Discovering and Rediscovering (Startups) from Lisbon, Portugal to Los Angeles, CA

Lisbon Portugal

Discovering Portuguese Startups

Soon I will be back in the United States after 4 incredible years discovering Portugal. I wrote this blog while in Madeira, the amazing and must-see island that the Portuguese discovered in 1419. Madeira was an important discovery for Portugal and most of the world knows that the Portuguese had an intensive period of maritime exploration during the 15th and 16th centuries. Portuguese sailors were at the vanguard of European overseas exploration. It’s a long and important story and in some ways it feels reminiscent of the intensive period of startup growth that is happening now in Portugal.

Yes, most of the globe knows that Portugal was on a short list of countries needing a bailout from the EU. During the ‘paying back/Troika years’ a very interesting startup ecosystem came together which I have written about often in the past. If you are not physically in Portugal, it’s really worth following, very much like the high growth years in Berlin.

I am picking an interesting time to step away from Portugal as each month more and more is taking place in Portugal. Money is moving around the country, companies are hiring and the speed at which things are happening is picking up. This all adds to the excitement and the opportunities that are available in the startup space.

I am taking with me the spirit of discovery to rediscover ‘the other west coast’; Los Angeles. LA is a HUGE city with a lot of opportunity. And it is really spread out. No walking to startup events or mentoring meetings like one can do in Lisbon, unless you have a day to spare. But I am ready to rediscover LA and work on new projects and mentor and coach startups. I feel all the more knowledgeable and prepared after mentoring over 200 startups, teaching classes, running intensive coaching sessions and being a line of support and advice for many early stage startups from around the globe.

I believe that my time away from the US has provided me with much more of a global business and entrepreneurial view at a time when many investors are paying more attention to non-US opportunities. The world continues to get smaller and more interconnected and I realized in these years that I am a ‘connector’. I will continue to connect companies, many Portuguese, with partners and others that can help grow their ideas and businesses.

So as I fly out, know that I am still part of the Portuguese startup family and I am certain it will continue to growth. Reach out if you need marketing, business development and operations expertise and keep in touch. And if you are an LA-based incubator or accelerator and need to add to your mentoring team or staff, let’s talk!

Thanks for helping me discover the early Portuguese ‘startup discovers’! I’m learning it’s all about effective navigation,


PS – Thanks for sharing, commenting, liking and retweeting my recent What I Didn’t Expect When I Moved to Portugal in 2011 blog. The response was really tremendous and it’s clear that many people are tuning into what is happening in Portugal. Fantastic!

And thanks for coming out for drinks earlier this week!

Sandra Sick

See you soon drinks!

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What I Didn’t Expect When I Moved to Portugal in 2011

Just about 4 years ago I moved to Portugal with my partner who had secured a teaching position at the French school (Lycée Francais) in Lisbon. We had vacationed in Lisbon in 2008 and we both really connected with the city. It was a big move, from Los Angeles, but the decision was easy. Now I am preparing a return trip to Los Angeles to focus on more challenging work opportunities and of course I am thinking about all that has happened in these 4 years.

Here are a few things that I just did not plan for even though I had spent time in Portugal and had done a lot of research prior to our arrival.

