It is still far behind Europe’s major economic epicentres like Berlin, London and Amsterdam, but Lisbon is growing as a hub for ambitious tech founders. The city is fast becoming Southern Europe’s answer to Silicon Valley as the capital of Business-to-Business (B2B), Software as a Service (SaaS), e-commerce, and technology start-ups and scaleups. Lisbon-born start-ups include Talkdesk, Landing.jobs, Uniplaces and Unbabel. Meanwhile, Farfetch, OutSystems, DefinedCrowd and Feedzai are examples of successful start-ups with Portuguese founders, even though they are based abroad.
Due to the success of these founders and start-ups (among others), venture capital (VC) is steadily flowing into Lisbon. As Lisbon’s start-up ecosystem matures and gains investors’ confidence, the Portuguese capital is a promising destination for domestic and foreign founders and VC firms.
While start-up companies are taking advantage of Lisbon’s growing tech community, there are still some hurdles, including the limited availability of talent in the marketing field. Portuguese start-ups can therefore benefit from globally integrated marketing communications and public relations agencies that operate nimbly across countries and continents. When marketing their business to investors and global B2B or B2C audiences, it is imperative to know how money and media markets differ from the UK to the US, or France to China, as each one has its own unique challenges.
Through a flexible, integrated and budget-efficient global communications model, start-ups can not only access the Portuguese media market but also successfully expand their marketing strategy across borders and build their brand and reputation worldwide.
Lisbon, the New Eldorado for Entrepreneurship
The capital of Portugal brings together a set of attributes that are ideal for entrepreneurs, from the year-round good climate and developed infrastructure to innovation-friendly government policies and the medium-paced way of life that promotes an ideal work-life balance. The value of Portugal and its capital city to start-ups and their employees also stems from its international mindset, low-cost workforce, low cost of living and one of the world’s highest levels of safety and English language proficiency. Additionally, highly qualified talent comes out of Lisbon’s well-renowned universities every year.
As part of its plan for economic recovery from the country’s financial crisis in 2010, the Portuguese government prioritised investments in technology innovation and focused on changing foreign perception of Portugal and encouraging both local and foreign entrepreneurs to start a business in the country. For example, Portugal offers a golden visa to non-EU residents, while tech entrepreneurs can get a start-up visa. Other key government initiatives include Startup Portugal, the FIS social innovation fund and the 200M fund. Nevertheless, despite the government’s increased incentives for innovation, high levels of bureaucracy are still hindering entrepreneurship.
Other Portuguese cities have also garnered attention from innovators, especially Porto and Braga. Following Lisbon’s footsteps, these cities have highly skilled populations due to the large number of higher education institutions situated in their geographical area. Moreover, the level of support which the city councils provide to start-ups is high. Porto is a top European destination for founders interested in “value for money”, meaning the balance of benefits and cost is worth the investment.
A New Destination Favoured by Digital Nomads
With people progressively working remotely and relocating from larger and more expensive cities, such as London and Berlin, Portugal is also increasingly on the radar of digital nomads. In fact, last year, the regional government of the island of Madeira launched Europe’s first digital nomad village, aiming to attract remote workers and entrepreneurs from the Portuguese mainland and around the world.
Portugal’s ideal combination of factors is also attracting multinational companies. Google, Amazon, Revolut, Bosch, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen Group are some of the corporations that have opened operation hubs in the country in recent years. Their presence greatly contributes to Portugal’s fast-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem as they facilitate access to a global network and provide partnership opportunities to the local start-up community.
To conclude, as Lisbon-based start-ups seek to scale their business and attract investors and customers in and outside of Portugal, establishing an effective and flexible communications strategy is a key factor in growing brand awareness. A globally integrated marketing communications programme enables companies to adapt to different media markets, secure coverage around the globe, and ultimately achieve their ambitions.