While traveling in Lisbon, I attended two meetups for entrepreneurs. This is my first peek into the entrepreneurial side of Lisbon.
Things I Heard
- It's mostly foreigners who go to meetups in Lisbon. There are a lot of them and they speak English.
- If a foreigner straight up buys €500,000 worth of real estate property, they can get the Portuguese Golden Visa, and are eligible for citizenship in 4 years. The property can be sold afterwards.
- No capital gain tax on crypto.
- Schengen zone is only open to visitor for 90 days. But if you are American, you can stay longer and nobody will give you trouble unless you go to Switzerland where you might get fined.
- Regular bars only carry one selection of beer, it just says beer on the menu.
Juan has been in Lisbon for 3 years and is working on New Socks City, a brand for socks that are made from waste materials in the ocean. I support this idea because it promotes sustainability with a commercial product. I also learnt renting a store front in Lisbon is expensive and Juan is also organizing a pop-up market for Lisbon makers to showcase their products. The problem Juan faced talking to the consumers is the conversation quickly descends from saving the ocean to how much the product costs, therefore, Juan is working on a new marketing strategy to get the sustainability message across and escape the commodity narrative.
Ben just moved to Lisbon with a mission, putting down the head quarter for his project, Datastake. Today, it's difficult to know what is happening on the ground in Africa. Data is scarce, and the public outlet is monopolized by a few journalists. This is a barrier for businesses and NGOs to research and track their projects. As a response, each organization hires a field expert to travel to the location interested, talk to the locals, and write a report (Ben worked as an expert). Datatake is a SaaS solution that breaks this silo and improves access to quality data. Datastake is already helping organizations extract structured machine readable data, and the next step is to establish a market place where the data can be sold to other organizations. Ben worked with contractors for a few iterations on the prototype, but he needs to put down a head quarter and hire business analysts, product designers, etc, to make a complete team. He likes that Portugal has a low corporate tax rate, he prefers just paying the tax rather than being forced to use all kinds of tricks to evade tax like in France (and Canada). Datastake has organic profit, but Ben needs investments to grow faster, because a large player can drop in and make him irrelevant.
Richard is a active meetup organizer in Lisbon, you will likely run into him if you come here. Richard is a successful entrepreneur having created 35 companies, out of which 13 are still running with 100M total revenue. Of the 13 is on robotic warehouse automation, e.g. moving shelves vertically to eliminate empty head room, clients are industrial processors who store metal sheets in bulk. I respect Richard because he offers to help new comers with connections. Two quotes from Richard:
Choose business partners carefully, you are stuck with them for a very long time, and a bad relationship will create a mountain of pain.
Don't under value yourself, if you work as a software engineer, you are in demand as a potential co-founder.
Lenka has a youtube channel Chica Czecha focused on education because people from all over the word were asking her how she got into this very competitive Swedish graduate program on innovation. I told her how I tried and failed to create youtube contents many times, and we agreed having a content creation presence on the internet is such a valuable asset to an entrepreneurial career.
Riko sold a DNA testing company to a PE and is now a resident entrepreneur in an incubator. He is working on estimating carbon footprint in the supply chain, so that manufacturers can better gauge their environmental impact.
Brandon (New Jersey)
Brandon sold a ed-tech company and is working on a start up that provides the complete high school education online. Interestingly, some Finnish high school are already completely online, and the Finns are proud of it. But some EU countries are banning home schooling, so the future of the industry is uncertain.
Lourenco is a undergrad in University of Lisbon, he works in the student entrepreneurship association. They both do contract work for local companies, e.g. Thales / Unbabel, and create startups that compete for incubators, e.g. Denium / European innovation academy. We were talking about my passion of improving the first year education of engineering programs for universities, and I said I struggled to think of a business model. Lourenco told me to focus on the problem, do more research and clearly define the problem, then share with people. He said business model is not important and should be an after thought. He claimed it's a well known entreperneurship process. I think this makes sense. Lourenco also said education in Portugal is mostly free, it's a good place to raise kids, but young people are trying to get out of Portugal and the population is aging. He wants to move to the Netherlands.
Student from the association. Indie video game developer, creator of Idle Paladin.
Student from the association. Hardware startup on predictive maintenance for molding machines.
Graduate student from the university. Hardware startup on a device that helps blind people learn braille.
Owner of a wine business and other ventures. Moved to Lisbon right before Brexit to remain a EU person.