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What makes Lisbon so attractive to startups
What makes Lisbon so attractive to startups

What makes Lisbon so attractive to startups

It’s no secret anymore that Lisbon is one of Europe’s up and coming places to be for entrepreneurs, startups and investors. As a communications professional working in the tech scene for over a decade, a few things struck me about Lisbon’s budding tech scene.

Why is there such a fascination with Lisbon from the tech community?

First of all, Lisbon is incredibly attractive to anyone who wants to build a business — the city is fertile ground for risk taking and entrepreneurship. In recent years, a new development model has started to unfold, with a clear Lisbon demonstrating a competitive advantage based on knowledge and innovation. The cost of living is much cheaper that in most other capitals in Western Europe. Combined with that — Portugal’s education system is exceptional — making for a fantastic pool of local talent at competitive prices and fluent in English. From developers to UX experts, through to designers, the entire country is packed with an ambitious multilingual and highly qualified youth.

Secondly, in recent years, Portugal and Lisbon in particular have significantly simplified the process of building a business, incentivizing people to launch their own enterprise. I experienced that firsthand when I opened my own PR consultancy for startups. It took me a couple of hours to open my activity. The same process would take days or weeks in other European countries. The Portuguese government’s newly nominated Minister of Industry Joao Vasconcelos and his stellar team are also working hand in hand with Lisbon’s startup community to make it even easier to setup, grow and scale a business out of Lisbon. Overall, Lisbon makes it easier to take risk here because the cost of risk taking, and of failing if one does, is much lower that in other cities.

Add to that — the amazing lifestyle that a beach city offers, with 2000 hours of sun per year and 6 months of steady good weather. Lisbon is strategically positioned in Europe, located just over two hours from London and Paris by plane. Portugal was also recently evaluated as one of the safest countries in Europe. The lifestyle is healthier; the city is smaller so people walk more, the weather allows for consumption of local, fresh produce. To be honest, why go to Warsaw or Berlin if you can enjoy the benefits of living in Southern Europe while building your business.

So what does Lisbon’s tech scene actually look like?

Well, it’s still in its infancy: With the exception of a few established businesses, from the ‘first generation’ of Lisbon startups — all winners in their field, such as UniplacesUnbabelChicByChoiceCodacy, or Talkdesk, the companies coming out of Lisbon are mostly still in a very early stage.

The money is young too. Lisbon’s Venture capital firms and business angels have been around for less than a decade and are funding companies at the early stages, writing smaller checks and taking higher risk to back national entrepreneurs. From Faber Venture and Portugal Ventures to Caixa Capital, most players have a hands on approach, a close ear to the ground and a fair advantage when it comes to spotting Lisbon’s startups first, and catching them before anyone else does, or so I’m told. The Lisbon scene has nonetheless also attracted a number of foreign early stage investors. Amongst them London based Hoxton Ventures and Notion Capital, and whole contingent of Paris-based VCs can regularly be found at Lisbon’s key yearly tech events such as the Lisbon Investment Summit, and GoYouth conference.

On top of that, the city is packed with accelerators and incubators that run incredibly high quality programs to help local entrepreneurs grow products from an idea to a first prototype. From Startup LisboaFabrica de Startupsand Beta-i, the city has a very high concentration of incubators per business which allows Lisbon to address the demand from most new startups. These incubators have managed to create impressive traction both nationally and internationally in only a few years and are attracting startups from across Europe and the globe. Programs are run 100% in English and the scene, hence, is very international.

The combination of incubators and local VC players have fostered a strong culture of co-working and knowledge sharing, with places like to Coworklisboa and Village Underground Lisboa popping up in town in the last couple of years. Lisbon offers its young startups exceptional mentorships. From tips on fundraising, to expansion, to legal advice, Lisbon’s incubation and acceleration programs manage to line up some outstanding advisors, and mostly for free.

Lisbon is neither the new Berlin or a mini San Francisco, it’s Lisbon!

