Why set up a Startup in Portugal

(without stating the obvious)

Why wouldn’t you, really?! Even if you’ve never thought about it, here’s your chance to find out why Portugal is the place to be if you have a startup. Sure, Portugal’s sunny and it has a really good quality of life — but that’s just stating the obvious, and we’re not here to do that. We’re here to let you know what the future holds and why you shouldn’t miss the big bang of the Portuguese startup scene.

Truth is, we couldn’t be writing about startups in Portugal 10 or 15 years ago. In fact, the Portuguese startup scene has gained traction only over the last few years — but that doens’t mean you should just ignore it and go after the major hubs. In Portugal, you’ll find growing ambition and creativity in the young revolutionaries of today, and that’s not just because of the economic crisis. Over these last few years, many people have gathered in order to create a new ecosystem which focuses on sharing knowledge and taking risks without the fear of failure as an ultimate disaster.

A new generation of entrepreneurs who happen to be tech-savvy

Thanks to those early revolutionaries, today we can write about the Portuguese startup scene and be proud of it. Today we can say that we have a strong and fast growing ecosystem. Lisbon is compared to Berlin because it has amazing developers willing to leave the corporate world and join a startup instead. You have many startups coming from Portugal who have been to YCombinator and Seedcamp, such as Unbabel, Orankl and Impraise.

Lisbon is compared to Berlin because it has amazing developers willing to leave the corporate world and join a startup instead.

That being said, we can understand the importance of the ecosystem for each and every startup. In Portugual, the most powerful tool is, in fact, within the “community”. The Portuguese startup community is not huge and there are many opportunities to get everyone together and share insights, knowledge and feedback. This ecosystem feeds itself as a cycle: the early comers are now mentors or advisors and the rookies of today will make the ecosystem stronger tomorrow. João Romão, CEO at Get Social, says that one of the main positive sides of the Portuguese Startup scene is this “hype around startups, because 10 years ago there was no such thing as small, young companies owned by young professionals — but things have changed”. Today we can witness a new generation of entrepreneurs and you can easily find ambitious people dreaming about making unique and remarkable things, risking it all and going for the home run.

Portugal with a global mindset

Portugal is also becoming an international ecosystem with some great accelerator programmes, incubators and startup initiatives such as Beta-i, Startup Lisboa, Startup Braga and Startup Pirates. Foreign startups are moving to Portugal to fine tune and jump-start their businesses and that is only possible with a strong and friendly environment like the one we have. And that is not just limited to Lisbon, as it spreads all the way up North, where you’ll find strong tech based communities in Porto and Braga. Thanks to the high quality of some Portuguese universities when it comes to tech professionals like IST, FEUP, Universidade do Minho and Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal is becoming one of the hottest hubs for tech startups in Europe.

What the future holds

As Vasco Pedro (CEO at Unbabel) states “Portugal is a lot like California. Even geographically. We don’t need to re-create Silicon Valley in Portugal, but we need to have the same kind of successes. Having more startups and let these startups be recognized”. Portugal is creating its own powerful ecosystem in case you haven’t realized. We’re bringing to light interesting ideas and letting dreamers become makers by giving them the perfect conditions to start up: talent, space, community and international exposure.

We’re bringing to light interesting ideas and letting dreamers become makers by giving them the perfect conditions to start up: talent, space, community and international exposure.

Wondering what can be improved in the future? Well, we would stick with Ricardo Marvão’s points: “we need to bring more international players to the scene, such as Y Combinator and SeedCamp, and more international investors. And finally, we need more Portuguese startups going global”.

Come and be part of this. Great minds can but don’t necessarily think alike!


Originally published at startupship.org on February 12, 2015.