  1. That the Portuguese are among the friendliest and most humble people on the planet. I knew the Portuguese were nice but I have encountered such amazing people who are kind, supportive and caring. I doubt it’s just good luck but people are really kindhearted and the Portuguese language uses a lot of very polite phrases. Like when you go to pay somebody, they ask if they can take the money. It’s really the little things that truly speak about a nation (especially during difficult financial times).
  2. The discovery of a startup scene. Most visible traces of a startup scene go back about 3 years now, but of course there have always been startups in Portugal. We all know that the Portuguese travelled the world ahead of the rest and created many new and innovative businesses and there have been a number of Portuguese companies that have had much success in the past few decades. But the real Portuguese startup scene did come alive not long after I arrived in Lisbon. I lived through the other West Coast startup evolution in California and I never expected to witness this incredible startup growth activity again.
  3. That the country is 2 degrees of separation especially in the startup world. Yes, Portugal is a small country, but people get out and do many things and get to know each other. When I meet somebody new, it often turns out that we know 50 of the same people on LinkedIn. You can build a network fast here.
  4. That I would be in Lisbon when the entire world is now discovering or rediscovering Portugal. If you have not visited this amazing country, add it to the top of your travel list. The energy is great, the weather quite good, the history very visible, the prices very affordable, the mix of activities fantastic and again, the people are very friendly and helpful.
  5. That I would ever give up Italian wine! Yup, my pallet has totally converted to Portuguese wine. There is such a great offering of very affordable red, wine, and green wines and when you go to dinner, the price of a decent glass of house wine can be less than the cost of a coke. Regardless of the price, the wine industry has a lot to offer and the Douro region is spectacular.
  6. My surprise to learn that there are so many polyglots in Portugal. Many people in Portugal speak 3+ languages and are comfortable speaking English. This really does help to get to know people while you try to learn their language. And it makes learning Portuguese even tougher if you speak English, Spanish and/or French. Obrigada for speaking such good English!
  7. That even after years of exploring Portugal, I feel like I have so much more to see! It’s easy to move around to other cities and popular places without a car in Portugal, but to really see a country, you need to have time to really roam and get off the main roads. We’ve done some of that but never enough.
  8. Education! It seems like everyone I meet has 2-3 degrees in Portugal. It’s very impressive and it seems like many people have been able to get really amazing educations affordably. Now all that is needed is more jobs!
  9. That I would fall madly in love with this country (when I always wanted to live in Italy where my grandparents were born). I knew when we moved here that I was really going to like it, but I adore Portugal. OK, all the car beeping, and you know who you are, is strange and out of character, but it’s a country with a lot of good infrastructure. You’ll find clean water, good transportation (when not on strike), good internet speeds for residential use, lots of great tourism opportunities, excellent language skills and so much more. And the cities and towns are just beautiful, much like the people.
  10. That I would work with and mentor over 200 startups! Meeting, mentoring, coaching, teaching, advising and networking with so many startups, and most of them Portuguese, has given me this amazing inside view of the country. I have had the great opportunity to meet many smart, educated, risk taking, global thinking entrepreneurs ready to take on the world, create a cool path for themselves and help to make Portugal an even better place. Being part of Beta-I and involved with Startup Lisboa has been key to coming into contact with so many startups. Thanks!
  11. That it would be so hard to earn a living with Portuguese clients. Like many, the lack of strong career opportunities has driven a lot of Portuguese outside of the country and hopefully salaries will start to rise and money will start to move around more.
The Lisbon Startup 'Game'

The Lisbon Startup ‘Game’

So as I prepare to depart in mid-July, thank you to all of you with special thanks to the team at Startup Lisboa, Beta-I, Portugal Startups and Startup Pirates the IPN team in Coimbra, Startup Braga and to each and every startup I have had the opportunity to meet and work with through many different programs. There is DEFINITELY something happening in Lisbon!

Thank you for welcoming me into your lovely country and I will be back. And you are all invited to ‘my Los Angeles’ where there is a lot of startup movement. Think of me as your connection to ‘the other west coast’!



>>>Keep up-to-date by following me on Twitter @SandraSick and KEEP TWEETING PORTUGAL!

 Here are some pictures from startup activities;

Sandra Sick SandraSick @SandraSick

Wrap-up for #LIS15 – Beta-i Team!

Sandra Sick SandraSick @SandraSick

Lisbon Challenge Startup Teams

Sandra Sick SandraSick @SandraSick

Sandra Sick Moderating Startup Pitches

Sandra Sick SandraSick @SandraSick

Sandra Sick and Magnafinance

Sandra Sick SandraSick @SandraSick

Panel for SVC2Lx

Sandra Sick SandraSick @SandraSick

Presenting to the President of Portugal

Sandra Sick @SandraSick Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend Coimbra

Sandra Sick @SandraSick Startup Pirates Lisboa

Startup Pirates Lisboa

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The Final Week of The Lisbon Challenge Spring 2015 (4th Edition)

It’s upon us, the final week of The Lisbon Challenge Spring 2015 edition and the 3-month accelerator program has progressed rapidly. From my vantage point as a coach and a mentor, I’d say that this edition went even faster than the previous! The focus and intensity of the teams has been non-stop! This week will be jammed with preparation for the final pitch at The Lisbon Investment Summit on June 4th and 5th as well as working aggressively on products, websites and overall preparation for more visibility for each startup.

sandra sick Lisbon Challenge

Getting to know the Lisbon Challenge teams – Day 1!

