My see you soon message
While sitting at my new living room I realized that I never said goodbye, I never stopped to write a proper see you soon message. To me it feels like leaving the house to buy cigarettes and not showing up for dinner. Like my great friend Domingos says I pulled a Houdini. So this blogpost is my short but heartfelt goodbye message to all of you, who I care about.
I started my still young career in a company that owned a small office in the center of Porto, back then the mobile was starting and we were one of the first ones to tackle it in a multi platform way. I remember my first day, I was welcomed with a huge list of bugs on an opera widget application that had been developed on top of a custom framework made by the guys that left the company right before I arrived. This made me think about a career change in less than a week. I was not made for that. I can’t make it, I thought. I can’t understand shit. It was when I realized that things happen for a reason. By having to study multi platform mobile tools I started to become more and more interested in Mobile. And by the end of my stay at the company I had met my entrepreneur friends that believed in me, that wanted me to succeed, that pushed me to accept my next challenge without keeping me from departing. Thank you all Blip.pt crew, all the Jimmy Boys, thank you Andre, thank you Frederico. Because of all of you I was able to develop what became the first mobile version of the Mobitto platform.
Mobitto, my first failure, so many stories to tell. Starting from not knowing my cofounder in person before arriving to Madrid for the Startup Bootcamp accelerator, to living in a one bedroom apartment with two other people, struggling to cope with 42 degree summer in the city. We coded 2 versions of the app in less than 3 months, while finding it difficult to get partners to test and struggling to understand the true meaning of Marketplace or a B2C play. We made it through the program without any investment, without product market fit and without an actual team. Everything seemed lost but we had a guy called Jose that doesn’t quit that easily and when we came back to Portugal, we found another guy that as it turned out doesn’t quit that easily either, who opened the door of Startup Lisboa to a number of companies: Mobitto, Uniplaces, Hole19 amongst many others. Thank you Joao Vasconcelos. If you have any doubts about this man, let me tell you a story: all the startups in that building didn’t have any money raised yet, in our case Jose and I, we were living with help from our family and with a few savings of our own, so we didn’t had money to pay our office rent. Joao never asked for it, he knew he would get it, he just didn’t want to force us to pay, he wanted the startups to be focused on growth, on raising, on making the startup reality in Portugal an actual reality.
We raised money after a while and to be honest that was a mistake by all parts, we all assume that now, but then it seemed like a good move, we got a good cash injection and could continue to build a product, that looking back had no change of survival, due to several conditions, low retention and slow conversion being the biggest ones. This is said because these two metrics are hard to get but easy to track, and either you have them or you don’t. With these two you can’t fake till you make it, either you have them ( even if just a signal ) or take your project to the back of the barn and shoot it. We pivoted, we pivoted again, we got an investment from Cristiano Ronaldo, we pivoted again, we changed the team multiple times. Nothing worked. I tried and I failed, I left the company, I left my friends and most of all, I realized that I was a fraud, I learnt but who was I to teach, who was I to go from conference to conference and teach people? A fraud that deserved to hear what people were saying.
It was then that I met the guy that changed my profissional life: Alexandre Barbosa was starting a new project called Faber Ventures. I met him during a Startup Lisboa Juri meeting. Again I accepted to be a juri because Joao Vasconcelos told me once, “ I know you are not the best, but you are my very best at the moment “ . Alexandre invited me to visit Faber, I went there to talk with the team, and told them I would bring a long a friend who was visiting me. When we arrived at the office they had a box of cakes ready for her to eat while waiting for me. That was it. The conversation, the cakes, I was in. I wanted to work with that team. After two weeks came the official invite and one month later I was joining the team as a mobile developer. I worked on one of the first versions of Gleam that back then was based on Parse, another interesting challenge. Back then we started to ideate, develop new concepts, build new products. It was like I could fast forward my life 3 and half years and everything is still the same. The best experience of my professional life. Mainly because of the people I met on the way. Luis, Maria, Alexandre, Rui, Ricardo, Felix, Marcelo, Ivan, Joao, Bruno, Marcia, Will, David, Sofia and Paulo.
In the end, it wasn’t about the challenge or the people. I wanted to seek for something new, the type of challenge that gets me uncomfortable, the type of challenge that pushed me out of my comfort zone, that takes me to a different country and a different company where I need to fight to find my space again. That’s why I left, that’s why I came to Amsterdam and joined Booking.com, thats why I will work on a team that is tackling what to me will be the next 10 years for technology.
One day I will come back home to help and build many other products. I hope. Not just yet…. On a side note for my friends in Portugal, hope you get my point: Space, time and context are important, but metrics, you can’t fake metrics, at least for long!