Gibraltar has a proud history of entrepreneurism. Take George Bassadone, for instance: back in 1965 he formed a company that cleaned the hulls of visiting ships, reducing their drag and thus increasing fuel efficiency. He went on to diversify into ship repairs and fuel bunkering, and Gibunco, now run by his son, has since grown to become Gibraltar’s most prominent private enterprise, with an annual turnover of £2bn.
Don’t expect Mediterranean siestas and late dinners, Gibraltar rocks to a British beat
While most of the money in this British Overseas Territory at the foot of Spain (population: 32,000) nowadays comes from financial services, e-gaming, shipping and tourism, the entrepreneurial spirit lives on and is fuelling ambitious plans to make Gibraltar a major European tech hub over the next few years. And it’s going to be a steep growth curve. Local lawyer Philip Vasquez, who worked in fintech in London and is now one of the organisers of not-for-profit Gibraltar Startup, says the first “meetup” he went to, last October, numbered around five people. But since then growth has mushroomed, and the organisation counts more than 300 investors, entrepreneurs and developers as its members. Vasquez cites the quality of life in Gibraltar plus a reservoir of accomplished developers employed by the e-gaming industry as two significant factors in its potential as a future hub.
Local success stories include online transactions company Easy Payments Gateway, domain name specialist Famous Four Media, and Odobo, an online marketplace for gaming designers. And there are plenty more small companies who aren’t going for the Moon shot but are nevertheless helping to carry the impetus forward.
The Gibraltar government has been supportive of the nascent startup scene on its doorstep, paying particular attention to the cryptocurrency area. Vasquez is bullish. “We have a vision that by 2020 we could be right up there with London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Barcelona,” he says. “There’s no reason why this can’t happen.”
Relax and unwind
The famous Rock Hotel was built in 1932 and has welcomed guests and dignitaries for decades, including Sir Winston Churchill, Alec Guinness and John Lennon. Book return flights from London to Gibraltar, plus a 7-night stay at the Rock Hotel from:£282 ppBook flights and hotel
Don’t expect Mediterranean siestas and late dinners. Gibraltar rocks to a British beat, so mealtimes and office hours are generally similar to those in the UK. ‘Smart casual’ attire is fine for most business meetings, which are conducted in English. If you’re making small talk, the topic of sport will usually go down well. And you’ll also get extra points for knowing that the Gibraltar Football Association was recently accepted as a member of FIFA, so the national team can now take part in the World Cup. Or at least the qualifying rounds...
For such a small place, Gibraltar has a surprising variety of food on offer, from fish and chips to haute cuisine. You can even find unique Gibraltarian delicacies, such as calentita, a pancake made with chickpea flour.