I have had the pleasure of being involved in all 4 editions of The Lisbon Challenge, the first two as a mentor and the last two as a coach and mentor. Coaching digs in much deeper and you work with teams on a weekly basis, so you really see their direction and progress and can have a big impact in areas. It’s a great opportunity and it certainly is rewarding.

And each Lisbon Challenge edition has it’s own vibe. It’s all group dynamics in the end, but I can see how the program has grown and as much as the Lisbon Challenge/Beta-i program team does not ‘babysit’, the expectations do keep rising both from the teams that apply and the results throughout the program.

sandra sick clinkpic

Working with the ClinkPic team on new branding.

Sandra Sick Eggy

Pedro from Eggy presenting during the MPV Session.

Technically there is no ‘winner’ in this edition of The Lisbon Challenge, but there are ‘perks’ that will be awarded at #LIS that have a monetary value. But really, each team that is accepted and goes through the entire program is a winner. They win a wider network of contacts including a long list of instructors, coaches, mentors, speakers, investors and other guests, they gain 3 months of focus on their product or service and often go through some level of rebranding, pivoting or new direction. Most teams also make serious progress and solve a lot of business problems (often specific to recruitment and rebuilding).

Accelerator programs are not intended to be easy and The Lisbon Challenge teams have been working as Beta-I as they expand their office space and take on a much bigger role for their operations which is involved in a wide range of projects, events and programs. The Lisbon Challenge has also become a very internationally known accelerator program and the number of applications per edition is impressive.

So, with days to go before the startups find themselves on the #LIS stage, here are a few words of encouragement for the member of each startup team;

  1. You made it this far, so stay focused on your key milestones.
  2. Get your feet on the street and continue to sell and get users.
  3. You now have a much larger network, remember to use it and use it wisely.
  4. You earned bragging rights for being a Lisbon Challenge alumni. Keep in touch, share your journey and brag where it makes sense!
  5. Tweet, retweet and share your news on TWITTER!
  6. Remember that most investors are looking at momentum, management team, market size and money.

And lastly, since we all know that startups have a high failure rate, ‘It’s more important to fail at something that matters than to succeed at something that doesn’t’.

Happy pitching teams!

Sandra (@SandraSick)

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Sure Signs of a Growing Startup Environment

As I’ve written in the past, there is a lot of growth in the startup scene in Portugal today. It’s an incredible amount of growth in a short time. Rapid startup growth is happening all around the globe and the number of startup incubators and accelerator programs in Europe alone is HUGE. It’s all good news.

As somebody who works closely with startups, I see a lot from the ‘edge’. I meet, speak with, teach, mentor, coach and work with a lot of different startups. Nearly all of them are looking for money, which is not surprising to anyone. Really, I can count on one hand the number of times a startup said, ‘we’re not taking money now’. Good for them!

Tough decisions when it comes to investing can take too long!

Tough decisions when it comes to investing can take too long!

The flip side is that many of the startups looking for money go through such a painstaking process that the challenge of raising funds seems larger than the effort to get their product to market. Yes, this is the reality of leading the charge while bootstrapping and looking for cash to grow.

In the recent months, we have seen some back to back investment news that is a sure sign that the startup scene is growing up in Portugal. Yes, Farfetch,, Bica Sudios, MyGon, B-Guest and others have announced investments. All this is great news but for many, they are stuck in what seems to be an abnormally long process of getting a yes or no from investors. Not all, but many.

I am a big fan of Brad Feld, a managing director at Foundry Group in Boulder, Colorado. He invests in software and internet companies around the US. He recently wrote an article on “Why We Pass Quickly on Things‘ , and I highly recommend reading his blog on an on-going basis.