People have been calling Lisbon the “new Berlin”, or a “mini San Francisco”. Lisbon offers the competitive advantages and attractivity that Berlin enjoyed 10 or 15 years ago, and as a result, it has been flooded with a steady stream of startups, either choosing the city as a starting base or deciding to relocate here to benefit from the fantastic entrepreneurial environment.

For those familiar with the Bay Area, Lisbon has an eerily similar vibe: from the hills, and tram downtown, to the bridge and estuary, and now the tech scene, anyone who knows San Francisco will be stunned by the similarities.

All things considered, Lisbon stands as a tech hub of its own. It’s still early days, so it’s hard to tell what expertise will come out of this hub and how it could be made to use by all. From consumer startups such as marketplaces, e-commerce platforms and mobile apps, to b2b businesses such as customer support technologies, analytics startups, hiring platforms and more, the city is bustling with creative ideas and we see all sorts of businesses incubating, graduating from various programs and launching from here. In the next 5 years we can expect to see this expertise and knowledge sharing consolidate into clusters and domain specific verticals. It’s certainly fascinating to witness the growth firsthand and a great time to be living in Lisbon!

How to write a good press release by yourself

A good press release will:

  1. share news
  2. that is interesting and appealing enough that media want to publish it
  3. to an audience of readers relevant to your business and
  4. that helps you meet your goals

Reasonable goals from media coverage may be to generate product interest and uptake, to increase your brand’s visibility, to build your company’s and its founders’ profile and so on.

In writing a press release you need to think of three main things:

  • The content — What is is that I’m announcing?
  • The structure — How am I conveying this?
  • The audience — To whom?

The content

A press release is as interesting as the news it delivers. Only news, real news deserves a press release. That includes for example, a product launch, a new market or region launch, or the availability of your product/service in new countries. Something you personally would want to read about if you picked up a newspaper.

Updates such as a website redesign, hiring a new head of HR, or having rewritten your core values are not newsworthy. These updates may, however deserve a post in your company blog.

The Structure

The impact of a press release depends a lot on its clarity and structure. There is no golden rule, but I’ve suggested below a structure that works well with reporters, and added some examples of wording where possible.

Title: Announces the news in a catchy and condensed way. Used as an email subject, makes a reporter want to open the email

Example: FoodTech startup A raises $YY in seed funding from VC 1, VC2 and angel investors

Subheader or three bullets: Shares main highlights of the story, conveys the momentum or trend around your news, and makes the reporter want to read further.

Example

  • Since its silent launch 6 months ago Startup A has already gained over 2000 users
  • Company to use funds to develop the product, recruit engineers and launch new markets.
  • Startup A aims to change the way people [vision/mission], a market estimated to have grown by XX% in the last year alone.

Opening paragraph: shares the entire news that you are announcing.
Example: Startup A, the first company to [… USP] announces today that it has raised $YY from VC 1, VC2 and angel investors A, B and C and launches out of beta. The company will use the funds to further develop its product, expand geographically, and hire engineering resources.

Next paragraphs: Further develop the story, give examples, numbers statistics and quotes from the main parties involved.

Example:

Paragraph 2: product description + company statistics and or market statistics

Paragraph 3: quote from the founder highlighting what the announcement means to the company + the company vision and mission.

Paragraph 4: Quote from other stakeholders if there are any.

Paragraph 4 or 5 : end on an opening such as the company’s last announcement, an industry statistic to show the size of the opportunity, etc.

The audience

When you write a press release, it’s key to keep your main audience in mind. You actually have two audiences: the press that you would like to see covering your announcement and the readers that buy or browse those publications.

Media: Your press release needs to contain information relevant to the media you are sending it to, and often, it’s more than one type of media. A tech reporter is interested in product descriptions, the disruptive potential of a new technology, whereas a business reporter will want numbers such as the market size, your company’s growth, number of users, etc.

The end readers: in order to determine what media to target with your announcement ask yourself if you, as an end reader would find your news appropriate in a given publication. For example, a seed funding announcement is something that we’d expect to see in TechCrunch or Tech.eu, but maybe not in the Wall Street Journal or Business Week.

Still got questions? Email me at clara@thirdeyemedia.press