July 5, 2011: Startup Pirates Launch Party

What I’ve learned in the 4 years of Startup Pirates

If you are reading this blog post, you probably already know that I’m leaving Startup Pirates to join TOPDOX as Growth Lead.

This is a big change for me and this past holidays, I spent some time thinking about my biggest learnings after 4 (and something) years of Startup Pirates. Most of them sound like the usual cliché, but the truth is, this is what I feel, so here they are!

Learning 1: Be open, vocal, and share your progress

At Startup Pirates, we always try to share with the world what we are doing, why we are doing it and what is the result and impact. I remember back in January 2013 when we launched our first Startup Pirates Annual Report. We received amazing feedback and people were very surprised with our openness and transparency. We did it because it felt right and because more than anything we are co-creating a community of aspiring entrepreneurs and when you are building a community, transparency and openness are keystones.

We are open about our successes, but we are also very open about our failures. Over the years, we launched a few projects that didn’t go as we planned. Most of them failed because we didn’t commit enough time and resources to make them succeed. We wrote about it, we talked about it and we never shied away from assuming our own failures.

Learning 2: It’s all about the people!

October 2014: Startup Pirates Organisers Reunion

If I would select just one thing from my experience at Startup Pirates it would be the people I met over the years.

Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.
— Holstee Manifesto

Since 2011, I travelled the world, met incredible people everywhere I went, felt inspired, challenged and learned a ton in-between. I can’t really put down in words how blessed and lucky I feel, by each and every person I met over these past 4 years.

Nonetheless, I want to thank two people in particularly: Rafael & Daniela. Over the years, we worked together day by day, side by side. We learned together, we celebrated together and we grew together. Our skills are complementary, our values and vision are very similar and our work ethic is the same. Thank you, Rafael and Daniela for everything we did together. I have the feeling that we will be working together again in the future. :)

Learning 3: Start Small

If anyone would tell me in 2011 that Startup Pirates, in 2015, would be in 20 countries/40 cities all around the world I would probably laugh at them. Back in 2011 when Rafael, Daniela, João, Ariana and I started playing with the idea of creating Startup Pirates we never image that we would be here now. In the beginning our focus was: Let’s organize Startup Pirates @ Porto in September 2011 and then let’s see how it goes. It went well and since then it has been growing year after year.

Learning 4: Be curious & always learning

Team picture from a long time ago

Everywhere around the world, the startup scene has evolved a lot over the years. We went from nothing to an industry where plenty of organisations support entrepreneurs and startups in different ways.

While we were confident about the quality of the Startup Pirates program, we kept on being curious about what was happening out there and learning from the best. We evolved as individuals, our program got better, our services improved and our commitment to support entrepreneurs and startups kept on growing. That’s why things turned out well for us.

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
 — Albert Einstein

With time, people lose their innate curiosity. I fight everyday to keep mine and never stop learning.

Learning 5: Be naive

You may be asking yourself. Why should I be naive?! If we weren’t naive we would have never started Startup Pirates or the Startup Exchange Program or Startup Tour or more recently PortugalStartups.com. We were naive to believe we could do it. We were naive to believe we could succeed. We were naive to believe it was easy. But in the end, after all those ups and downs, I kind of think we actually made it!

Learning 6: Enjoy yourself

At Startup Pirates I had a great time every single day. How could I not to? I was working with amazing people, on exciting projects, meeting awesome new people everyday and seeing the results of our hard work. There were awesome days, good days, ok days and some bad days, but if I look back I’m privileged to say that I had a huge amount of awesome days.

This experience at Startup Pirates shaped my personal and professional life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but now I feel it’s time for new challenges!

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