Olisipo Way (more ahead) was one of the first two investors in Pedro’s Hunter Boards. And every time I spoke with Pedro, he kept saying great things about them; how they are moved by purpose, how they support entrepreneurs, the richness of their community, and so on.
Sometime after, I ran into my friend Nuno Sobral, another Olisipo Way community member who said the same things. Two trusted sources saying the same? I had to know more.
I started to pay more attention to them, listened to their podcast Bitalk (Portuguese only), and one episode in particular, on purpose, sparked my curiosity even more, so I decided to move forward with this interview.
One thing that fascinates me about Tocha’s life story is the diversity of businesses, projects, people, and ideas he interconnects — it’s an authentic reinvention engine.
I have never been with Tocha in person, but the moment you cross eyes with him, even in a call, you sense he’s an infinite player — the ones that play for the thrill of it, not to win but to play better games.
I don’t know what the future will unfold for someone exposed to such diversity, but I do not doubt that his story, built on solid ties, will open your eyes to a different approach to life and business.
Bird’s Eye View
Can you give us a glimpse of your life story?
I started working from a very young age and finished my degree while working part-time in the technology space. So, after finishing my telecommunications degree, I had already set up the path to start working on True-Kare, a tech startup focusing on elderly telecare and telehealth. We were hardware manufacturers, which eventually led me to go live in China to oversee the manufacturing process. During the six years I worked as the CTO of this company, I learned a lot about building a business, managing teams, and finding partners and clients all over the world.
When I finally felt my mission was successful, I started working full-time in Olisipo Way, helping other companies to accomplish their goals and investing in ambitious entrepreneurs. Here, we build a community of founders and business executives running the 40+ companies in which Olisipo Way is a shareholder, either through investment, foundation, or co-foundation.
At Olisipo Way, we are not a typical VC fund. We don’t have LPs, so we don’t invest other people’s money. Instead, we are building a community of startups and profitable businesses that allows us to keep investing in more companies and bring immense value through the intersection of ideas, challenges, and solutions to all the founders and executives that form this incredible community.
We also started a purpose-driven business podcast in Portuguese — Bitalk. Our goal is to help entrepreneurs all over Portugal build better businesses and overall better life quality.
Speaking of life quality, I live in a 6 hectares permaculture farm (@lanterra), where we are planting a food forest applying sustainable techniques to regenerate the once abused land by intensive farming.
Sustainability and innovation are at the core of our values. Rebuilding the Cerdeira Village in the mountains of Lousã (cerdeirahomeforcreativity.com) where artists from all over the world come to work and be inspired gave us the experience we lacked to embark on our most ambitious adventure to date.
By joining our knowledge of rebuilding an ancient village, the experience of building innovative companies, the ability to nurture a community, and the understanding of applying sustainable techniques, another village, the Village of Silveira (silveiratech.community) is now becoming a reality.
What drives you?
Simply the joy of life and making stuff happen. I don’t separate family, kids, friends, personal projects, collective projects, hobbies, work to make money, work to have pleasure, people I meet, whatever. It’s all just life. All of it needs to be as enjoyable as possible. All are needed to have the balance I feel it needs to have at each moment of my life.
How was your experience living in China? And how strong are your ties with the country nowadays?
My experience in China was amazing. The people, the food (oh, the food), the feelings, and the Chinese culture is truly unique. I made a lot of friends and business partners and lived through experiences that, to this date, are valuable to my everyday life.
To this day, I still have solid ties to the manufacturing scene in the Guangdong province (especially Shenzhen), where I run a business (chinafacture.com) with some Chinese friends helping companies manufacture electronic devices at scale.
I also keep a solid pulse in Chinese state-of-the-art tech, businesses, and innovation. The lessons we have to learn from them are immense. Unfortunately, the western biases are still very strong, which opens a range of opportunities to spot significant trends that I can apply in Portugal.
Life and Business
You have an unconventional approach to business, where family and community play a major role. How does it work?
Fortunately, I was raised in a family where we mixed pleasure with business from a very young age. This attitude allowed us to create strong ties in the family where each of us could focus on what they were more passionate about doing. As a result, we have a diverse range of different businesses and projects where we all play different roles based on our personal goals. I can’t describe how it works since it is so intrinsically embedded in our way of life that it just feels natural. After all, who better than our family to support us and be there when we need it!?
Would you please tell us about the past, present, and future of the Cerdeira and Silveira villages?
Cerdeira was an abandoned village that we fell in love with a few years ago. After recovering a house with our own hands, we felt the need to bring more people to experience its amazing magical feeling. It’s a remote village in the mountains of Lousã, where we now accommodate visitors in fully equipped and beautifully decorated traditional schist houses. And where we are building a community of arts and crafts artists, providing them all the conditions and facilities to be inspired and creative. Cerdeira Home for Creativity is it’s name, and if you haven’t been there, please go :)
As I said before, all of these projects led us to our most ambitious project to date. Silveira Tech is about recovering a village abandoned for more than 70 years, with community, technology, and sustainability at its core.
