Discover Porto with Liliana Castro
A high quality of life paired with low cost of living, plus a flourishing start-up ecosystem, has made Porto an increasingly attractive prospect for people looking to launch a new business idea in the city. A growing number of co-working spaces have opened across Porto to meet the demand of founders and digital nomads taking up residence in the city. Each month there are a number of community events taking place from tech meet ups to networking and inspirational workshops.
Liliana Castro is the founder of Fes Agency, a leading communications company and she is actively involved in a number of initiatives to support Porto’s growth as a start-up city. Her specific focus is on helping women in tech and female founders to create more visibility and she is also the driving force behind the Portuguese Women in Tech community. Liliana’s latest venture SoftLanding Porto has been recently launched with the aim of encouraging more start-ups, tech events, and entrepreneurs to set up business in Porto.
As well as being the founder of your own communications industry, you are also involved with various initiatives to support Portugal’s flourishing start-up scene. Can you tell me a bit more about what you do and why?
I’m the founder of a PR agency which provides communication services for start-ups and tech projects. This means that I’m super close to what is happening in the tech ecosystem and even more so relating to women in tech. One of my aims is to help these women to create more visibility for themselves in the industry and beyond. This was where the idea for creating the Portuguese Women in Tech community came from. The community is focused on showcasing the great things women are doing in the tech ecosystem and also encouraging new connections and collaborations between female founders.
How would you describe the start-up scene in Porto and what do you think the advantages are of setting up business here?
Porto is a beautiful city, the people are nice, the cost of living is low, and the food is great. The tech ecosystem is alive and kicking, but with lots of space to grow and to give companies the tools to scale. From access to VC’s and to young entrepreneurs, as well as a pool of future talent from our schools, the foundations are in place to support growth.
Can you tell me more about why you founded Portuguese Women in Tech and how the group is supporting female founders?
When it’s time to congratulate someone for the work they’ve been doing, men are still more recognised than women and that inspired me to create something that changed the perspective!. We are currently bringing people together, lobbying for them to be speakers at events (mainly dominated by men), taking them to the Web Summit in Lisbon to be mentors for other young entrepreneurs, and creating booklets to distribute in schools so young girls can have role models to step up to.
At the heart of the Portuguese Women in Tech manifesto is “to present a portrait of Portuguese women who make a difference in the technology industry.” Who do you think most represents this in terms of female founders, and is there any one start-up you are really excited about supporting at the moment through the platform?
There isn’t one person specifically, all the women in our community are important and playing their part in making a difference. From the office managers to the founders, the marketers and data scientists, each woman counts. The start-up boom happening in Portugal right now is only possible because of them too. One of the start-ups we are currently supporting is TonicApp and its founder, Daniela Seixas.
SoftLanding Porto is your latest venture, can you tell me more about your vision with this project?
SoftLanding Porto was created to help encourage more start-ups, tech events, and entrepreneurs to come to Porto. The idea is to be a consulting firm with services that ensure that people and companies land on their feet and hit the ground running when they arrive in the city. We help with all their legal and accounting needs, and also with recruitment, communication, events and access to a community. Imagine that you move your business to the other side of the world and need help from a local to do it, at SoftLanding Porto, we are providing the framework, local expertise and connections to facilitate that.
What events and networks would you recommend in the city for female founders?
There are several tech communities and monthly meetups spread across the month and the city. Pick your favourite, go mingle and network!
Porto Startup Coffee – a monthly informal meetup for entrepreneurs, investors, and people interested in entrepreneurship. The idea is to have a place and time where people can have a coffee or a beer after work and network with interesting people
Geek Girls Portugal – the first Portuguese community created to bring women in tech together through regular meetings.
Founders are Happy [Hour] – monthly social event for founders.
Let’s Grow Again – a marketing and growth meetup with industry experts. Learn all about growth hacking strategies and take part in the networking and Q&A sessions!
Best co working spaces in the city?
These are three of the most popular spaces at the moment. Most are prepared for international co-workers working in different time zones, so offer 24/7 access.
PORTO I/O: Porto i/o is a key coworking space in Porto with three locations, Downton, Riverside and Porto i/o Seaside. Porto Startup Coffee and Porto Codes are two of the regular events which PORTO I/O hosts.
Now Porto: In the north of the city, Now Porto is one of the most recent coworking spaces open in the city. The space offers plenty of meeting rooms, an indoor and outdoor auditorium, a lounge area, a coffee space and, of course, free Wi-Fi.