Startup Lisboa is a startup incubator providing all kinds of support to entrepreneurs in the Lisbon area. They have produced many success cases, as you will find out in this interview with their Executive Director, João Vasconcelos.
How did the idea come about to create a startup incubator in Lisbon?
The creation of Startup Lisboa is a measure approved in the Participatory Budget (www.lisboaparticipa.pt) launched by the Municipality of Lisbon, since it was one of the promoted and most voted ideas by the citizens. Also, Startup Lisboa is part of the economy and innovation local strategy of the Lisbon Municipality to revitalize the social fabric in the city center, by creating a new social dynamic enhanced by the community of young entrepreneurs, job creation and the attraction of international companies. We’re doing that through the rehabilitation of buildings in partnership with private entities for the installation of incubation spaces with special access to entrepreneurs.
How important is it to have the support of Lisbon’s City Council?
Since the begining the support of the Municipality is very important. Lisbon was the first City Hall realizing that local government has the power to enhance the economical tissue of the cities by creating the conditions for the development of new businesses that improve the life of the citizens, promotes the creation of jobs and the economical growth of the country. Since we started, two years ago, we’ve been receiving requests from other municipalities all over the country to help and share our vision and incubation model with them.
What can startups expect when working with you?
We support the creation of companies and track their first years of activity. Our incubation model is based on mentoring, link to strategic partners, access to angel investors, venture capital or loan funds, help with business basics, networking activities, communication and work spaces. As an incubator, our aim is to provide our entrepreneurs with office space at reasonable rents as well as a support structure, to maximize their chances for success. We do not charge them any additional money to be part of our family and we do not take any equity either.
Can we say that Lisbon is already a startup hub?
Our business is supporting startups and providing them with a hub where they can exchange experiences and startup know-how. Our aim is to provide them with the platform where they can not only learn from mentors, but also learn to help one another. Something which was previously not very common in Portugal.
What are some of the success stories you’ve had?
One of ours biggest achievement is the fact that, in one year, we had seven of our companies selected by Seedcam, one of the most demanding and prestigious seed funding and accelerator program in the world, based in London: CrowdProcess, Codacy (Qamine), Hole19, SimpleTax, Cashtag, Zercatto and Popcorn Metrics.
Companies like SimpleTax, which started in Lisbon, now have a team in London. Codacy, Hole19 and Crowdprocess are always in and out of Startup Lisboa, flying to either London, San Francisco or Germany for example. The Portuguese Seedcamp teams have attracted investment from foreign investors, which also helps place Portugal on the map and serve as an example, that a startup doesn’t always have to be in Silicon Valley to find great investors. Other success stories are Muzzley, Zaask, Nata Lisboa, among others.
Find out more about Startup Lisboa at http://startuplisboa.com