Why I started a good part of my startup in Portugal

Posted Jan 17, 2020 2:45 PM

“October 2017, gray in Paris, it’s been 3 months since my partner left the company, projects are piling up and I’m having trouble undoing my work. On a whim I catch a plane to Faro to join an entrepreneur friend who launched an antenna out of his trunk three years ago in southern Portugal .

On a rainy morning in Orly, in the afternoon with my feet on the sand, blue sky against the sea, I said to myself: Why am I getting this… in Paris! I realized in hindsight why, but suddenly it came as a clue and I remembered a phrase that had been a little forgotten: why do we separate pleasure from work.

For 4 days, I studied opportunity, interviewed my friend’s staff, and (re)discovered the Portuguese people and their culture. When you have an emotion, you have to follow your instinct and follow it, even if it means failure… Grinta is definitely lost! When I got back to Paris I was determined to go there, and Gael, an intern at the time, immediately showed enthusiasm and confirmed my idea.

My favorite in Lisbon

After a few weeks, we left together to explore the possibilities: Faro, the big city in the south; Olhao, where my friend is installed; Or Lisbon, the capital. On our return, we were not only more determined to launch this Portuguese adventure, but above all we were seduced by Lisbon.

Even if we only spent 4 hours in Lisbon, we had a real crush. The atmosphere that prevails there, the liveliness and originality of the city, the kindness and openness of the people we meet fascinate us completely. Everything corresponds to what we were looking for, a new adventure can begin.

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Get the team involved in the project

I wanted this project to be the project of the whole company, so we presented, in Paris, the possibilities (Faro, Olhão, Lisbon or out of Portugal) and proceeded to vote. Even if in our heads Gael and I were convinced that Lisbon was the best option, the others had to own the project.

We are at the beginning of December, we are seven collaborators at AJstage, and with a little help in influencing the jury, the Lisbon project has been accepted by all. A month later, Gaëlle and Emilie moved into our new offices in the Béta-i incubator, hosted by Captain Recruiter. In 3 months, we went from intuition to reality, starting on a whim and realizing through a crush.

January 2018 is the euphoria of modernity and as we are in Europe, everything can be done very quickly. For 1,000 euros, a company of us set up the company and managed the accounts.

One team, two nations

Then the first problems quickly arrive.. the main problem? Communication within the team. Lisbon team that feels sad compared to Paris and vice versa. As usual, any difficulty provides an opportunity for growth. Is communication a problem? Let’s do a seminar in Lisbon to strengthen the bonds and for everyone to take ownership of the project. It took us a year before we accepted that the bond would never be the same in a team and that we had to build something different.

We know it’s important to have regular A/Rs, admittedly not very environmental, but important to company development. Spending time in Lisbon is always a breath of fresh air, I come back energized and full of ideas. Sometimes I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m having tough days.

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Increased attractiveness

Among the good news, the company’s attractiveness is increasing. Internal offer attracts up to 10 times more good candidates. Managing from a distance forces us to structure ourselves better, and allows everyone more responsibilities and space to express their potential. In the end, I am sure, it will also be useful in professional management, it provides an additional opportunity.

Two years after creating this structure, I still think it’s one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. We are now 12 in the company, 50% of which is in Lisbon.

Part of the AJstage team in Lisbon@employee

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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