Alex Valero knew he could trust his instincts. Over the years, he had followed them to law school in Spain, then Afghanistan as a UN peacekeeper, then Zaragoza, where he was a successful graphic designer for a global sports brand. It was there he received the news that would change his life: his father had died from a sudden heart attack in Granada. An only child, Alex immediately crossed the country to be with his mother, and as the weeks passed, he decided to stay.
Granada is a small city, and Alex soon discovered that jobs were hard to find, despite his qualifications. He was hardly alone. At that time in 2016, 4.2 million people across Spain were looking for work, with levels of youth unemployment over 40 percent. Alex searched for a job for almost a year without success, so when his girlfriend suggested that he come along to a digital marketing course at the local university, Alex jumped at the chance. Together, they completed the Google Actívate program, part of the Grow with Google initiative offering free online and face-to-face courses in digital skills. More than 335,000 people have trained with Google Actívate so far, as Google pursues its commitment to help 1 million Europeans find work or grow their businesses by 2020.
As he worked through the course, Alex began recognizing a trend: many of his friends told familiar stories of fruitless job applications and the struggle to make ends meet. And while out cycling one day, Alex had a brainwave: bars and restaurants often need extra staff at short notice and struggle to find them in time. What if an app could connect his unemployed friends with restaurants that need help?
The idea had huge potential. Spain’s unemployed youth were an untapped workforce for the country’s huge hospitality industry, and an app that could streamline social security paperwork for employers could create opportunities for thousands of people. Alex asked his teachers at Google Actívate for advice and soon recognized the scale of the work involved in realizing the project. He had the skills to make it work, but it would be a major commitment. With no guarantee of success, was he ready to risk it?
I had the idea, but not the knowledge. That’s when I discovered Google Actívate. I learned a lot from the courses – like how to start your company, understand your audience, create digital marketing campaigns and how to turn users into clients.
Alex decided to trust his instincts once again. Dedicating 70 percent of his time to the new project, he applied for and won first prize in a national accelerator scheme for his new app, BuscoExtra. That’s when things really started to move fast, with awards from the University of Malaga and Vodafone quickly following.
As momentum grew, Alex put everything he'd learned from Google Activate into practice, setting up a digital marketing campaign and bringing in 20 percent of the company’s first clients with his newly-learned SEO skills.
Today, more than 15,300 people across the country use BuscoExtra to find work, and over 1,000 businesses use the app to advertise positions for employees to fill. BuscoExtra is also expanding, with the team set to grow from 14 to more than 25 employees. In 2019, Alex is aiming even higher, with the goal of facilitating one million hours of work through the app. Using the skills he's acquired with Activate, Alex has not only built a career for himself but is now also able to help others find work through BuscoExtra.