To quote the article, ‘As part of our strategy, we have purposely constrained our fund size ($225m per fund, which lasts about three years and covers about 30 investments) and our partnership size (four partners, no associates.) As a result, our goal is to say no in 60 seconds‘.

OK, 60 seconds is fast, but in the life of a startup, this is like days and a long process of application submissions, revisions, meetings, more meetings, lots of indecision and more really takes away from a startup focusing on their product and/or business development.

So the article is a good read and when we start seeing investment decisions getting to a yes or no even faster, we will know how much more the Portuguese Startup ecosystem has grown up.

Feel free to share your story of getting funding, regardless of where the money came from for your company. Roughly how long did it take and what did you learn?

Have a great day and thanks for sharing this post,



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The Portuguese Startup Scene is Really Growing – FAST!

The 4th edition of The Lisbon Challenge is about to kick off and 22 teams are making their way to Beta-I in Lisbon to spend the next 3 months challenging themselves and accelerating their development efforts and business activities. I’m looking forward to coaching the 4 teams assigned and mentoring the others!

Many strangers come together in these programs and it’s great to watch all that happens on a business level as well as witness many friendships form. Welcome to Lisbon Challengers and it’s hard to even remember when this accelerator program did not exist!

More good and impressive fundraising news;, a tech hiring marketplace with a peer referral rewarding system, just raised €750.000 a seed investment round that was led by Portugal Ventures. The list of companies with impressive funding is growing and growing. Fundraising is an important milestone in the growth of an ecosystem. Congratulations and click here to read the news.

And I doubt anyone missed this news, but just in case; Fashion Marketplace Farfetch Raises $86M Led By DST At A $1B Valuation. Now that is a high watermark for a company started in Portugal. Keep them coming startups!

There is now a Twitter Portugal account (@TwitterPortugal) and as much as I’m not sure what to expect from this account, it just could be a sign that people in Portugal are starting to value Twitter even more. #Finally

We’re seeing a lot of new events, meetup and other gatherings throughout the country. Again, another sign of a growing startup/tech ecosystem. One event to add to your schedule is the Productized Conference which is a 3-day event happening in Lisbon from October 7-9th with a focus of how to turn ideas into well-designed products. Get details at:

There is a growing list of coworking spaces in Portugal, as you’d expect with so much startup activity. I was recently at the soon to be open Mouraria Creative Hub and it’s a very impressive space. I have to say that the design of the offices, tucked in a very old and not popular part of Lisbon has this really cool energy. The light and little slices of unique views of the city from the many windows is inspiring and part of a great story to transform this space into this creative center. Check it out or apply to work there!

Every growing ecosystem has its share of publications and news and if you have not been reading these two, you’re missing out on the latest and greatest news and interviews on Portuguese Startups (in English);

And remember to follow them on Twitter!

I’m heading to Porto next week to give a marketing and sales workshop to a group of young entrepreneurs involved in Startup Pirates Porto. I have lost count as to how many Startup Pirate weekends have happened around the globe since the team kicked off this program in September 2011, but the number is impressive. I have met a lot of great people and mentored many teams during the 4 Startup Pirates Lisboa events. Again, it’s hard to remember when this intensive startup program did not exist in Portugal.

Startup Pirates wine 'Startup Community Contributor of the Year’ Award from Microsoft Portugal

Startup Pirates wine ‘Startup Community Contributor of the Year’ Award from Microsoft Portugal

So congratulations Startup Pirates on winning the ‘Startup Community Contributor of the Year’ Award from Microsoft Portugal at the #AtivarPT event. It’s well deserved and thanks for continuing to grow pirate families around the world! Here’s a link to the story behind Startup Pirates;

And learn more about the exciting new initiative from Microsoft – AtivarPT! Their mission focuses on ‘bringing together the best of the best to help Portuguese Startups build successful, world–class businesses in the future’.

So it’s clear that more money is coming into Portugal or Portuguese companies, corporate partners are increasing their support and investment (Microsoft and others), new events are getting added to the calendar and the Portuguese startup news is spreading around the globe (also validated by the Portuguese team invited recently to SXSW). Let’s look for more job creation and even better opportunities for those in the ecosystem as this very lively space continues to grow.

