A Look Back at 3 Years of Living and Working with Startups in Lisbon

Three years ago today I touched down in Lisbon as my new and chosen home. The plan was to move back to Europe (again) as I had studied in France while in college and had also lived in the historic city of Prague for 2 years. I love living and working in the United States, and I have a lot of experience in international marketing and business development working for US companies, but Europe was calling me back. In 2008 I had vacationed in Lisbon and fell in love with the city and the people of Portugal.

So everything necessary was boxed up and in transit via boat to the UK and then transported via truck to Lisbon 3 years ago. I arrived ahead of this shipment with two suitcases and 3 cats. My partner and I had rented a furnished apartment that we found through a new friend, so we had a very nice ‘home’ to arrive to which made our transition even easier.

A lot has happened in these past 3 years and in addition to getting to know a new country, many new people, learning the language enough to get in and out of trouble, the thing that has been most exciting is seeing the start-up community take shape. It is impressive that so much has happened in such a short time. And as I’ve said time and time again, working in tech in Portugal is reminiscent of working in tech in California in the earlier days.

Of course people have been developing their tech business ideas for many years in Portugal as elsewhere, but the visible and organized start-up community backed by many important players (Startup Lisboa, Beta-i, The Mayor’s office, co-work spaces, all the Universities and many others) in the city and country has really come together and is fostering an environment to attract, mentor, support and fund numerous startups. Additionally jobs are being created, which is ALWAYS a good thing.

Here are some of the highlights from my past 3 years of working as a marketing consultant and living in Lisbon, Portugal;

  • Discovering that there are still Pirates in Portugal (and around the globe)
    • Not long after I arrived in town I heard about Startup Pirates Lisbon which was the 2nd event that the organization held after their first event in Porto. Startup Pirates has a clear mission and they have helped a lot of founders better prepare to start their own companies (and find co-founders and a lot of support). I have been a mentor for all 4 Startup Pirates Lisboa and mentored many teams, most of which were in the early stage of their development but many have gone on to build their companies and apps. Special thanks to Inês Santos Silva and her team for building an organization that is now helping many startups around the globe.
  • Attending a lot of 1st conferences and events
  • Consulting, advising and ongoing mentoring for some very cool companies
    • I continue to work for, mentor and advise teams as they form, grow and evolve. I was involved with a project with Limetree in 2013 and was very active in 2013 with the team from Foodzai. I continue to mentor many teams that came out of the various events and help them even further as they move into their marketing efforts or pivot and need some added input on their plans.
  • Working for the first Portuguese start-up funded by Seedcamp
    • In 2013 I worked for part of the year helping SimpleTax with their marketing efforts. SimpleTax is a small company and the first Portuguese company to receive funding from Seedcamp in the UK. They are helping UK taxpayers save lots of money with their online tax submission application. This was a great opportunity with a really great team.
  • Meeting a lot of hard working, innovative and caring people
    • Startups are filled with passionate, hardworking people who are willing to put it all on the line for their business vision. It does seem like there are startups everywhere now and it feels a bit trendy. The real players will continue to focus and grow their companies and many will move up and on, but they will forever have history in this eco-system and likely have teams in Portugal forever. More and more money is pouring into Europe, governments are helping and hopefully soon there will be some more advantageous tax laws to help start-up even more in Europe. And the US VC’s have started to come, bring their A teams and open up offices around Europe. In the past 3 years I have met many people and as this space continues to grow, I long to see a better connected community that shares and helps each other out all the more as well as attracts more women.
  • Presenting to the President of Portugal with The Lisbon Challenge team
    • Last fall I had the unique opportunity to present on behalf of being a mentor in The Lisbon Challenge to a large group hosted by The President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva. Presenting to the President of Portugal was amazing but also shows his support of Beta-I and many others in the ecosystem with a clear message of the importance of growing startups in Portugal.
The Lisbon Challenge Team meets with The President of Portugal. September 2013.

The Lisbon Challenge Team meets with The President of Portugal. September 2013.

In closing, special thanks to those who helped and shared a lot of information over the past 3 years. I look forward to what the coming year has to offer and meeting, mentoring and working even more startup teams in Portugal.

  • Carla Costa
  • Davis Gouveia
  • Lina Figueira
  • Pedro Janela
  • Andre Marquet
  • Ricardo Marvao
  • Celso Pinto
  • Joao Remondes
  • Pedro Rocha Vieira
  • Ana Sanitago
  • Ines Silva
  • Joao Vasconcelos
  • Pedro Veloso
  • Countless people from a long list of start-ups
  • And my caring and loving partner!

Obrigada and até breve,


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