I just spent 9 weeks in Lisbon for a coding boot camp. First time I went to Lisbon was for Web Summit a few years ago. My takeaway from that first trip was a saying from a local a politician: “[Portugal] does not claim to be a Startup Nation. We told founders “come to Portugal,” see if you like it, you will have to go to the US for markets, to UK to raise money, and hire talents from abroad.”
People stayed for the lifestyle.
The government has been very pro active and launched a bunch of initiatives (incl. Open Data) to promote Portugal has a place for startups. I believe government can’t be leader — only feeders (if you haven’t read Startup Communities from Brad Feld, here is a collection of 25 quotes — that was one of the most useful book I read while writing a report on La French Tech for the French government.)
Local startups have found markets abroad. They had too. Founders I talked to listed the following as their markets (no specific order): US, Brazil, Germany, Spain and the UK (although some uncertainty moving forward because of Brexit.) France was not part of the list. I asked why. The answer: “too French.” 🥖😂
Portugal’s notable startups: Talkdesk (contact center software), Farfetch (fashion e commerce), Feedzai (financial crime);
There are 2 VCs in Portugal (excl. gov funds): Indico Capital (10+ investments, just closed a fund of €40 million) and Armilar (around since 2000, 40+ investments, €250 million AUM.)
Lisbon is becoming an increasingly trendy place for “digital nomads” to stop by. The city is walk-able, mostly sunny, there are a few coffee shops to work from, and surf. People come from the laid back southern European lifestyle.
Web Summit lead the movement of making Lisbon attractive — “Lisbon brand equity.”
Notable event beside Web Summit: “LIS” for Lisbon Investment Summit in June this year.
Techstars is opening an accelerator with Semapa, an industrial group operating in the paper, energy and cement sectors.
Lisbon is not necessarily the center of Portugal’s ecosystem. None of the 10+ investment of Indico Capital are in Lisbon.
Some large European companies like Revolut, Daimler, Wolkswagen, Zalando are picking Portugal to locate “tech centres.” “Google is coming as well.”
Salary for a junior developer is around EUR 20,000.
Some people I met: Stephan Morais (partner, Indico Capital), Andreia Campos (founder Gleam sold to Farfetch), Garpard Marcelin and Bruno Antunes Luis (Gaspard + Bruno), Pedro Oliveira (founder, Landing Jobs), Shannon and Emily (Le Wagon Lisbon), Mariana Barbosa (journalist, author), Mario Mouraz (Ambassador Sandbox, founder Climbers), James Muscat (Moviin.) Thanks.