Please continue to share all this good news with your network. Obrigada,


And make sure you follow me on Twitter!

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A Crash Course on ‘Inside the Startup Funding Game’ from The Pitchdeck Podcast

The Pitchdeck Podcast

The Pitchdeck Podcast

The podcast world is really evolving and we’re now seeing a great offering of all types of content with very high levels of production. Startups have all types of content, tools, online classes and more to learn as they grow their business and podcasts can be very helpful. Since October of 2014, The Pitchdeck Podcast has been interviewing a very long and impressive list of VC’s, investors and other influencers in the early stage capital raising world.

We all know that raising capital is challenging and these podcasts allow you to get insight directly from 50+ key venture capitals and angel investors. The interviews are well hosted by Gavin McCulley who is an active Angel Investor, Startup Mentor, and Entrepreneur living in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also the founding chapter President of Keiretsu Forum – Charleston, a nationally syndicated group of over 1100 angel investors. He knows his stuff and gets the most out of these smart interviews.

Learn more about raising capital and search iTunes for The Pitchdeck Podcasts for specific people or VC firms of interest to you.

And follow The Pitchdeck on Twitter at @the_pitch_deck and@Gavin_McCulley today!

This extensive podcast offering will give you added insight, real-time suggestions and boost your confidence as you move through the process of looking for capital, especially in the US, but not exclusively.

Enjoy and podcast away,


Marketing consultant, mentor, advisor and coach


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Top Teams from Lisbon Challenge Fall 2014 Head to the US

The 3rd edition of The Lisbon Challenge 3-month acceleration program wrapped up last month and co-founders from many of the top 10 startups are packing their bags and heading to the US. The group departs for San Francisco Sunday for an intensive 4 days meeting with major tech companies, investors, influencers and others in The Bay Area. After San Francisco they will head to Boston for more meetings and networking.

San Francisco, CA

First stop on the Lisbon Challenge Roadshow!

It will be a jam packed roadshow, much like the Lisbon Challenge program they just experienced. As many of you know who have been on roadshows, the teams will pitch a lot in a short period of time, meet tons of people and learn a lot about what others are doing to build their businesses. They will return to Lisbon tired but filled with new knowledge, more insight and input to their business strategies as well as a lot of follow-up from their meetings!

Let’s wish the teams well and follow as well as  SHARE their tweets (@LisbonChallenge), posts, videos (Jorge, no R-rated videos) and updates.

Have fun LC Fall 14 teams and congrats again to the Top 10 startups;

  • My.Skinmix
  • WalletSaver
  • Pure
  • Planedia
  • Rewind Cities
  • MagniFinance
  • Tationem
  • Walmond
  • Doinn
  • Farmin

Lisbon Challenge Coach to some and Mentor to others,


PS: Beta-i is NOW accepting applications to the next Lisbon Challenge, the most international accelerator in Europe. Alumni registered a growth of 270% in paying users and raised over €30m. This could be YOU. Applications close on January 31. Get more details today.

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A Photo Review of Startup Events in Portugal During 2014

As we near the end of 2014, here’s a quick look at some of the startup/tech events I attended in the course of the year, further validating that the startup momentum in Portugal is growing. Have a wonderful holiday season and to all a great and productive 2015. Let’s continue to support (mentor, advise, consult with, assist, connect and fund) the growing list of startups in Portugal and connect all the more in 2015 with other startup communities around the world.

Startup Pirates Lisboa 4th Edition – February 2014

Shark Tank Session

Shark Tank session during Startup Pirates 4th Edition.

If you know a Pirate, you know this game.

If you know a Pirate, you know this game. Look who is leading the charge!

Lisbon Challenge Spring ’14 Investment Summit – July 2014

Mike Butcher presenting at The Lisbon Challenge Investment Summit.

Mike Butcher from TechCrunch presenting at The Lisbon Challenge Investment Summit.

One of the many solid pitches during #LIS - Pharm Assistant.

One of the many solid pitches during #LIS – Pharm Assistant.

33 Entrepreneurs Comes To Lisbon – July 2014

Andre Ribeirinho presenting at 33 Entrepreneurs. #Adegga

Andre Ribeirinho presenting at 33 Entrepreneurs. #Adegga

Startup Weekend Coimbra (Special Guest surfer Garrett McNamara)

A great weekend mentoring a diverse group of startups in Coimbra!

