There was big bustle In the Generator Room of the Electricity Museum in Lisbon, which was completely full. Energia de Portugal's 3rd edition was about to begin and all over the room, the elements of the 15 teams were getting acquainted and speaking enthusiastically. However it was impossible not to notice a completely different idiom. A more attentive ear could identify Mandarin and recognize the Chinese team that, together with four Brazilian teams are the symbol of the internationalization that this year, features the entrepreneurship competition of Expresso and EDP.
Jemma Xu and Yiyi Wang travelled from China to Portugal and we could still see sequels of the long trip they have made. Looking relaxed, they were watching with curiosity the ceremony that was taking place around them and they were anxiously waiting for the next chapters of what they hope will be the adventure of their lives. "Your country is very hot", Jemma says smiling. For the moment the team that promotes local tourism with experiences out of the usual circuits, intends to focus on the "contact with other start-ups and understand how the entrepreneurial ecosystem works and how they can take advantage of their stay in Europe. They already dream of living the Portuguese culture and they do not hesitate in asking where they can "do mountaineering and visit an art district in Lisbon". But, right now, they are paying attention to the ceremony that is taking place.
In charge of the official start was Pedro Norton, who received the participants in the new edition of this initiative assuring that this project was born with the purpose of creating entrepreneurs and that, along the years, it has won scale and size, what is shown by its international dimension". The executive President of Grupo Impresa further refers a Winston Churchill phrase, in which the English statesman says, "If you're going through hell... keep going", to illustrate the difficulties awaiting the entrepreneurs along their way.
The teams video was a high point in the ceremony
A panel designed to Portugal's role while entrepreneurship platform followed, where the members of the main organizations most connected with the Portuguese entrepreneurial movement tried to explain the challenges to be faced in our country and the steps already taken to make us more competitive. António Lucena de Faria, CEO of Fábrica de Startups, which organised Energia de Portugal's bootcamps confirmed these opinions in his intervention and stressed the need of conditions so that people are not afraid of taking risks. One of the afternoon's highlights took place soon after and it was the exhibition of a video of the 15 teams presenting their projects in a good humoured way before the laughter and applause of the audience. Me Passa Aí was one of the most enthusiastic teams when seeing this image on the screen. The group that presents a platform of distance learning to students thanks the opportunity of "not crawling anymore and having the chance of jumping instead". They did networking "in the first five minutes and want "to play with everybody".
To complement work with fun is something that the Portuguese team of Primetag does not despise because "if there is not some fun" they get "crazy!" With a project different from the traditional way of advertising, they believe that along the four weeks they will find "a better way to reach the honey of honey pot at the end of the rainbow".
Ideas emerged and further developed during with the positive thinking of the subsequent interventions. António Mexia, CEO of EDP stressed out Energia de Portugal's role to "gather people and money" and called attention to the fact that entrepreneurship is "a culture that makes it important that difference is valued and that is still a problem in Portugal", because, according to him "making mistakes is good, because it means that one has, at least tried". Still, he sees "culture is drastically changing" he looks to the future with hope mainly due to this kind of initiatives which "accomplish ideas and change them into businesses".
The ceremony was also attended by the Secretary of State for the Tourism, Adolfo Mesquita Nunes, who stressed the role this entrepreneurial movement can have in promoting one of the most important sectors in national economy, "where competition can only be beaten if new ideas emerge". He even dared to state that Portugal "can be the entrepreneurship capital as far as tourism is concerned".
The ceremony had ended and the room was slowly emptying. Some of the teams were still trying to do networking towards the coming phase. It was time to charge batteries for the first bootcamp that would begin in the following day. Either in Mandarin or in Portuguese the competition will be a hard one.
Article originally published in Expresso Economia on the 25th October 2014