10 Things we learned in MEW (Day 1)

The Microsoft Entrepreneurship Week kicked off this Monday, April 3rd, at 6:00PM, with the session “Getting Started”. This is a brief description of the key learnings to bring home, if you didn’t have the opportunity to attend.

We counted with the presence of André Marquet, Pedro Moura, Gonçalo Fortes, and moderated by Tiago dos Santos Carlos (Christina Lock had a setback and could not make it).  They already knew each other, which positively reflected on a relaxed tone for the panel, even more so when the moderator opened for Q&A, bringing to the conversation all the audience.

They had strong opinions to share and they made sure not to constraint themselves on sharing them. Some would say they are tend to be rather “contrarians” (Wiki definition: “position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be”).

  1. One of the great challenges every entrepreneur faces is self-delusion. Pedro believes in following a more scientific methodology (trial and error, validating ideas, etc). Blindly seeking your vision may push you to a bad spot you don’t want to be.
  2. Another key challenge: trying not to lose focus. Stop wasting your time in startup events (like MEW!). Yes, Gonçalo actually said this, in a joking way. Most of his time as founder and CEO is spent keeping the team on track, not dispersing too much.
  3. Ideal characteristics of a good founder? Being a hustler (not seeing the wall in front of you), and knowing how to leverage your network may help. André has already organized many pre-acceleration programs, so he has met dozens of “wannabe” founders. Some patterns start to emerge, even though there are many false positives. Oh, and yes, being good looking matters. André told this, rather joking, as VCs seem to like people who like nicely beyond them on photos.
  4. Get mentors. But be careful and choose wisely, because most of the guys out there calling themselves “mentors” don’t know shit. The advice came from Gonçalo (minimize your risk by making sure you don’t do the same mistakes others have already done) and the warning from Pedro.
  5. Bootstrap your business, because otherwise “money is the best excuse to do nothing”. Gonçalo bootstrapped his startup for a long time (growing without much fund), and he believes it is a great way to learn how to be resilient. In the US, it may be possible to raise money with a napkin, in Europe it is tougher.
  6. When you feel your “soul dying”, why not quit your job and do something else that may fulfill you personally? That was what Pedro Moura decided to do, when he decided to leave a successful corporate career and embrace more entrepreneurial projects.
  7. Portugal is the worst place to have a startup. For Pedro, Portuguese politicians have been masters in marketing regarding the entrepreneurship, but it is still far beyond the ideal scenario. For André and Gonçalo, you should be where your market is pulling you.
  8. Startups like Portugal mostly because of cheap workforce. You may say it is because of the weather, the ecosystem booming, the incentives, but most likely it is about good engineers at a competitive price.
  9. Why are there so few women in Entrepreneurship? This issue was raised by an attendee, and for women, the problem starts much earlier. There are still very few “women courses” like Computer Science, and Pedro even believes it is associated to how parents start to “model” their children from early on.
  10. Bonus: some career advices that came up. If you study Finance and it is true that startups mostly look for engineers, why not mastering Entrepreneurial Finance, as startups eventually need it during and after Series A, or join a Fintech startup? Another one: you want to join a startup, but they are not actively looking for a new employee for the area you want? Convince them to open the spot. Show your entrepreneurial spirit, founders want people like them.

 

Tomás de Almeida

Tomás is a Masters in Finance student at NOVA School of Business & Economics. At NOVA Students’ Union, he leads the initiatives on Entrepreneurship, such as the Microsoft Entrepreneurship Week. Indeed, the world of startups and VC is one of his greatest interests. Another passion (almost obsession) always present in his life are Podcasts.

Last modified: 01/10/2017