A great weekend mentoring a diverse group of startups in Coimbra!

Startup Weekend Coimbra.

Dinner with the Startup Weekend Coimbra team.

The Lisbon Challenge Fall ’14 – September thru December 2014

The Lisbon Challenge Fall '14.

The calm before the storm – getting ready to welcome The Lisbon Challenge Fall ’14 team!

The Lisbon Challenge Fall '14 Coaching Team.

The team of Lisbon Challenge Coaches during a Q&A session.

Bia from Planedia pitching for the 1st time at The Lisbon Challenge.

Bia from Planedia pitching for the 1st time at The Lisbon Challenge.

YCombinator LC Fall 14

YCombinator comes to The Lisbon Challenge and a great Q&A session.

Mentoring at The Lisbon Challenge.

My final mentoring session of The Lisbon Challenge with James Muscat from Moviinn.

A startup panel on 'Celebrating Success & Failure' with Limetree, Uniplaces and MyChild.

Moderating a startup panel on ‘Celebrating Success & Failure’ with Limetree, Uniplaces and MyChild.

Startup Lisboa Takeoff – November 2014

Startup Lisboa Takeoff - such a GREAT event. Great pitches, networking and crowd.

Startup Lisboa Takeoff – such a GREAT event. Great pitches, networking and crowd.

Startup Lisboa Holiday Party – December 2014

It's award time at the holiday party hosted by Startup Lisboa with João Vasconcelos and Graça Fonseca getting the final awards. And yes, I did understand the final words (in Portuguese).

It’s award time at the holiday party hosted by Startup Lisboa with João Vasconcelos and Graça Fonseca getting the final certificates. And yes, I did understand most of the final words (in Portuguese).

The great team from Startup Lisboa! Thanks for all you do.

The hardworking team from Startup Lisboa! Thanks for all you do.

 Two of the Top 10 Lisbon Challenge teams at Bar 104 (where else) in Bairro Alto!

The Lisbon Challenge Fall '14

Celebrating with Challengers!

And that’s a wrap of a year with a lot of great work, networking, mentoring and coaching!

Startup events in Portugal.

Yup, that was a good year of startup activity!

Hope you enjoyed this little walk down startup memory lane and have a very joyful new year!

All the best,


– Photo credit for the Startup Weekend Coimbra group photo goes to their photographer and the #LIS14 panel photo goes to Beta-i. All other images belong to Sandra Sick. 

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What Happens Inside a Startup Accelerator Program – A Coaches Viewpoint.

Startup accelerator programs, of which there are now more than 1,000 such programs in Europe alone, offer entrepreneurs a fixed-term, cohort-based program that includes coaching, mentoring, educational components, network building and culminates in a public pitch or demo day. These programs are ALL about acceleration! Accelerating the business plan and the focus of the team as well as the network and ultimately moving the team forward – faster. And there’s the investment opportunities as well!

These are the final hours of The Lisbon Challenge Fall 2014 Edition, which is the third program to date. And the Lisbon Investment Summit (#LIS14) is the final pitch for all the participating teams as well as some alumni. The pressure is on to get to the top 10 of the group!

Coaching Panel for The Lisbon Challenge, September 2014

Coaching Panel for The Lisbon Challenge, September 2014

For the first 2 Lisbon Challenges I was a mentor and would meet with a team once, maybe twice throughout the 3-month program. I’d quickly address their questions that were more often than not, marketing-related as this is my background. In this edition of The Lisbon Challenge I have been working closely with 5 teams as a coach and mentor to numerous other teams. Each of the five coaches (refer to picture) were partnered with an instructor so each startup had access to a lot of different knowledge and input on a weekly basis.

So as I write this, the five teams I have worked with are taking care of their final preparations to present what will likely be the best pitch of their lives. A lot has happened in our weekly meetings, with a great deal of follow-up, sharing knowledge and contacts and a good amount or practice on the pitches so I’m anxious for the pitches to start!

