The Complete Porto Startup City Guide

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Today, Porto is at the forefront of innovation, housing companies like Farfetch, Blip, Mindera, Euronext, AdClick, Byside, Yieldify, among many others. Startups (mainly B2B), incubators, pre-accelerators and acceleration programs abound in the city and it is easy to spot a booming startup ecosystem.

The University of Porto and the Porto Polytechnic Institute are amongst the best and biggest institutions of Higher Education in the country and are attracting more than 5000 Erasmus students every year. In the last few years, Porto has been recognized as a touristic destination of excellence multiple times.

In the last 4 years, the Municipality of Porto has made a big bet on entrepreneurship, developing a handful of initiatives to allow startups to use Porto as a living lab by positioning the city as a ScaleUp Hub, capable of providing the right infrastructure and access to talent as well as funding for fast growing companies.

Direction: Porto

Advantages Of Starting A Startup In Porto:

  • Very high quality of life paired with a low cost of living;
  • Voted European Best Destination 2017;
  • According to the World Bank, Portugal is the 25th easiest country to do business and the 32nd easiest country to set up a new business;
  • Lots of startup supporting infrastructures (incubators, coworking spaces, etc);
  • Active startup and tech communities with regular events and meetups;
  • English is widely spoken;
  • Free National Health System (NHS) and affordable high-quality private insurance;
  • Extensive and reliable transportation system (you can get to the main spots of the city, like the airport, by subway and bus);
  • Competitive talent from top management, technical and design universities;
  • Direct flight connections to other European hubs (mainly through low-cost airlines – Ryanair and Easyjet have big hubs in Porto);
  • Good free WiFi connections available (for example on STCP Buses with Veniam) plus 4G available everywhere.

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • Almost no direct flights to the USA;
  • The startup ecosystem is very recent and companies’ success rate is still low;
  • The Portuguese population is quite ‘tech-savvy’, but in general there aren’t many early adopters to new and innovative technologies;
  • Although most of the people speak English, Portuguese is the country’s first and most prominent language, which isn’t that easy to learn – this is something to consider if you want your product or service to go viral cross-country.

First Stop: Discover Porto’s Startup Community

The Complete Porto Startup City Guide

Since 2010, Porto’s Startup Scene has been growing and events and meetups are an important driver of that growth. Every month, a number of events happen in Porto, some more inspirational, others more tech driven and others more focused on networking. Events are a great way to meet and interact with aspiring entrepreneurs. They are also a great way to get involved with the local startup ecosystem. Most events are held in English.

Info About Upcoming Events, Meetups & Other Occasions:

  • Porto Startup Scene Facebook Group: This is an active Facebook Group where the main events and initiatives are promoted.
  • Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.
  • Eventbrite Portugal: Eventbrite is the world’s largest self-service ticketing platform. It enables people all over the world to plan, promote and sell tickets for any event.

Regular Events & Meet-ups:

  • Porto Startup Coffee: a monthly informal meetup for entrepreneurs, investors, and people interested in entrepreneurship. The idea is to have a place and time where people can have coffee or beer after work and network with interesting folks.
  • Founders are Happy [Hour]: every month founders meet for drinks, snacks and talk about everything including tech and business. Enjoy the house and join the community.
  • Let’s Grow Again” Meetup: the marketing and growth meetup with industry experts. Learn all about growth hacking strategies and take part in the networking and Q&A sessions!
  • Tech Tech Talk: monthly event where a particular technology is presented, followed by a Q&A or workshop.
  • Porto Python Meetup: Meetup for all Python enthusiasts in Porto.
  • Porto WordPress Meetup: event for anyone interested in WordPress in and around Porto.
  • OPO.js: part of the OPO.network, this is the Porto JavaScript Community, which is dedicated to all the Porto area JS aficionados.
  • Creative Mornings Porto: CreativeMornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community.
  • DevOps: DevOps Porto is a community for everyone interested in reducing the pain of software delivery and in building “bridges” between development and operations.
  • Porto Codes: A group of software engineering enthusiasts that meet every month to share experiences.

