The Time is NOW!

What do you want the visitors at Web Summit to go away thinking about Lisbon, Portugal, the Portuguese?

  • Nice wine, nice weather?
  • Everyone was very friendly?
  • Great conference, I met a lot of awesome people from London and Berlin?

While the history and the ambience of this wonderful city may well impress them, to many visitors our early stage startup scene in Portugal will seem a very poor cousin to their own. 

What might impress them?

  • Ideas, talent and money in action,
  • Finding great investment opportunities,
  • Meeting a lot of startup junkies who ping from a failure to their next adventure sure in the knowledge that experience counts. 

What won't impress them? 

  • Exchanging endless business cards, which will never warrant or receive a follow up,
  • 'Me too' ideas,
  • Being arbitrarily pitched for money, 
  • Unsubtle pitching for jobs (to leave Portugal).

What will really impress them? ATTITUDE!

I believe everyone has a startup idea in them, but I know not everyone will get around to the moment where they try to make it happen. Some stuff I hear that drives me crazy:

  • I'm not technical. I can't even code.
  • Nobody takes my idea seriously because I'm a/an x...
  • It's not the right time for me. I'm more concerned with my career/pay rise/holiday/mortgage (delete where applicable)
  • I'm too introverted to be an entrepreneur

For many these perceived realities are as far as they will ever get on their startup journey. This is such a pity, because for each and every barrier someone puts in their own way, there is a way around it, over it or through it. For each and every reason to not do something there has been a successful person or indeed 100+ successful people that have overcome the same reason and gone on to triumph. The answer (or that person) may well be in Brazil or Boston or somewhere that is not Lisbon but it is there and it can be found, learnt from and built upon. 

It just takes one thing to make it as an entrepreneur - the sheer will to do so. 

Every single person has the ability to switch that on. Every single person is born equal with that one. Every single person can take a look at themselves, find what they are good at, what value they add and then compensate for the rest with a great team or taking a different direction to what others call 'the route to success'. Every single person can explore their own destiny through their own dreams. 

If you ever thought that you wanted to do a startup someday, that day is now.

With more focus on startups than ever before - by the government, by the media and by the economists there has never been a more favourable time, a more incentivised time, or a more welcoming time. 

Web Summit will also be a catalyst to make something amazing happen. For one week in November, Lisbon will take a giant leap forward in its startup evolution. For that short time it will have a startup ecosystem the envy of the world. A rich, diverse, cornucopia of talent, money and ideas, a buzz with serendipity and opportunity. 

So, take a look at your own Lisbon and think about it from a visitors perspective. What works and what doesn't in your neighbourhood. What will make visitors go "WOW"!" and what will make them go "Ouch!"? See where those pleasure and pain points might yield a new startup - tech or non tech. They are there.

If you are in any doubt at all about how to find your startup idea, this is how to begin: Find something that "pisses you off" and fix it. Then find lots of people that "look like you" and sell it to them.

For more information, take a look at:

  • Wine With a View,
  • Knok,
  • We Roll
  • Talkdesk

Imagine Lisbon with 5000 startups. Imagine Portugal with seed funds for 5000 more. Imagine startup teams migrating here from Boston, Bangalore, San Francisco, London and Berlin. Imagine Portuguese startups expanding (not relocating) to UK, USA, India and China. 

Now we are getting somewhere. Now we are an ecosystem. Now we are making something really special happen here. 

If we can make this magic happen then it will be good for the city, good for the region, good for the country, good for our families and good for each other. 

To explore is in the Portuguese DNA. To journey into the unknown, create new economies and have amazing adventures is at the heart of the history to the city of Lisbon. Here we are on the cusp of writing new history and as is often the way, very few people have realised that they are in the middle of it. 

For all of us our time is now. Your time is now! Do it! Take a leap into the unknown, uncertain world and make the future of Portugal bright through living an innovative, rocket fueled startup life. Over the next 6 months do everything you can to make Web Summit the platform to #liveyourdreams. 


Stewart Noakes