I wish all the Lisbon Challenge teams the best for this final day of this program and I’m grateful to have met a really good group of people from many different countries. Social media, especially TWITTER, will keep us connected as we all move beyond this weekly routine and I look forward to hearing the progress and success stories from the teams as we move into 2015.

It’s been great being your coach (and mentor) and thanks to the hard-working team at Beta-I for extending this opportunity to me and to my fellow instructor teammate Bashara Hinnawi!

Happy Holidays friends,


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Q4 (already) and my 4 C’s!

My 4 C's

My 4 C’s

Just the other day, as in last Friday, it certainly seemed like the perfect summer day in Lisbon, Portugal and now I find myself shutting the windows and thinking about wearing warmer clothing. It is October so I should not push my luck for an even longer and nicer summer. At this time of the year, when the season starts to change, it makes me think of the final stretch of the year. I really focus on those things that I want to accomplish before the year gets sucked into the final weeks of holiday joy and cheer and before the new year cycle starts again! For the last 90 days of 2014, I am focused on my 4 C’s;

Consulting + Coaching + Coimbra + Coursera (and OK, Christmas, so 5 C’s)


I am working with some new clients and as usual I am speaking to potential new clients and networking in search of new projects. And I always seem to have some involvement with past clients who still reach out for additional marketing input and support. There has been a lot of startup activity in Lisbon nearly the entire year but again, another wave of interesting events (Seedcamp came to town for the 3rd time as well as The Caixa Tech Tour) place in the last month. I continue to meet new people and look for opportunities where I can add value to the marketing strategy and execution of a company. If you need help with your company, brand, product and/or event or have a contact that requires some marketing guidance, let’s talk. Feel free to visit my website for more details on how I can possibly help your marketing and business development efforts.


Second on the list is coaching. I have been asked by the team at Beta-I to join The Lisbon Challenge (already in its 3rd edition) as a coach. The Lisbon Challenge officially kicked off a week ago and 20+ startups from Portugal and a number of other countries are in Lisbon for a very focused 90-day acceleration program. Each startup has had input into the instructor/coach team that meets with them weekly to ensure that the individual team progress throughout the 3-month program.

Coaching Panel for The Lisbon Challenge, September 2014

Coaching Panel for The Lisbon Challenge, September 2014

This coaching opportunity is all the more challenging but exciting as it’s a longer commitment and an opportunity to work much closer with startups. I am coaching five teams of which three are from Portugal, one from India and one from Spain. The sectors are very different and the teams are at different stages of their development.

The Lisbon Challenge has received an impressive number of applicants and the program is getting more and more support from the Portuguese Government, sponsors, the Portuguese and European startup ecosystem as well. Plus the top team go on a very impressive roadshow after the event wraps up. If you are looking for an acceleration program, definitely consider The Lisbon Challenge.


I have been asked to join Startup Weekend Coimbra as a mentor for their event on October 10-12th. The agenda is action packed for the intensive weekend program and the list of speakers, judges and mentors will offer a wide range of expertise to the startups involved.

This will be my first time in Coimbra and I know it is an important city in Portugal. Coimbra is often referred to as The City of Students mainly because it is the site of the oldest and one of the largest universities in Portugal. The origins of the University of Coimbra can be traced back to the 13th century!

I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what is happening in the startup community in Coimbra.


I am a big fan of online learning and Coursera in particular. At any given time I am taking a class or registered for one and most everything is related to enhancing my consulting business and knowledge with the exception of a brilliant world history class I took through Princeton University. I just started the first week of what looks to be a very interesting class entitled; Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies. It’s really starting out to be an insightful look back on how to really grow entrepreneurship in a city, how to create jobs and better productivity, how this all changes a city and what results and statistics to measure.

Find out more about this class and others at;

And that brings me to my last C and my favorite holiday – Christmas. Yes, before we know it all the end of the year holiday activity will be upon us after a busy Q4. Here’s to wishing you a productive end of the year that will leave you feeling accomplished and ready for the new year. Thanks for reading and for sharing!

Many regards – Sandra Sick (Twitter @SandraSick)

PS: There is a TEDx happening in Lisbon on October 18th for those interested in the theme of education. Check out the agenda at:

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