Corporations used to look at the startup community the same way people visit a zoo, says an entrepreneurial expert, who believes that larger companies are getting more engaged with startups.

“I remember years ago startups were looked at like when you go to a zoo or an aquarium and say, ‘What a nice giraffe’ or ‘What a nice fish’. There was no real collaboration, but nowadays it is completely the opposite,” Ricardo Marvão, co-founder and board member of Beta-i, told Via News in an interview.

Beta-i is a Lisbon-based collaborative innovation consultancy with a global reach, which enables cooperation among government organizations, investors, and startups. It also helps companies innovate from within.

Beta-i connects a huge network of entrepreneurs, mentors, experts, investors, and knowledge institutions. (Photo credit: Beta-i)
Beta-i connects a huge network of entrepreneurs, mentors, experts, investors, and knowledge institutions. (Photo credit: Beta-i)

Ricardo says large corporations are now more eager to work with startups to find faster solutions they aren’t able to solve themselves for various reasons, including lack of time or financial and human resources.

“If it works once, then that company will talk to other people inside the corporate world, and they’ll start embracing the fact that they should start working more with startups that produce solutions for their problems.”

Apart from being a co-founder of Beta-i, Ricardo has had the experience of co-founding Evolve Space Solutions—a company developing software products for the aerospace industry with clients like ESA, Thales, Astrium, Inmarsat, Eumetsat, Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer. It was acquired by Novabase in 2011.

Diversified Experience

Asked about his tips for becoming a successful entrepreneur, he said having a knowledge and understanding of different fields can go a long way in today’s interconnected world of business.

“The more diversified experience you have in the beginning, the better off you are for the future of your professional life.”

Those areas may seem completely unrelated to each other but venturing into them can enrich one’s experience, he added.

“I think those are the opportunities that you should take because the world and the way we work will be very different in the coming 10 or 20 years. So the more you prepare and the more open you are to those changes, the better.”


On his approach to hiring, Ricardo said he usually goes for an hour-long conversation, trusts his gut feeling, and looks for telltale signs.

He believes that employers should find people that are “better” than them if they want to advance their plans more easily.

“If they’re better than you, they’ll be able to do the work that you want them to do without you having to tell them what they should do. It helps you focus on other important things,” he explained.

Economic Downturn

When asked how startups should prepare themselves to deal with recessions, the co-founder of Beta-i said one practical way is business diversification.

“Having clients in different countries and having different products with different prices to attract different clientele help you diversify your business and prepare yourself for decay in the economy.”

Entrepreneurs should also be aware that businesses who do not go for international clients are more likely to die out when economic conditions get tough, he added.