Startups, especially in their early days, often seek funding from VC’s, angel investors, and crowdfunding. But at what point should they also consider approaching banks for funding? To help us understand this better, we have Ricardo Jorge, Executive Board Member of Santander Portugal, who will shed some light 


Ricardo Jorge giving a keynote at EIA Porto 2023
Ricardo Jorge giving a keynote at EIA Porto 2023

When should early-stage startups think about approaching banks for funding?

As a startup founder, the right timing to approach a bank for funding can vary based on your business type, the amount of money needed, and your experience in running a company. At Santander Portugal, we are open to considering projects at any stage of a company’s life. Whether you are just starting out or looking to expand, we are here to analyse your project and offer support.

That’s great to know. So, what funding options do Santander Portugal offer specifically for startups?

At Santander Portugal, we offer various financial products and services that are applicable to startups. We understand that startups have unique needs, and our decision-making model considers the feasibility of providing support. We also work closely with the national government and European Partners to offer Credit Lines that can benefit startups. Moreover, with the new EU Support Framework (Portugal 2030), we can support startups by anticipating European funds and helping them secure the necessary financing.

That sounds promising! How is Santander Portugal’s approach to funding startups different from other banks?

Our approach goes beyond just providing funding. We believe in understanding the people behind the startups and their ideas. This helps us better evaluate the potential of the project and provide appropriate support. We don’t limit our assistance to financial matters; we offer robust non-financial support too. For example, we can connect startups with a University, providing access to knowledge and information. Additionally, we have a dedicated “Special Projects Area” to analyse unique projects that may not fit traditional banking norms.

That’s certainly a comprehensive approach. What criteria do startups need to meet to secure a loan or funding from Santander Portugal? And how can they increase their chances of getting funded?

To secure funding from Santander Portugal or any bank, startups need to present a viable business plan with a clear path to financial sustainability. Here are some tips to increase your chances of getting funded:

  • Ensure you have adequate resources, whether physical, financial, or human, allocated to your project.
  • Seek expertise and technical support if you lack resources. You can approach organizations in your industry or even a University for help.
  • Make sure your project has a critical size to survive in the market.
  • Show a strong connection to the market and demonstrate interest in your products or services.
  • While collaterals are essential for securing loans, if you lack them, explore public entities like BPF/SGM or EIF/EIB, which can share the risk and make your project viable.

Those are valuable insights. Now, what can startups expect during the application and approval process for funding?

The application and approval process is personalized and tailored to each project. In general, having a well-prepared Business Plan that aligns with your company’s strategy and objectives is crucial. The Bank will review your project carefully to assess its viability and potential for success.

That makes sense. Apart from funding, what other support does Santander Portugal offer to startups?

At Santander, we are passionate about supporting startups at every stage of their journey. We have a global program called Santander X that offers support from pre-incubation to launching, accelerating, and growing your business. We provide key tools and resources to turn your ideas into a solid value proposition. Moreover, our community, Santander X100, connects startups with other entrepreneurs, mentors, and experts who can provide valuable feedback and help you overcome challenges. Our commitment to universities and partnerships like European Innovation Academy reflects our dedication to nurturing entrepreneurship and being part of the creative and stimulating endeavour of turning ideas into successful businesses.