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

  • Start&Scale Week: A week dedicated to the promotion of innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation, based in Porto. With initiatives aimed at several segments, the agenda reinforces the role of Porto as a reference to the Scaleup movement on a national and international level.
  • ScaleUp for Europe Conference: ScaleUp For Europe aims to provide entrepreneurs with information about cities’ context and business environment and to promote their growth and internationalization effort.
  • Porto Summer of Code: Porto Summer of Code is a 3-day hackathon that happens every year, striving to galvanize Porto’s tech scene. Some of the event’s main values are to improve the city, to improve the participant’s culture and to help all involved to achieve their full potential. Porto Summer of Code is free, fun, and priceless.
  • Porto Tech Hub: Porto Tech Hub is a movement launched by a group of tech companies that want to ensure Porto is an excellent innovation hub. The community believes that people are a unique source of talent, creativity, and passion mixed with a city where technology, work, and lifestyle choices come together to form the perfect combination.
  • Hackacity: Hackacity is a hackathon that aims to test big data and promote its use to develop solutions that will have an impact in the city, but also foster collaboration amongst stakeholders. For 24 hours, participants get together to develop solutions based on open source platforms to address challenges faced by the citizens, using data provided by the city.
  • Commit Porto: Commit Porto is an IT multi-disciplinary conference that brings together IT professionals from different areas talking about their experience tackling challenges in software development with the latest technology, providing an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing.
  • Talk a Bit: Talk a Bit is a non-profit student-organized conference where hot topics are discussed, mostly on the social impact of technology.
  • StartupFest StartUP Fest is the biggest festival of new products and businesses of the University and the City of Porto.

Second Stop: Park At A Co-working Space

The Complete Porto Startup City Guide

In the last years, the coworking scene is booming in Porto. Every month a new space opens its doors to new communities and professionals. From the tech-savvy to the more hands-on spaces (fablabs) there are several co-working spaces open 24/7.

Co-working Spaces In Porto:

  • OPO’LAB: OPO’Lab is a multidisciplinary center dedicated to think and explore the creative use of new technologies in architecture, construction, design and other artistic fields, by promoting research, education, and cultural activities.
  • PORTO I/O: Porto i/o is a coworking space of reference in Porto. They currently have three locations in the Porto area: Porto i/o Downtown, Porto i/o Riverside and Porto i/o Seaside.
  • CRU Cowork: CRU Cowork is located in the artistic quarter of the city of Porto. Since 2012, it gathers creatives with different backgrounds.
  • Typographia: TYPOGRAPHIA-COWORK is located in the Cordoaria area, in a centennial building in the heart of the Historic Center of the City of Porto, offering its users excellent working conditions and a privileged scenario of inspiration and contemplation of the city.
  • My District: a historical building that congregates offices, co-working spaces, event rooms, restaurants, and stores on 5 floors and 5826 square meters.

Third Stop: Tank Your Finances In Porto

The Complete Porto Startup City Guide

In the last year, the Portuguese Government launched an initiative called StartUP Portugal. More than fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, it aims to support those who are already entrepreneurs, ensuring the longevity of the companies created and increasing the impact they have on job creation and economic value. It means to organize, free up and promote the sharing of benefits, best practices, and resources, identify regional and sectoral flaws and fill gaps. Devised as a four-year plan, it is focused on three areas of operation: Ecosystem, Funding & Internationalization. Among the initiatives are Startup Voucher, Incubation Voucher and the co-financing of Business Angels.

Incubators:

  • UPTEC: UPTEC – Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto is a fundamental structure of support knowledge transfer between the University and the market, created to sustain the University of Porto’s third mission – the social and economic leverage of its generated knowledge.
  • Porto Design Factory: Porto Design Factory is a co-learning and co-creation platform, part of Politécnico do Porto, focused on educating a new generation of global innovators, responsible entrepreneurs, and future change makers, through an education program targeted at developing the skills required by the 4th industrial revolution. Porto Design Factory has developed international projects with some of the best universities in the world, like Stanford, MIT, Aalto, Nottingham Trent etc, and world-renowned companies like Ford, Kone, Ikea Industry, Sonae, etc.
  • Founders Founders: Founders Founders is a community and space for inspiring companies, entrepreneurs, biz experts, and investors brought to life by 5 startup founders that got together to create the perfect space for their teams and other startups from the community.

