This was my third time mentoring with the Innovation Academy, and the first one I did in Cascais. It happened during my travel year, and It was my last stop before returning home. I was a marketing mentor with EIA. I had worked at a startup before leaving to travel. We had grown to 40 employees, and they’re still going. 

What did you enjoy the most about Cascais when you were there?

As I look back on my time in Cascais, I remember a beautiful view of the ocean. It was so nice to sit on the balcony from the breakfast space, have a cup of coffee, and hear the ocean. Instead of taking a bus or an Uber, I would walk to the venue. There would be the sun and the sound of the ocean. It was a lovely and cleansing ritual to start my days. In the evenings, we would go back the same way, and stop to have a drink or something to eat. There’s nothing better than sitting by the ocean, enjoying good food, good drinks, and good conversation. 

Was there anything that surprised you about Cascais?

We took over one of these karaoke bars one night. How are those so many karaoke bars in one place? It’s surprisingly close to Lisbon, and it was also close to Sintra, which was a short ride away. Cascais is a little bit off the beaten path, but it has a lot of good things and easy access to Lisbon.

If Cascais was a song, what would it be?

It would be Under the boardwalk by The Beach Boys or the song Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen by Baz Luhrmann.  

How do you think a program like EIA fits into a place like Cascais?

It has everything a big event like EIA needs. It has a decent living arrangement and hotels within walking distance of the venue. It’s great food, restaurant, and nightlife to keep visitors entertained. They can stay nearby or go to Lisbon to enjoy themselves. Some convention places are just next to an airport, but Cascais is right on the beach, and you have nature and the ocean all around you. I think that’s pretty rare.

I liked the Estoril Congress Center. It’s so fun and wide open. There was a lot of light which isn’t always the case at large venues. I loved the two-floor layout: you can have a little distance from the other participants, and there’s also a place to hang out. It’s unusual to have a well-lit and energizing convention space. Often they are closed-off, with no windows. It was lovely that the convention center offered that kind of environment.

How do you think that affects the student participating in the program?

The convention center is so close to the ocean. Students—even those working in a startup—must take brain and body breaks. Cascais as the location provides an excellent place for relaxation and the venue a perfect place to get your work done.