Lisbon is a standout hub for startups in terms of “cohesive appeal”, says the founder of ripatrip, who has experienced for himself that the low cost of living in the Portuguese capital provides entrepreneurs with a longer runway.
Brennan Basnicki had worked for a decade in quantitative trading in Toronto, New York City, and Illinois before deciding to take a new career path to help solve a problem he had faced for many years: planning trips that offer an opportunity to engage in outdoor pursuits.
Ripatrip, his brainchild born in Startup Lisboa, is on a mission to make it easier for travelers to quickly find the best destinations for their perfect holiday trips through crunching millions of data points.
It has launched first with kitesurf travel and plans to expand into skiing, surfing, hiking, and more in the near future.
Asked why he chose Lisbon to establish his business, Brennan told Via News in an exclusive interview that a combination of factors led to his decision and there was no close No. 2 after Portugal.
“First and foremost would probably be Startup Lisboa. When we looked at incubators around the world…, Startup Lisboa really stuck out in terms of what they offered, the program, the reputation, and the fact that I was in Lisbon.”
He was referring to the leading incubator in Lisbon, which began its activities in February 2012.
Startup Lisboa has so far supported around 400 startups and entrepreneurs from over 40 countries through offering various incubation and acceleration programs, setting up strategic partnerships, facilitating access to investment and funding, and providing accommodation and workspace.
Brennan says the culture in Lisbon is “awesome” and the low cost of living in the city means that startups can have a longer runway.
The climate is also great, especially for the activities that ripatrip is offering, he noted, calling Portugal a “very outdoor society”.
In his opinion, some other advantages of Lisbon include airport accessibility, the prevalence of the English language, and the strong work-life balance.
“Having spent 10 years in institutional investment management, a lot of my former peers and friends back home are slaves to their careers. I was looking for somewhere where I could find a little bit more balance.”
Brennan says the “thriving” startup community and the community spirit in Lisbon is a “big appeal”.
“It is an actual community,” he said, adding that the Portuguese capital has more of a “community feel” compared to New York or Toronto where he has lived and worked. “That alone is a huge strength.”
Ripatrip’s founder also appreciates the fact that all the accelerators and incubators here are very much intertwined. “There are strong relationships. People talk to each other. There’s a very strong mentor network.”
The “thriving” startup community and the community spirit in Lisbon is a “big appeal”.Brennan Basnicki, founder of ripatrip
On the challenges that Portugal has to overcome to maintain its new reputation as an attractive startup destination, Brennan said one of the drawbacks is that the country is still behind in terms of investment capital compared to the United States or some other Western European countries.
“That’s changing, and it will take time. It’s changed over the last couple of years.”
He added that the low cost of living in Portugal is a boon but low wages means that some Portuguese would end up moving to other European countries for higher-paying opportunities.
“In terms of the cohesive appeal, Lisbon is definitely a standout. No city of course checks all the boxes, and, for us at least, Lisbon checked more of those boxes.”
When asked what pieces of advice he would give to startup owners or aspirant entrepreneurs, he said they should come up with some sort of plan or timeline to keep track of the implementation of OKRs—Objectives and Key Results.
“Hold yourself accountable or create a way of holding yourself and your team accountable,” Brennan said, adding that it can be done through the help of advisors.
Also, he said entrepreneurs should not underestimate how long certain things can take.
Entrepreneurs should come up with some sort of plan or timeline to keep track of the implementation of OKRs—Objectives and Key Results.Brennan Basnicki, founder of ripatrip
On when startups should look for investment, the founder of ripatrip said, “Ideally never if you can avoid it.”
“When we first started, we were definitely looking at the stereotypical startup approach of starting to build and looking for investment, whereas if I could go back, I would prioritize the revenue model.”
He added that the right time for seeking investment varies for everyone. “It can take a lot longer or does take a lot longer. So if you think you need money in three months or six months, you needed to start a long time ago.”