• Madrid Investment Attraction

Felix Ohswald, co-founder and CEO of GoStudent: “We hope to have 200 people in the Madrid team by the end of the year”

GoStudent is a platform for private online classes. Originally from Austria, the company launched in Spain in 2020 with the opening of an office in Madrid. This startup has recently achieved unicorn status – a valuation of more than one billion dollars – and has raised €600 million from renowned investors, such as SoftBank, for its expansion. As part of this expansion strategy, it acquired the Catalan portal Tus Clases Particulares at the beginning of February.

In this interview, co-founder and CEO Felix Oshwald explains to Madrid Investment Attraction what led them to launch in Madrid and their future plans in our country.

M.I.A.: First of all, could you tell us what GoStudent is and how it was created?

F.O.: GoStudent was created in 2016. I created a WhatsApp group to help some of my brother’s classmates who needed help with maths. Over time, this channel grew exponentially until, after receiving the support of some investors, we created an app to reach more students.

In this way we managed to establish a solid base of users, until one of them requested his first private class. And this is how we gave a new perspective to the company that would end up giving rise to our current business model. Our platform offers individual classes in 30 different subjects, and we create virtual classrooms that serve to connect teachers and students.

M.I.A.: When did you start your European expansion and what was the first office you opened outside of Vienna?

F.O.: After establishing our headquarters in Vienna, our international expansion began with the opening of the French market from our office in Lyon in 2020.

M.I.A.: When did you decide to open an office in Madrid and why?

F.O.: Once we had laid the foundations of the company and gained the confidence of the first investors, we developed an expansion plan to scale the business. Thus, after the success of our arrival in France, we decided to venture into a market like Spain, which is a priority for us.

M.I.A.: Did you consider other European or Spanish cities at that time?

F.O.: Of course. 2020 was not only the year in which we opened our first two offices outside of DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), in Lyon and Madrid, but during that stage we also did the groundwork establish what would be our headquarters in Milan, London and Amsterdam in early 2021.

M.I.A.: Did you undertake any city benchmarking before opening the Spanish office? What factors are most relevant to GoStudent when choosing a new city?

F.O.: Yes, Spain is a very dynamic country with very interesting cities such as Barcelona, Valencia or even Malaga, which is becoming a true technological hub in southern Europe. We finally decided on Madrid due to its strategic location within the country and its excellent connections with the rest of Europe. The city’s standard of living, which allows it to attract a lot of talent, or the fact that it is home to many technology companies and scale-ups like ours are also very attractive factors.

M.I.A.: What are your impressions of Madrid? What aspects would you highlight of the city?

F.O.: I travel a lot to visit our different teams in Europe and America and without a doubt, I can say that the visits to Madrid are my favourite. It seems to me to be a fantastic city, with a digital ecosystem that is becoming more and more important, in which there is a lot of talent and that has positioned itself very well as a pole of attraction for investment and talent.

M.I.A.: How many people work in the Madrid office? From here, do you work only for the Spanish market or are global tasks also carried out?

F.O.: Right now, our team in Madrid consists of 110 people and we hope it will reach 200 by the end of the year. Although practically all our employees from the Spanish team are in Madrid, there are some working in the Vienna and Berlin offices, as well as remotely from other Spanish cities such as Alicante and Barcelona.

Another perk that we offer our employees is the possibility of working from any of our offices in a flexible manner; for this reason, in the Spanish office there are employees who regularly support our teams in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

M.I.A.: What type of workers are you looking for? Is it easy to find and hire talent in Madrid?

F.O.: At GoStudent we welcome all types of professionals. A large part of our team, both in Spain and globally, is made up of sales and customer service professionals and these roles are the ones we are looking for the most. As I pointed out before, Madrid is undoubtedly a talent hub, where we can find highly qualified and motivated candidates, with very diverse professional backgrounds.

M.I.A.: Have you had contact with local administrations?

F.O.: So far we have had contact with some chambers of commerce, professional organizations and educational institutions. Our goal is to gradually make ourselves known among different stakeholders so that we can get to work together and reach more and more Spanish students.

M.I.A.: GoStudent has recently raised 300 million and already has unicorn status. What are your growth plans in Madrid and Spain? And how can local administrations help you on this path?

F.O.: We have two main objectives: to continue our international expansion and to strengthen our presence in markets that are mature for us, such as Spain. Our commitment to Spain right now is very strong: we are going to double our workforce, and operations such as the recent acquisition of Tus Media will help us become the benchmark for digital education and private classes in Spain.