Railslove goes Lisbon Pt. 1

Why we packed our bags, went off to WebSummit – and stayed.

The thing about conferences and community events is that, most of the time, you spend a couple of really intense days networking, absorbing loads of information and trying to get too many things squeezed into that limited amount of time. Once the event is over, there’s not much left to gain. Mostly that’s fine. But we felt that, with Lisbon being hyped as the next Berlin or even Silicon Valley, we needed to take the chance to dig a little deeper. Connections made at the WebSummit, or any conference, don’t need to end just there and may be leveraged to gain access into the local scene. Why not try to reconnect once the big buzz is over? Good thing it is November and the weather in Cologne sucks anyway, so we booked a flat in the heart of Lisbon from November to January to see what the city has to offer tech- and startup-wise.

Want to go on a journey with us? Off we go!

The WebSummit Center Stage in the MEO Arena

Hard Facts Lisbon

Name: Município de Lisboa
Population: centre: 550,000, urban area: 2,800,000
Elevation: 2m – 227m (yeah, it’s steep!)
Settlement: around 1250s
Annual Average Temp.: 21,5 °C
Annual Sunshine Hours: 2,800 (Cologne: 1500)
Rent: around 75% cheaper than London
Universities: approx. 35
Startup Count: 460 companies
Average Valuation: $2,4M
Investors: 2,900

Let’s get started…

…with some impressions of the WebSummit. What to expect from a conference with 50,000+ attendees? We didn’t know either. Turned out it wasn’t quite as dramatic as you would imagine. Still, there was a lot going on and it was hard to decide where to go and what to do. So we split tasks:


Michael went off to check out all the fintechs exhibiting there and talked to them about their products and ideas. Additionally, Michael and Jan did two interviews, one with Brett Myers, founder of P2P currency exchange marketplace CurrencyFair and another one with João Freire de Andrade, Head of Venture Capital at BiG - Banco de Investimento Global, who knows a lot about the Lisbon tech scene and - obviously - investment in startups. We exchanged our opinions about how banks can best participate in emerging tech companies in different ways - by investing in them and cooperating or partnering with them.

The MoneyConf was held on Day 1 of the WebSummit

Read the interviews:
Disruption mixed in with the noise
An investor's opinion on collaboration and co-creation.

Products and Topics

Stephan is not only our „king of sales“ (although he would fiercely contradict this term...), he is also savvy in picking the most interesting products, talks and discussions at such an event (...while he loves hearing that).
So while Michael was trying to catch the right people for some interviews, Stephan was happily participating in round tables, watching pitches, talking to startups and identifying the people we need to establish contact with in order to build a network after the event.

...and he encountered some old friends:
Lezay, who we helped with building their infrastructure and frontend a while ago. They are a skincare platform and beauty consultant and were exhibiting at the WebSummit. Great!
– The guys from Pulpo WMS, who used to work for KPMG and attended one of Stephan’s workshops in the past. They quit their jobs, moved to Colombia and built a modular Warehouse Management System in the cloud. Once more it’s interesting to see what people give up in order to start over with something they believe in.
– One of the biggest startups from Portugal, Hole19. Stephan, being a top-notch golf player himself, uses their app regularly and had a chat about the upcoming updated and further ideas to be implemented in the product. Stay tuned if you like golf!

Another thing the WebSummit offers and which adds great value to the event are the roundtables. Ever had the chance to get into a discussion with a leading industry authority and likeminded people about a topic you are opinionated about? He attended the following discussions: – Supporting local payment methods with Simon Black, CEO of PPRO – Corporates meet startups: How does it work – Challenges in hunting clients of different sizes in the SaaS business with Glen Shoosmith from BookingBug

Want to know more about this? Shoot Stephan a mail

Lost in Lisboa

Stephan and Michael were fairly busy and enjoyed the liveliness of the event with occasional visits to the center stage to see:
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Actor and founder of hitRECord
- Paddy Cosgrave, Founder of the WebSummit
- The mayor of Lisbon and prime minister of Portugal
- Luis Figo and Ronaldinho (I mean, what?!)
- and Gary Vaynerchuk for the most entertaining and somewhat very true talk „Afraid to fail because of other people's opinions?“

Looking for a cool place to work? Try the Vélocité Café for superb coffee and food at cheap prices and a laid-back atmosphere.

Stay tuned for details on Jan’s journey. He has been in Lisbon from beginning of November with some occasional visits to Germany to run two hackathons. His goal is to really get to know the city, the people, Lisbon as a place to do business, the coders, the pubs, the food, the investors, …you name it.

Stay tuned for A LOT more to come. We will share our impressions with you regularly. We have met quite a number of helpful people, have absorbed the atmosphere and Jan is now in the process of really getting to know the city and the startup scene.

Tell us what you want to know or if there is anything you cannot miss about Lisbon and we will send Jan on a journey as our personal probe. Including a story about it.

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