Founded in 2020 by Jose Manuel Peral Cortés and Juan Varela de Limia, GuruCall uses technology to take the coaching & advice experience to a new level.
This Madrid-based startup offers a platform for building a “marketplace for business advice” in which users can enjoy 1-to-1 or 1-to-many meetings from fifteen to sixty-minutes with successful company founders, C-Level executives or acclaimed athletes.
GuruCall platform has a panel of successful gurus – CEOs, Founders, and World Champions – who can help organisations grow. They empower people by sharing their real-life experiences, inspiring them, advising them on learning new skills, igniting passions, helping get real insights, and thereby making better decisions.
Some of these successful professionals include Alejandro Agag, founder of Formula E, Albert Rivera, founder of Ciudadanos political party, Gloria Lomana, founder of 50&50, and Dimas Gimeno, founder and CEO of WOW Group. Others from the tech ecosystem like Fabrice Grinda, founder of FJLabs, Paula Almansa, founder of Loom are also part of the platform.
Sports personalities such as Gisela Pulido, twelve times wakeboard world champion, and Sergio Scariolo, NBA and World Basketball Champion, along with many other successful entrepreneurs and executives from different fields are also part of the platform.
Last year, the company raised €1.2M in its pre-Seed round of funding led by entrepreneurs such as Félix Ruiz, co-founder of Tuenti, Auro, Storybeat, former President of Job and Talent and actual co-CEO of Playtomic, Paco Avila, founder of Medac (recently sold to KKR for €200M), Hugo Arevalo, co-founder of The PowerMBA, Auro, and New York-based FJLabs.
This year, GuruCall added an extra €500,000 to its pre-seed round. This extra funding was raised from Spanish family office and internal investors like Félix Ruiz (Co-Founder of Tuenti, Auro, Storybeat, former President of Job and Talent and actual Co-CEO of Playtomic), Paco Avila (Founder of Medac recently sold to KKR for 200M€), Hugo Arevalo (Co-Founder of The PowerMBA, Auro).
For this week’s ‘Founder in Focus’ interview series, we have chosen to focus on Jose Manuel Peral Cortés for being the ‘Guru’ behind the success of Gurucall.
Here are the edited excerpts:
SC: How would you describe yourself as an entrepreneur? What was the inspiration or Eureka moment for creating GuruCall?
JM: I am an operational person and love doing different things. I think that an entrepreneur, at least in the beginning of the project, has to help in every area of the business, as this attitude motivates the rest of the team. The GuruCall idea comes from speaking with different successful entrepreneurs and C-level executives that were receiving different requests from companies or other professionals to speak to them about different topics or skills, or even were asked to share their ideas and opinions about something. We noticed there wasn’t any platform where you could find successful people to learn from them; obtain their advice or request them to be your mentor. In a few words, let’s say we created Tinder for business.
SC: What were some of the initial challenges that you faced while setting up GuruCall?
JM: There have been many and. different challenges: the first one was regarding the supply in the marketplace. Something that we had very clear, was that the talents taking part in GuruCall had to be C-Level Executives, Inspiring first level sportspeople, founders… and as you can imagine these successful people are always very busy, they are brands themselves and do not need to do this for living.
We realized that it was very important not to approach them with a deck or with a normal MVP, so we had to invest a lot in having a finished product before starting to pitch the idea to the mentioned successful people. Also, GuruCall started during the pandemic, so recruiting the team and closing the first meetings was very very hard. That is the reason why it tooks us 15 months to launch. the project.
SC: What was it like to hire your first team member?
JM: It was very tough, as we started the process during the lock-down. Everything changed dramatically in a short period of time and I love remote working. However, I think it is not ideal to start a project. At the beginning, projects are more about passion and testing things than about having it all planned. Things change very quickly and being a group of people together sharing the passion and creating something from scratch is something that remote working cannot provide.
SC: What was your first office like? How has your office evolved over the years?
JM: We had a small office at the beginning that we had paid for a year, but we did not use it during the lock-down. Right now we are a full remote company but we sometimes go to co-working spaces to have meetings and put things in common with each other.
SC: What are some of your most memorable memories during GuruCall’s journey?
JM: On our platform, you can arrange video sessions with very successful people but we have also recorded masterclasses with all them. Meeting some of my idols in person has been really an honour: Fabrice Grinda (best investor in the world), Sergio Scariolo (NBA coach champion), Mario Conde (Former President of Banesto Bank) and many others… Hearing their stories and knowing right from themselves how they have succeeded in life, is super inspiring.
6. What were some of the key challenges you faced while seeking your first investment?
JM: My co-founder and President of GuruCall, Félix Ruíz is one of the biggest entrepreneurs in Europe, being co-founder of Tuenti, Job and Talent, Playtomic and investor in many other companies. So thanks to his background we managed to raise a pre-seed round of 1M€, which is not the usual thing to achieve in Spain.
7. You recently raised €500,000. Do you plan to raise more considering the favourable fundraising environment?
JM: No, we do not. For the next twelve months, we want to focus on adding some functionality to the product that we need, invest in our brand and get traction. We will do another round hopefully next Christmas.
8. What is your long-term vision for your company?
JM: The long term vision of GuruCall is to become the default business media platform, the place you log in to see business content, to close meetings with an advisor or a coach or to even stream your business event.
9. When would you consider your company to be a success?
JM: This is the second company I am co-founder of so, after my first experience, success means to get the company over break-even and to create a place where people are happy to work.
10. What are your international expansion plans?
JM: We are a global company. However, for a couple of years, we are focussing on the Spanish speaking countries: Latam and Spain. However, yet international companies and professionals from Europe and the US have closed sessions with the talents in the platform, to have a session about motivation, to understand LATAM markets, etc.
11. What would you advise your younger self? Are there things that you would do differently if given a chance?
JM: Definitely, if I could go back in time, I would do things differently. Unfortunately, we can only learn from mistakes or from mentors, that is exactly another reason why GuruCall is needed. First thing I would recommend to my younger self would be to find a good mentor and to only do business with good people.