Accelerators:

  • InRes by CMU Portugal: inRes, short for “in residence”, is a very early-stage acceleration program for entrepreneurial teams working on Information and Communication Technologies in Portugal. Organized by the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program (CMU Portugal), funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, inRes provides a training period in Portugal, followed by a seven-week structured immersion in the U.S., anchored at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), including six weeks in Pittsburgh, and a final week in Silicon Valley. The participating teams benefit from the exposure to a highly dense environment of world-leading research groups, and market and industry specialists, in a variety of high-tech areas.
  • Business Ignition Program: using the lean startup approach BIP aims to build and test alternative business models for technologies developed in academia.
  • Escola de Startups: UPTEC’s School of Startups is addressed to entrepreneurs with technology, scientific or creativity-based business projects that wish to startup their own company.
  • Beta Sound System: Beta Sound System is the first Portuguese program to accelerate new business ideas for the music industry, designed to support the work of the most brilliant artists, researchers and entrepreneurs and the most promising startups in the music industry.
  • Porto Design Accelerator: Porto Design Accelerator is the first Portuguese program to accelerate new design-based business ideas, planned to support the work of the brightest designers, engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs and the most promising design-driven startups.

Grants & Subventions:

  • StartUP Voucher is a new initiative from the Portuguese Government ready to push for good ideas by enabling, for one year, the support and tools that can help you develop your idea into a project, that could become a startup.
  • Portugal 2020: a partnership agreement between Portugal and the European Commission to contribute to economic, and social development through 5 European funds. Till 2020 Portugal will receive 25 billion Euro.
  • Jessica holding fund Portugal is operationalizing the JESSICA initiative in Portugal. JESSICA – Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas, is an initiative of the European Commission developed in co-operation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB). It supports sustainable urban development and regeneration through financial engineering mechanisms.
  • HORIZON 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever with nearly 80 billion Euro of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract and of course, is applicable for initiatives in Lisbon.
  • FINICIA is a program that facilitates the access to financing solutions and provides assistance for different entrepreneurial projects which are close to the market or with a high growth potential. They provide their services in the creation phase of the company, in companies with fewer than 4 years of activity and in projects with local interest.
  • Turismo de Portugal, through subsidiary companies, implement venture capital operations by taking shareholdings in companies operating within the tourism sector with the prospect of valorization over the medium-term. Also, administers, manages and represents closed real estate investment funds whose intervention has enabled modernization and rescaling of the hotel offer, demonstrating that the tourism sector is a strategic area for the country.

Crowd Investing Platforms:

  • Seedrs: Seedrs makes it possible for anyone to invest in businesses they believe in and share in their success
  • Raize: an alternative source of finance for businesses and investment for individuals, made of people and companies.

Angel Investors:

In the Porto region, you can find a number of business angels that are now co-investing with the government. Since this is a recent initiative from the government, there is still not much information about them, but here is a list:

  • Alfabeto Prodigio, Lda.
  • Argumentodisseia – Unipessoal, Lda.
  • Casper Ventures SGPS Lda
  • Creative Wings SGPS S.A
  • Distintoparadigma, Lda
  • Green Capital SGPS S.A
  • IDEIAS GLACIARES
  • Indextalent II Lda
  • Iniciativa Incógnita, Lda
  • iSmart Ventures
  • Meiril
  • Startupdiscoveries SGPS S.A

Venture Capital Investors:

  • Portugal Ventures: Portugal Ventures is a Venture Capital firm, focusing its investments in innovative, scientific and technology-based companies as well as in companies from the more traditional Portuguese Tourism and Industrial sectors, with significant competitive advantages and export oriented to global markets.
  • Caixa Capital: Caixa Capital is a pioneering operator in the Portuguese market, with about 500 million Euro under management and a total potential capital of 700 million Euro for its managed funds.
  • Pathena: Pathena is a specialized investment firm focused on boosting the success of Information Technology companies. Pathena partners have strong backgrounds and expertise both as entrepreneurs and as investors in the IT field, with a proven track record.

Fourth Stop: Seek Further Advice

The Complete Porto Startup City Guide

For some more information about the Porto Startup Scene take a look at ScaleUpPorto and check out the map with the most important players in the ecosystem. You can also check for news about Portugal’s Startup Scene on PortugalStartups.com.

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The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!