If anyone knows about using ingenuity and invention to solve little problems, it’s Ignacio Moreno Pubul, aka Guli, one of the co-founders of Capchase, a start-up funding platform for founders that closed a $125 million Series A funding round in June 2021.
That's only part of the story. Guli had no prior formal experience as an entrepreneur or in venture capitalism and was classically trained as an aerospace engineer. He moved from a short stint in aircraft to become a developer, then product manager. Building Capchase was part ingenuity, part timing, and a total leap of faith. But the foundation for Guli’s success as an entrepreneur was always present from his childhood, lying just beneath the surface.
“Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be an inventor. It was about finding problems that I hadn’t solved. When I was little, I invented this thing with my younger brother. We slept in bunk beds so [at night] we always had this fight about who would get up to turn off the light. I dis-assembled a radio-controlled car and used the controller to make a switch that would turn off the light from my bed.”
Guli’s unique upbringing accelerated his problem-solving prowess and introduced him to new ideas, cultures, and communities, expanding his view of what was possible. Before the age of 18, Guli’s family moved around to different parts of Spain and he even spent some time in the U.S. His father, Juan, is a Colonel in the Spanish Navy. His family, which includes his mother, Natalia, and his two brothers, Luis and Álvaro, lived in Ferrol, San Fernando, Madrid, and Marlton, New Jersey. Moving and living in four different cities helped Guli adapt quickly to his environment. That skill, coupled with his lifelong passion for building things, helped shape his future.
Turning his Passion Into a Career
When his family was getting ready to relocate to Brussels, Belgium, Guli stayed in Madrid to pursue his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. After graduating in the top 10% of his class, Guli took his first job. As an intern at Airbus Group in Getafe, Spain, he worked in the main hangar on the company’s state-of-the-art transport aircraft. It was a rich experience with a leading actor in the industry, but Guli soon felt at odds with the slow pace that often comes with large organizations.
“I love aerospace but I didn’t love the aerospace industry. My short stint at Airbus was fun and the company makes really good aircraft, but the industry felt slow. It seemed tough to innovate and move fast because of the regulations.”
While relatively short, Guli’s experience at Airbus Group triggered him to pursue other avenues and he was attracted to start-ups, which were just beginning to take off in Spain. He took a job with Geoblink, a software as a solution (SaaS)-based location management platform for the retail industry, as a summer data science intern in July 2016. The company had just received funding and had a staff of about 15 people. There, Guli met two of the other three founders of Capchase, Miguel Fernández and Luis Basagoiti and made a decision that changed his trajectory: attending the part-time web development bootcamp at Ironhack Madrid.
“I used to do a lot of extra-curricular stuff related to entrepreneurship even when I was working. It was always a path. As an intern and software engineer, I was really interested in inventing and I wanted to build something. I wanted to learn to build web applications because it was super clear to me that web-based services were going to be extremely important if I ever wanted to put a product out there. Software development was the closest thing you could get to being an inventor. It was different than back in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when you needed to be a mechanical and electrical engineer to build something physical."
The journey to become a web developer
Guli learned of a scholarship for Ironhack with Spanish sneaker-maker Pompeii. Guli applied for the scholarship at Ironhack Madrid and won, using the three months of intense learning around web development.
“I saw Ironhack as an opportunity to gain freedom, where I could do my own side projects. It was complementary to what I was learning at my job. The bootcamp at Ironhack Madrid helped me move faster to being independent and able to build stuff.”
Ironhack also gave Guli something beyond web development skills. “I learned to learn about software engineering at Ironhack. It gave me the tools to grow on my own in this space and be able to build products and solve problems. I learned independence to code my own solutions. After Ironhack, I understood how things worked.”
Ironhack gave Guli new skills and critical learning that rounded out his abilities, but that wasn’t all. Just as valuable, he also became part of a tight-knit community.
“The Ironhack community is great. I met a lot of cool people in Spain. At Capchase, we’ve hired Ironhackers (the informal name given to anyone who has graduated from the Ironhack program). Everybody helps each other. You can easily reach out via social media. I’ve had conversations with aspiring entrepreneurs who just wanted to share ideas.”
Life After the Web Development Bootcamp
Guli’s time with Ironhack gave him the platform to catapult his career track at Geoblink. After becoming a software engineer, he went on to be a product manager at the intersection of business, tech and design. After three years, Guli applied to the University of California, Berkeley, where he planned to get a MBA. But then the pandemic hit, pausing his plans. He met with Luis and Miguel, his buddies from his Geoblink days, and he was introduced to Przemek Gotfryd, an expert in venture capital and private equity funds. The group started to talk seriously about their future plans. Their discussions turned into brainstorms for a new company. It was at one of these meetings that Capchase was born.
“We started to share ideas around problems we had suffered being [software as a service] SaaS operators. One of the biggest things any SaaS company has to do is fundraise to keep a healthy cash balance, but traditional VC equity rounds can be expensive. We saw a big opportunity to help companies grow and finance themselves through their future revenues. We studied the idea of future cash flow that’s predictable. You can understand where you can grow and when. Today, we look at what start-ups are going to earn over a year and give money to the founders today to use. Capchase takes a fee.”
According to an article in Techcrunch, the model appears to be working. Since launching, Capchase has issued more than $390 million in financing to more than 400 companies and expects to grow by 400 percent over the next six months.
“The cool thing about start-ups is that you build from scratch and change how things work in a certain industry. You can have a lot of impact from the get-go. If you join the right company at the right stage, you can have responsibility that might take years to get otherwise.”
A cool thing, indeed. Capchase may be an example of a perfect storm. It was incorporated one year ago and the founders, who has left their jobs or were planning to leave their jobs to start MBA programs, started to build immediately.
“We used a small proof of concept and raised $5 million in summer 2020. We dropped our dreams of Harvard and Berkeley and started selling the idea in September 2020. We were able to scale quickly. Since then, the space has grown a lot. The pandemic was a tailwind because SaaS started growing.”
The young inventor has made his childhood dream come true, harnessing the right industry, with a strong team and quick execution. Guli and his founding partners at Capchase are now helping other entrepreneurs worldwide realize their dreams. It’s a true testament to what Guli has always loved, solving little problems inside a big day.