Lisbon is one of the most promising tech startup ecosystems in Europe. So many new businesses, so much foreign talent, so much attention in the press. International media coverage is comparing Lisbon to San Francisco or Berlin considering it as one of the best cities to work in Europe and a great place for building your own startup.

We had a chat with Ricardo Marvao, the Founding Partner of Beta-i – a top Incubator in Lisbon according to Wired. He shared his knowledge about what’s going on and future steps to the capital of Portugal.

What makes Lisbon so attractive? Is it a good place for building your own startup?

Being an entrepreneur is hard, across the globe, but the good thing is that in Lisbon you get to know a lot of amazing people who are always willing to help. Something unique if you’re planning on building your own startup.

You can also relax by the beach and go surfing on the weekends. You have an amazing quality of life and low living costs – a really helpful aspect when you’re building your own company.

What does Beta-i stand for?

We believe in the power of “i”, that stands not only for innovation but also for imagination, initiative, inspiration, ignition, investment… For us, fostering great ideas and watching them grow to achieve their full potential is the key.

Why collaborate with EIA?

EIA is an accelerator of mindsets. Young people start from this impossible problem: going from an idea to a 1000 clients in 3 weeks. Besides the impossible problem, EIA creates a multicultural diversity and makes people with different backgrounds work together. And all of this in a very short time span: 3 weeks.

This brings out the best and the worst of everyone and I think by the end it will shift people’s mindset. If you want to build your own startup and it looks impossible: it will not seem impossible after having this experience.

What is the biggest mistake you have seen young startup founders make?

The biggest mistake is not trying. People very often think that someone else, who is faster, is already thinking about the same idea, but this is wrong: most people won’t even try and those who try to stop at the first barrier. The way youngsters perceive failure or risk needs to change. Failure needs to be a learning curve and needs to be accepted as part of the process.

How has your education helped you in becoming who you are now?

I remember my father used to work a lot in Algarve, in the South of Portugal. We would always play a game: design an idea from the beginning of the trip, back to Algarve and we would assemble the whole idea until we would reach the end of the trip. So, we did this trip dozens of time, and every time there would be another idea. Because then, we would have a business plan, model, marketing and everything needed to start a business.

Are there any books or podcasts out there you’ve found to recommend?

Isadore Sharp: Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy.

In this book, the founder of the Four Seasons hotel explains how he transformed the business from a three-star hotel to a five-star hotel with just one thing: hospitality. It’s about making sure that the client feels at home and that you really don’t need money to achieve what you need to achieve.

I think this is also very connected with education. We’re showing young students how to use technology and how everything is connected, but it’s important to learn the soft skills and to teach sports, arts, music and theatre – learning the art of improvising.

About Beta-i:

  • The Top Incubator in Lisbon according to Wired, and one of the main entrepreneurship and innovation organizations in Europe, and its mission is to help create a true innovation culture

  • Europe’s 2nd most dynamic accelerator by Fundacity

  • Since 2010 has received 5000+ startup applications to their programs and accelerated over 850 startups, that have raised +65M€, with 12.000+ people attending their events

  • They help new and established businesses grow, by offering innovative services in a 360º approach. 6 focus areas: Acceleration, Events, Consultancy, Open Innovation, Education and Investment