Silveira Tech is an ambitious project for entrepreneurs and techies worldwide to gather in a re-generation tech village with more than 300 hectares of forest and accommodation for +100 people. With all the conditions to live, work, impact and grow a family, Silveira tech aims to become an intersection hub for anyone who believes that technology has given us the freedom to choose to live in authentic rural spaces, in symbiosis with nature, creating balance, value, and prosperity.
What is the main advice you give to young entrepreneurs?
Work on what you love. Too many entrepreneurs follow the hype trend and start businesses because they think they are trendy and will make a lot of money. We only have one life, and in today’s world, you can make any business a success. If you are working on something that you love, the path will be much easier, and your life will be happier.
Build a business that fits the lifestyle you want to have, not the other way around.
There are many ways to build a business, with more money, with less money, with more time, less time, with more or less stress. First, define how you want to live and what you want to be investing your time in. Building any business takes a lot of time, so invest your time in what you love and what makes you happy.
Learning and Reinvention
What does learning mean for you? And how do you learn?
Since the beginning of time, humanity has evolved from each generation’s mistakes. Therefore, we can’t blindly follow the rule of failing to learn.
Yes, we have to fail to learn, and yes, we learn more in failure than in success. These two assumptions are critical for not being afraid to try. But don’t be stupid by making the same mistakes other people have already made. Many people in this world have lived through a lot of errors. Instead of doing them again, learn from those people and adapt yourself to avoid them (or at least make different ones).
Learning is listening, so listen more than you talk. Learn to ask the right questions and hear the answers. Learn to change your opinion and admit you were wrong. Talk and learn from as many people as you can, and in the end, follow your gut and make your own decisions.
How have you reinvented yourself throughout life?
Since very young, I have always wanted to accomplish many different projects and objectives. However, to achieve that, I understood that I needed to surround myself with people I admired and that were better than me. In the OW community, we invest, help and work with people with the same values and who are better than us in what they do. On top of that, all the projects we are involved in are very different from each other, from HR, software development, and IT infrastructures to marketplaces, SaaS, food delivery, electric skateboards or insects, and mushroom production, to name a few. By connecting with all these passionate people, I have discovered paths, philosophies, beliefs, and knowledge that make me who I am today by learning from them. And I’m convinced that I will be a different person a few years from now than I am today. Because I know I will be reinventing myself until I die.
How do you cross-pollinate knowledge from one field to the other?
Working with so many talented people and projects is one of the things that makes me more accomplished. This richness allows me to have a broader vision of all the businesses and apply knowledge and experience from one project to another. I have the privilege of asking questions and listening carefully to all entrepreneurs and people I work with. I absorb all this information and apply it to other realities and situations.
We have a weekly community call of one hour every week, where the OW community members share experiences, ask questions, and generally talk about any subject that comes afloat. In each one of them, something valuable comes out from one project that can be applied to another, sometimes to projects that are not participating in the call at the moment. It’s my responsibility to be able to spot those opportunities. Thus, I need to be aware of what is happening in all of them.
Past and Future
Can you share some of the major lessons you learned in life?
Sharing, listening, accountability, and aligned incentives are the main objectives I pursue in the projects I’m involved in.
By projects, I mean everything in life. My family is a project, the place we live is a project, my wife is a project (heart emoji), and even my kids are projects. Maybe it isn’t the best word to use, but if you think about it, we set goals for everything, we have expectations and challenges for all we do. If our family and the things we love to do give us pleasure, our work should too. You can’t be going through life if you are unsure about what you want to do and where you want to go or being miserable doing something you hate. So focus on defining that first and then discover which paths you need to follow to accomplish them. Build the life you want. And then, ultimately, be patient, be persistent and enjoy each ride of your projects.
Which big questions do you have on your mind currently?
I’m consistently passionate about being involved in different projects and accomplishing many goals. Thus, I think a lot about the scalability of what I do. I know that most of what I do requires “people skills” and can’t be directly solved with technology. But as a tech enthusiast, I am convinced there is a lot of space to improve the way our communities and talents are shared and how we can be more accomplished and happy in our lives by doing what we are passionate about.
How do you face the future? Do you make plans for it?
I always try to be aware of my expectations for everything that I want to accomplish, and I am cautious when analyzing if a goal I have is an end by itself or just a means to get to something else. Unfortunately, our mind confuses us on purpose, and it’s easy to get lost on the rollercoaster we build in our societies.
I like to plan macro and keep the micro open to evolving. I have a set of goals I want to reach that range from family to work, and I have a plan in my head to achieve them. But, at the same time, I know that those plans are ready to be changed at any time with more knowledge and experiences I acquire.
A saying that has always stuck with me is “we gotta be ready to be prepared” which guides my plans for my life. It means that I always try to create the right circumstances and be in the right mindset to be prepared for anything that happens — and ultimately — to do what I want most in life: to enjoy life together with the people I love.