Do you know how many companies have been created in a garage? Thousands. Some as big and innovative as Facebook, Google, Apple, Ebay, Harley Davidson or Nike emerged in a garage in a small residential neighborhood. It seems that garages have something special to inspire entrepreneurs. In Spain, in 1997, one of those companies that change the world was born, ahead of its time who make the world go round. But at that time, they didn’t know it yet.
Pilar Álvarez and César Rodríguez founded MachinePoint in 1997 and started their business from a small garage in Valladolid, which they converted into their offices. The company began by purchasing and selling recycled raw materials for the plastic production. It would eventually become a multinational with more than 45 employees and 8 offices around the world. And all thanks to a series of innovations that have made them unique.
Now that everyone seems to have invented teleworking, at MachinePoint Pilar was already working remotely from Madrid in 1997 connected to a central server via an ISDN line. It was a time when there was still no Internet, no email, no, Zoom, and she had to work with the phone and fax, especially with the latter. Through fax MachinePoint sent hundreds of information, quotations, requests, sales orders, etc. to all over the world. Most of her clients only had this communication system, whose cost was 1€ for international shipments.
Thanks to the raw material business, they began to see that the used machinery market was completely fragmented, so they did more research on it. Initially it was residual, but they realized that, with the expansion of the Internet, they could create a lot of synergies and bring together a market as dispersed as the machinery market.
They saw that the website was growing quickly enough to take it a step further only a year after launching the company. César Rodriguez then began looking for investors and presented the proposal in Sophia Antipolis, Europe’s largest technology park, located in Nice. The first investors interested in investing in MachinePoint started to arrive as a result of this exposure in front of the French Ministers of Economy and Industry, as well as hundreds of worldwide investors.
It was the time of the dotcom boom, a growth period for Internet-related companies that became a very strong speculative economic trend, which lasted until 2001. MachinePoint observed that exorbitant amounts of money were being invested in Internet-related companies, so they prepared a Business Plan for which they needed three hundred thousand Euros . Little by little they entered the investment circle in Europe and found a Business Angel, a person specialized in moving among investor networks, who saw a future for the idea and guided them to find what they needed. During 1999, several private investors came in and completed a first round of capital, culminating on 14 April 2000, in the London offices of Freshfields, the latest round of US Venture Capital. Several private investors joined in during 1999 and completed a first round of financing, concluding on 14 April 2000, in the London headquarters of Freshfields, the last round of US Venture Capital. Thus, three hundred thousand Euros turned into eight million Euros.
So, they did it.
MachinePoint thus became a Dotcom , and one of the first Spanish industrial companies to raise capital in the Internet era. In Boecillo, the first office of a company with a dynamic, friendly, and even family atmosphere was opened.
The company had to be developed from scratch, hiring the best Consultants to do so, and making dozens of Strategic Plans. The business idea was based on selling information through the web. When someone needed to buy machinery, they would go to MachinePoint, which would put them in contact with whoever had that machinery available for sale.
MachinePoint was a startup with a team formed by friends and family that grew at the pace of this tech-boom, which combined the hiring of local staff with large international profiles to guide the main departments. Investors oversaw looking for those great profiles to form teams of highly qualified and very global professionals.
But in 2001 the dotcom bubble burst. In March 2000, the Nasdaq reached its all-time high and began to fall. A fall into the void that caused companies to close, stock prices to crash, billions of dollars to evaporate and millions of investors to go bankrupt. Most of the dotcom companies ceased operations when they did not make a profit and had no financing. The dotcom boom caused billions of dollars in losses from March 2000 to October 2002.
MachinePoint, too, plummeted. And it wasn’t the fault of the business, but because they were 10 years ahead of everyone else. The world was not yet ready to pay for information over the Internet. The Internet was considered to be for something else, not for business. Additionly, it was still in its infancy. There was not the interconnection and globalization that exists today, where it reaches every corner of the planet. The business model that MachinePoint created in 1997 is just now starting to work. César was ahead of his time and a misunderstood genius ten years ahead of all his competitors.
But if you fall down ten times, you have to get up eleven. So, in 2003 MachinePoint had to reinvent itself. Investors pulled out and César had to buy back the company and find a way to move forward. The company went from fifty employees to ten and avoided the company’s demise.
And a new people-based journey began. For five years MachinePoint radically transformed its business model, going from a 100% Internet-based dotcom to the model that would bring it success: the purchase and sale of machinery for the Plastic Industry. The Internet would be just another channel for Marketing, Sales and Purchasing, a tool, not an end in itself. The most profitable markets were analyzed to establish the pillar of the business. Thus, a new MachinePoint was born. The model worked, and they began to grow to fifty employees in 2008.
César continued to see something that others had not yet understood. When most companies were still using Fax, MachinePoint was already using videoconferencing and teleworking technologies such as Skype, video calls,… which allowed them to become a global company with business units in every corner of the planet and with a 100% international team: Russians, Belgians, English, Italians… even staff who did not speak Spanish and, most recently graduated and trained from the beginning in the company.
2008 MachinePoint interns of Italian, Polish, Turkish, Belgian, German and Russian nationalities, many of whom are still on staff today thanks to the opening of offices in their countries of origin.
Furthermore, at MachinePoint they understood that the basis for success was the team, so, to avoid talent drain, they created a brilliant strategy. As the great Herny Ford said: “There is only one thing more expensive than training people and having them leave: not training them and having them stay”. So when talent wanted to return to their country of origin and leave the company, MachinePoint opened a market in that area, even if it was not foreseen in the strategic plan, and implemented a new delegation for that market, to try to retain the best staff .
In addition, they are incredibly innovative and flexible to find the talent in its people and even adapt projects according to them. Welcome disruption!!!!
And all this, let’s remember, from a small town in Valladolid, making working there an exciting, fun and challenging adventure, giving autonomy in decisions and, above all, a safe environment where failure is not punished, but used as learning experience. Anyone with an idea, a project, a concern, an improvement, can suggest without fear, even if it may seem crazy. Great innovations in history are usually preceded by ideas that most people called “crazy”.
All these virtues create a company with motivated, professional, honest and happy workers, which is passed on to their customers, providing them with value and the necessary service to meet their needs. Our best ambassadors are usually our own employees and MachinePoint knows this better than anyone.
Sometimes you don’t have to go far to find pioneering, unique, exceptional and innovative companies, companies that are changing the world and striving to make it a little better.
César makes it abundantly clear: “After so many years in the industry, it is exciting to see how entrepreneurs who started out buying a small machine from us 20 years ago have grown and increased their production capacity and are now major companies. As a businessman, I worry about my social responsibility, about the 40 families that our company supports and about the employment and wealth we create with our activity. In addition, there are regions in the world that are rapidly industrializing and modernizing and MachinePoint is one more grain of sand that helps in this process to improve the living conditions of many families”.
This is MachinePoint.