Not the technical part but the business part.


  • What was your first job after graduation?

Right after graduation, I worked in a consultancy – thank god – because the Internet bubble was happening. I joined Arthur D. Little who created an IT spinoff that was eventually bought by Solving.

We worked with mobile operators in business planning to reimagine their business model for the next 15 years. It was much more related to brainstorming than an actual planning because of the speculation involved.

So I started to dig where the typical business model of mobile internet and mobile content was. And that was at a time when phone (not smartphone!) penetration was at 25/30 %. There were already a few companies in Sweden, Germany, Japan and South Korea that were creating and shaping of what was going to be the future in Europe in terms of mobile content. It was a good source to learn from.

“Today I say: ‘You’re not ready to found a company until it happens.’ “
  • What was your next station?

After 2 years in consulting, I was offered a position at a startup in Spain called MyAlert. I was previously engaged with them because we valued the company for one of our client’s M&A activities. Since I had only 2-3 years work experience I didn’t feel ready to create my own company yet. So I just moved to the sector for a start.

At MyAlert I started to grow my network. I met a lot of mobile operators and digital companies. One thing you need to know: Unless you are Mark Zuckerberg or another unicorn in the valley, a network of contacts is crucial for when you start a company.

During my time at MyAlert I was cooking inside to found my own company. But something always kept me off. Today I say: “You’re not ready to found a company until it happens.”


  • In 2005, you founded your own company Gigigo, which you still run today. How did the founding take place?

Before all this happened my wife had to move to Paris for a consulting job. So I got in touch with Vivendi Universal, they hired me and we stayed two years in Paris.

Gigigo was actually cooked in my last year at Vivendi. We focused our field of expertise on a very niche technology: i-mode. Remember the link to my internship at UBS.

Though i-mode was getting somewhat popular in Europe the big media companies didn’t want to create mobile content for such a niche technology. Only a few, very crazy start-ups like us were willing to do it.

“Sometimes the idea is going to pivot, sometimes the idea is going to be hidden”
  • What is Gigigo like today, 10 years after the founding? And how did you get there?

Today, Gigigo is a group of several companies with 120 employees. What we do is very different to what we started off with. We still have certain streams of revenue from our former business models. But if you look at our financial statement, you’ll see that 80-90 % of revenue comes from totally new activities not older than two or three years.

We’ve pivoted the company like three or four times. Also, we spinned off successful activities and sold a couple of companies. Things have changed a lot since the beginning.

We have an open door for new ideas every day and have a tremendous track of successful projects. But almost a similar track of failed projects: We created companies in Turkey, Russia, in the Philippines and South Korea, which all failed. We’ve learnt a lot from our non-successful projects. Successful stories are easily told. But the interesting part is the failed projects.


  • Can you give an example of what you’ve learnt from your mistakes?

For example, the first thing I tell people nowadays is to get legal advise on a country. We didn’t really do this in the Philippines, Turkey or Russia and it caused us many trouble.

There are many mistakes you do that don’t appear in your LinkedIn profile but I’m very proud to talk about it. It’s what makes you an experienced entrepreneur. Here in Spain, we tend to hide mistakes. But that’s the wrong approach.

As I see it today, most of the unsuccessful projects are actually successful stories because we stopped loosing money.

“I’m the one trying to think what Gigigo is going to be in the next couple of years”
  • What is your job on a day-to-day basis?

My job changed for the past few years. Today, we’re 120 people in 3 different locations: Madrid, Mexcio and Sao Paolo. The way I explain my job to my mum is that I’m the one trying to think what Gigigo is going to be in the next couple of years.

Our industry is very changing. We can more or less predict what is going to happen in the next 12 months (with a level of faith). But what happens in the second year is difficult to predict. We try to imagine two or three things every year. One of them usually happens to become a business line or product we can monetize. The rest is just wasted money on paper. But we have to do it in order to adapt to the changes in the digital environment.

The second thing I do is either personal or corporate investments. We try to find start-ups that complement our services or start-ups that we can enable to grow with our own technology.


  • How is life in Madrid from a business and a personal perspective?

I spent most of the last 15 years living in Madrid and it’s been great. But as I told you, we opened companies in many different countries: South Korea, Philippines, Turkey, Russia, Brazil, Mexico; our clients are in London, Italy, and France. I don’t have the urge to move abroad since I already live part-time abroad. According to my wife this is bad, according to me this is good.

In terms of business, Madrid is also great. Spain is not the best country to found a company, that’s a fact, but the good thing about Spain is the high level of human resources. We have a bunch of highly talented engineers comparable to the ones in Silicon Valley. At the same time it’s much more cost-efficient here. On top, it’s a good bridge if you want to do business from Europe to Latin America.

I met many people throughout the years who told me: “If you’d created this company in Silicon Valley, you would have already 1000 employees.” But you know, this is the country I was born in. I don’t have any problems with possible drawbacks from having started in Spain.


  • Thanks for sharing your story.