After months of planning, the day finally arrived when we proudly lifted the veil on the LisbonBIGApps competition. I say proudly because the project encompasses our true passions – Portugal, Lisbon, innovation, entrepreneurship and knowledge.
You couldn’t have a more beautiful and vibrant backdrop, Lisbon, voted by many acclaimed organizations as the best city to live, work and play. The invitation from the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa to validate and promote their open data sets was the trigger and Vodafone provided the technology love, prowess and means – fresh cash, a term used by Miguel (iMatch and mentor) in the presentation and later adopted by the other speakers.
The final missing ingredients, knowledge and technology, are supplied by our great partners SoftLayer and Tec Labs. Tec Labs is not your typical startup shop – they exhume talent and intelligence like few others and as we walked around their premises, as part of the bloggers ´experience before the press conference, our combined IQ was still lower than that of the Italian biochemist working with Bioalvo.
Convincing SoftLayer to come on board was equally gratifying as they are also not your classic hosting solution provider. They are founders serving founders, of new startups, struggling with the same challenges they too faced. Their Catalyst program brings solid services with great minds at the helm, ready to share their insights.
Before the press conference…
We invited bloggers and friends to come on a mini road trip, leading up to the press conference at midday, and we couldn’t have chosen better hosts than the surf-styled-anti-tourism-tours-pseudo-guides. What’s the secret to their success? A cheeky smile and straight answer – “we just look after people”. Their authenticity and openness couldn’t be a better fit for a movement that envisages a new society that uses technology to promote a better, more transparent life. Thanks guys – it was a blast. Make sure you head on over to their WeHateTourismTours boudoir at the LX Factory.
After the Tec Labs tour, and much appreciated refreshments, we were whisked to the Startup Lisboa, in the Italian styled Polizei van that has since had the letters Po removed thanks to an overzealous GNR (not the band) officer that insisted that tourists could mistake them for the real cops – imagine that…
At the end of the trip it was time for a tearful goodbye to our hosts who decided to toast us with their selection of the best and most authentic ginjinha – something you really shouldn’t drink before a press conference. Arrivedece…
The Press Conference
We couldn’t have chosen a better location – Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the monument that represents the romanticized idealization of the Portuguese exploration – sailing into the unknown. As past fearless explorers, it is incumbent on all of us to pay tribute to those that showed the greatness and diversity of the world we inhabit – as present explorers, startups, we can now show how small our world can be too.
Miguel Muñoz Duarte initiated the press conference with the vision, process and objectives of the Lisbon Big Apps initiative. A great presentation by a veteran host that has introduced hundreds of people to the experience of speaking on a stage – the mentor behind ignite Portugal.
Vodafone followed with a presentation from Henrique Fonseca, Director of Content Services & Mobile at Vodafone Portugal. Though Vodafone has innovated throughout the last two decades, it is in the last four years that Henrique decided to concentrate – and it became very clear how often we take innovation for granted.
Vodafone Portugal has since 2009 been heavily involved with supporting and nourishing entrepreneurship in Portugal, through projects such as The Summer of Widgets, Vodafone Mobile Clicks, Hackafone, App Circus and now Lisbon Big Apps. It’s a testament to their commitment in helping startups reach their true potential.
One of the key premises in their involvement is their involvement and experience in the different phases of the life cycle of an idea, from initial concept, through design prototype and development to testing, with the final and equally important go-to-market stage.
Within Lisbon Big Apps, Vodafone will be supporting the logistical part of the program, through workshops and testing; marketing through their diverse channels and where warranted, through their international presence; and supporting the starups through the financial prizes and in producing the most effective marketing plans. Suddenly, being a startup seems a less isolated affair.
Following on was Dra. Graça Fonseca, member of the council for Innovation and Economy at the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa. When you first meet Graça Fonseca, you are astonished at her extreme ability to represent the government position and all its politics, yet at the same time engage at a level that is reminiscent of a handful of women leading the way in Technology worldwide – what a shame we persist in making this industry, like many others, male dominated – our loss.
Her unequivocal support for Lisbon Big Apps has always been evident in all the meetings prior to the event and now, Graça officially describes her passion for Lisboa and the need for technology to embrace the every day life of those that visit, work and live in Lisboa. Many other projects show the definitive shift in the government’s attitude towards innovation, especially at grass roots.
One thing that has become apparent throughout this press conference, and seldom seen in others, is the complicity between the different stakeholders in this competition, united as one event though there may be at times, conflicting interests. Stay tuned for daily news on how we are helping shape the startup ecosystem, in the heart of Lisboa.