It’s not been easy to be south of the Alps and claim that you are on par with tech and start-up scenes like London, Berlin, Stockholm and Helsinki. Media reporting on recession, government bailouts and ramping unemployment, has laden the image of the Mediterranean countries. But there is one city that is showing great signs of a vibrant start-up and tech talent scene, and that’s the beautiful city of Lisbon in Portugal.
I’ve recently spent a lot of time in Lisbon advising tech companies in building their growth strategies and articulating their investor pitches. Not only am I impressed by the deep technical know-how and innovation in Portugal, but also by the work ethics and strong resilience in a recent financial market that has been hammered by the toughest of recessions. Instead, many tech startups have used the situation to build new companies from a competitive cost basis, and explored large Portuguese-speaking countries like Brazil, Angola and Mozambique as expansive and emerging markets.
One of the best working state funded VC firms is also located in Lisbon, which is Portugal Ventures (PV).
Those who know me, also knows that I’m not a big fan of European national state-run VC funds, many who have ended up with far too many non-performing companies in their portfolios.
PV has done a stellar job in focusing on portfolio companies that have global growth potential to attract VC investments or find M&A exists, offering practical support through US-based incubation facilities, both in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Boston, MA. I had the pleasure of working with one of their companies last year called AnubisNetworks, one of the worlds best Cyber Threat Intelligence companies. The result was a successful M&A exit with an American acquirer. I expect many more to follow in their footsteps as people realize the amazing tech talent in Portugal.
But it’s not just PV doing a great job supporting tech companies in Portugal with investments and a bridge to the hot US markets, but a number of high quality incubators/accelerators who have seen recent successes in both VC funding and M&A exits. I recently met with Gonçalo Amorim who heads up one of the most successful one called BGI (Building Global Innovators). BGI is promoted by Lisbon University and MIT Portugal Program in partnership with MIT Cambridge, MA. Gonçalo Amorim was recently named at one of the HotTopics 100 leaders in acceleration in the world, alongside David Cohen of TechStars (London), Paul Graham, Y Combinator (California) and Dave McClure 500 Startups (California).
So maybe its time for northern Europe’s entrepreneurs and investors to head south to not just discover a city that looks and feels like San Francisco with its hills, bridges, beaches and wine districts, but is extremely affordable and offers great tax breaks for expats. But most of all, Lisbon is the new hot-bed in Europe for creating outstanding tech companies not just in internet, mobile and cloud computing but also in med-tech, smart cities, industrial design and environmental solutions.
Maybe this is also why the organisers of the Web Summit, one of the fastest-growing technology conferences in the world, recently announced that the event would move from its home in Dublin to Lisbon, Portugal in 2016
This week, the Digital Tech Summit run by the TechTour and International Venture Club is taking place in Lisbon, adding further evidence that Lisbon is the place to pay attention to if you are in tech!
If you are an entrepreneur or investor and want to know more about Lisbon, and need an intro into the Portuguese tech-scene people, just let me know and I’d be happy to help.