When Filipa Manita is not painting her imagination on canvas, she is busy tweaking her business model canvas.
“It is funny that there are some similarities between art and business,” says Filipa, who believes that starting a business is a lot like painting.
“You don’t go into much detail in a painting until you have the canvas quite covered. You also shouldn’t build something like a tech product up to the most possible details without having your MVP first,” she explained, while fondly remembering a painting course at an art school in Lisbon in 2019 that led her to draw an analogy between a sketch and a minimum viable product.
This newly gained insight helped her get her priorities right when setting out on a mission to help companies add a splash of joy to their business journey through team-building events and activities.
In an exclusive interview with Via News, Filipa said her company, aptly named “Teamy”, was born out of a passion to take up a challenge that could quench her thirst for entrepreneurship.
“After finishing my studies in tourism and management, I worked for a couple of years in Algarve, but I had this massive curiosity about travel tech. So I thought I need to do something different.”
Filipa’s ambitions led her to Barcelona where she worked for Budgetplaces—an online travel agency offering low-cost accommodation—and to London, where she joined SiteMinder—a guest acquisition platform for hotels.
She later came back home and started working in Lisbon for Uniplaces, an online marketplace for booking student accommodation.
At that point in her life, she started to think more seriously about dipping her toe in the water of entrepreneurship and, after doing a lot of research, came up with the idea of developing a marketplace for team-building activities.
“The MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) industry is an industry where there are quite a lot of players who introduce themselves in different ways, but we wanted to build something completely focused on or for organizing team events and simplify this process,” said the co-founder of Teamy.
According to Filipa, Teamy connects companies that invest in team-building activities with local corporate providers on an all-in-one and easy-to-use platform and aspires to help businesses offer their employees an opportunity to create special bonds and moments.
Their partners include a wide range of service providers such as surf schools, space owners, catering businesses, coding bootcamps, drivers, and deejays.
The way it works is that companies request an activity or an event or both and fill in a form detailing their requirements and expectations. Whenever a new and relevant request comes in, Teamy’s partners will have a chance to send a proposal to the potential customer. The deal is closed when the client accepts the offer. Companies and suppliers can communicate openly before and after the event.
“Our pricing is pretty simple. Companies don’t pay anything to use [our regular services]. We take a 15 percent commission from the supplier,” Filipa said, adding that they charge companies an admin fee of 5 percent only if they request a premium event, which includes exclusive support and on-the-spot assistance.
She maintains that this price transparency, the use of technology, and the diversity of the activities available is what sets her company apart.
Teamy’s partners include a wide range of service providers such as surf schools, space owners, catering businesses, and coding bootcamps.
Teamy, founded in 2019, is currently operating in Lisbon and Porto and plans to expand into Spain by the end of the year. It will also “probably” offer its services in Algarve in the future.
Filipa says entering the Spanish market makes sense because of not only the geographical proximity but also the similarity in the way suppliers and corporate providers in Portugal and Spain work.
Asked about their main clients, Teamy’s co-founder said their main focus was initially on small and medium companies.
“But we also had interest from bigger companies because mainly bigger companies are investing a lot in culture, which means that they book a lot of these events and organize a lot of perks for their teams,” she noted, adding that they intend to make team building a hassle-free experience for all types of companies.
Elaborating further on the activities that companies can book for their teams, Filipa said they suit all kinds of requirements and occasions, ranging from celebrating a milestone and having some fun to reserving a retreat where team members can focus on establishing a business roadmap.
“We also have training, meaning that we have some facilitators who design workshops that are focused on, for example, conflict resolution or time management, depending on the goal that the company has,” Teamy’s co-founder explained.
Teamy Talks is another new initiative by Teamy, in which experts talk about different topics such as team management or maintaining employee engagement after scaling up the business. Teamy Talks are expected to be held every two months.
On the most popular activities on their platform, she said, “One of the things we’re getting a lot of requests for is picnics. I think that’s such a nice idea. We have a few suppliers that do this in such a beautiful, sustainable way. They take teams and small groups to really nice countryside spots or parks where people can just chat and create a moment.”
“We also have the traditional ones always requested, like escape rooms, paintball, and kart racing. We’re also getting a lot of requests for training. So people want to invest a lot more in their teams and are looking for soft skills, including how to improve communication within teams. Anything that has to do with health is also something that we get requested quite a lot.”
Filipa Manita, co-founder at Teamy, says they plan to expand into Spain by the end of the year.
On the criteria for choosing their partners, Filipa said they are selected based on demand. “We try to be ahead of what our customers will be potentially looking for.”
It makes sense to start contacting suppliers that are going to get booked within the next two to three months, she added. “For example, we’re now looking at suppliers who can host amazing summer party experiences for companies.”
Filipa says they keep working on their platform based on what customers have been telling them. “We changed the prototype that we launched last year in March about two times until we had something that companies would use.”
Teamy has so far received positive feedback, especially from people that are in charge of organizing team-building events and activities for their companies.
“They say that it’s great to find new activities because, at some point, you don’t know what else you can organize for your team,” Filipa said, adding that it shows Teamy not only facilitates the booking process but also is a source of inspiration and helps companies keep abreast of the latest trends.
“Another thing we heard from companies is that there’s usually a lot of long email threads so that’s helpful to not have those long email threads as well because all communications are centralized on just one platform.”
Price transparency, the use of technology, and the diversity of the activities available is what sets Teamy apart.Filipa Manita, co-founder at Teamy
Teamy has taken the path of bootstrapping, which Filipa calls a “difficult” but “rewarding” experience that allows owners to focus more on customers and understand what works and what doesn’t work.
“For us it’s really important that we find our market fit and that we understand how we can improve customer adoption… We wanted to use what’s available on the market and try to be as creative as possible to make sure that we improve our idea without requesting funding. That has been our main goal. I think it’s possible and can be done, and you can just leave investment as a last resort to make your business happen.”
In her view, companies can seek investment if they need it. “Just be aware that it’s gonna be a full-time job to look for funding.”
Teamy’s logo, which features a penguin, clearly mirrors its founders’ desire to positively impact the culture of teamwork.
“We wanted something fresh and friendly both to communicate easily with companies and inspire them. We also wanted something that could represent how a great team should be,” she said, adding that she chose penguin when she was asked to liken Teamy to an animal.
“I think it’s appropriate because penguins live in groups and don’t usually have an alpha male that leads the colony. So it’s usually teamwork. That’s how we think a team should work,” Filipa said.