Marbella’s start-up scene is flourishing as increasing numbers of young entrepreneurs, particularly from the North of Europe, are choosing to relocate to this exceptionally beautiful enclave of Spain to become part of the ‘laptop generation’, where working virtually from a location of your choice is becoming the norm. Swedish-born Eric Ebbing is a typical example this new wave of entrepreneurs. He recently opened OCCO, a new Lebanese restaurant in Marbella and also continues to run music festivals in his hometown of Malmo. We chatted to him about his move to the Costa del Sol, the appeal of the area and the challenges of setting up a business in Spain.
LF: Firstly what attracted you to Marbella?
EE: The main attraction for me was to come to a place that gave me a better quality of life. I love to be outdoors, to work out and have an active and healthy social life. Sweden is great in the summer, but in the winter it is dark and cold and people don’t go out in the week and instead tend to stay inside and watch TV.
LF: Why do you feel it is a good place to invest in property?
EE: I feel and can see that more and more people like me are thinking about moving to Marbella from the north of Europe to live and work. This is particularly the case with people who can work online and so don’t need to be living in one particular country. This means that the population in and around Marbella is growing and so good for the economy and therefore the property market.
LF: You’ve bought two properties so far – in San Pedro and in the town of Marbella, why did you choose these two locations?
EE: Actually I have brought two, and also have an investment stake in a third property. I live in San Pedro and I love it for its easygoing residential feel. San Pedro is on the beach and yet has plenty of sports clubs, bars and restaurants and the village centre which are all within 5 minutes’ walk from my home. I have also brought a house in Málaga city to complement my laid back Marbella life. It is a really great city with a lot of culture and yet fast becoming very fashionable and increasingly international. Having properties in both places gives me the option of enjoying both, particularly since they are 45 minutes from each other.
LF: For the outsider how would you describe Marbella?
EE: It’s a great place if you can handle it! The lifestyle is fantastic but it’s also super important to focus on living, doing your daily routines and having as normal a life as possible. Some people find it hard to do this and fall into the trap of thinking life is one big party.
LF: Much of the Costa del Sol used to be recognized as a hub for retirees from the north of Europe. Do you think that image is changing now?
EE: Yes 100% it has already has changed. There are now a lot of younger people like me and with their families who have moved here all year round.
LF: Tell us about your restaurant OCCO? What is your connection with Lebanese cuisine?
EE: I knew of and loved the concept from my home town Malmo in Sweden. Then the original owner and founder of the restaurant decided to move here from Sweden like me, so I decided to join him as a partner in this new restaurant in Marbella.
LF: Who do you think your clientele will most likely be?
EE: We are targeting international people from 25 – 55 years old with a young mind-set and who are looking for an alternative fashionable venue – something different.
LF: How did you find establishing a restaurant business in Marbella?
EE: Yes it’s definitely different from Sweden– some things are easier and some are harder. For example the administration process is all done digitally in Sweden whereas here there is a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy. It’s been a lot of work and we are working long days and nights.
LF: What do you think the secret to running a successful restaurant is?
EE: In the end it’s a combination of many factors and not just one. Quality of the food, good service, creating the right ambiance and of course in a place like Marbella, good marketing is really important.
LF: You also work in the music business, tell us about the Big Slap music festival that you organise in Malmo?
EE: Yes we started it 6 years ago and worked with some of the biggest DJs in the world, including Avicii. We invited them to play at the festival for 1 or 2 days in Malmo which attracted audiences of over 30,000 people.
LF: How do you and the Swedish people in general feel about the death of Avicii?
EE: It was a shock and indeed very sad. He was one of the biggest artists to come out of Sweden on a par with ABBA. He was an inspiration for digital DJs around the world and he certainly helped the perception of Swedes in the industry.
LF: Do you have some events planned for Marbella in the future?
EE : For now I am 100% focused on the restaurant OCCO. I have always focused on one thing at a time and believe that it’s essential to do so in order to be successful.
LF: Do you think Marbella is a good location for major music events? What, if anything, needs to change?
EE: Definitely, of course, and there are already some that are going on such as “Starlight”. I think that the focus should be on events aimed at 35 – 65 age bracket rather than the younger crowd who came to “Big Slap”.
LF: What do you have planned on a personal and professional level for the future?
EE: For now I take one step at a time and stay focused on the restaurant. I am really enjoying life in Marbella and try to keep my feet on the ground and stay focused. Let’s see what the future brings.
Follow Eric on Instagram: www.instagram.com/ericebbing/?hl=en
and check out his new restaurant OCCO: www.occorestaurant.com
If you are interested in buying property in Marbella please take a look at the Lucas Fox website