Although Portugal doesn’t attract a significant amount of venture capital at this time, it has a thriving ecosystem of startups and ANJE, which is a country-wide incubator working with more than 150 startups, is a significant part of that ecosystem. The country has also had some very interesting and successful startups that have raised venture capital previously, including Farfetch, a luxury ecommerce site, Movvo, a retail location analytics company, and Codacy, a code quality service run by CEO Jaime Jorge, who sat on a panel with me.
While Portugal has had its economic difficulties, including slow growth and high unemployment, it has an entrepreneurial streak that was on display at the conference. The country benefits from a very good university system that teaches strong technical and math skills, and a high proficiency in English (they recognize that very few people will learn Portuguese—I am an exception to that). So they have the right skills for building technical startups. And remember, this is the country of the great explorers Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellen, and many, many others.
One of the most interesting sessions was to participate in a peer-to-peer group of CEOs run by CEOworld, which provides a peer-to-peer coaching and networking service that allows CEOs to meet in monthly coaching sessions to help each other with minimal monthly time commitment. It was helpful to hear CEOs and executives coaching each other and providing solutions and interesting to see companies helping each other.
Here is a sample of some of the companies that I met with and watched pitch this week. Hopefully this is just the first wave of many interesting companies that will come out of Portugal in the coming years. If you see anything you want to be introduced to, let me know.
Pet Universal is a veterinarian hospital management software company that manages pet treatment and care.
Feetit develops a mobile application for virtual foot sizing, allowing you to get a perfect fit for off the shelf and custom footware.
Place & Tickets is a destination site that offers all-in-one packages of event tickets and travel packages.
Issho Software develops 3d design configuration software for custom furniture manufacturers.
Cook4.me has created a service for peer-to-peer cooking from kitchen to your home.
SerPharma is focused on providing information about over the counter medications to consumers and pharmacies through its service MEDimprove (site in Portuguese).
Sceelix, which develops an engine for creating 3D images.
Agroop, a software based farm management solution.
Lapa manufactures a location device similar to Tile that has seen very good success as a consumer device and was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Nutsoft develops software to help smaller retail organizations manage their inventory and omnichannel commerce.
Retrivr is an ad-tech company that uses rewards and gamification to great a better ad experience.
This is just a sample as there were many others that I did not have time to see. Let’s hope that there are many more coming out of Portugal in the future.