“After working in an investment fund, I opened a coworking space in Lisbon”

Posted on November 14, 2022, 07:01

“After my BA in Paris, I embarked on communication studies at ISCOM. Making communication is not a vocation, the idea came to me after talking to a supervisor. At the time, I was lost and didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I do well to listen to her because, deep down, I love my studies and above all my internships.

At the end of my course, I do an internship at a start-up accelerator in London. I was lucky enough to be there, then hired as a ‘marketing manager’. My role: manage the launch of the startup acceleration program and publicize it. After two years, I decided to look elsewhere.

I joined the marketing team of YPlan, a London start-up – very popular at the time – that developed an application to book tickets for various events (concerts, plays, exhibitions…). I am responsible for the relationship with clients, events and social networks. Six months after my arrival, I was called on a Monday morning with thirty of my colleagues, including my manager. The two co-founders tell us that the adventure is now over, for lack of money, and that we can go home. At 24, forge!

I recover as a freelancer, organizing London events that bring together start-ups, large groups and investment funds. These ‘events’ take place in London, Miami, Singapore and Bahrain. A great experience to continue discovering the start-up ecosystem.

Discover Lisbon in times of health crisis

At 28, I returned to Paris. I always thought that at 30 I would have my own business. Before diving in, it seems interesting to me to have experience in an investment fund. To do what ? Get to know the backstage of the financial sector and find out how fundraising takes place. So, in December 2018, I joined CapHorn Invest, a European venture capital fund. I was hired there as an ‘ecosystem manager’. My mission: publicize the fund and portfolio start-ups, organize community events for our entrepreneurs and connect them to our network of investors and large groups.

At the time of the second confinement, I decided to fly to Lisbon to practice at a distance. I really need to get away from Paris, where I live at the time. The colours, the energy, the people, the proximity to nature, the climate… I fell in love with the Portuguese capital, where I spent three months before returning to Paris. A few months later, I left my box on a whim.

I’m packing my bags, heading to Lisbon, where I’m moving in September 2021. At the time I was 30 years old and I didn’t have any specific professional project in mind. I delve into the local ecosystem and walk through the few coworking spaces, places that have always inspired me a lot. I’m not convinced by the offer: they are often poorly placed, poorly organized and not very easy to use. Convinced that it would be interesting to open one, I start looking for a place.

I know the owners of a palace in early January 2022, in one of the best areas of the city, Príncipe Real. I shared a business plan with them and managed to convince them to give me two floors of the building, free of charge, to convert into a coworking space. Another good news, they fully finance the development of the space (painting on the walls, furniture and especially the installation of fiberboard!). I’m in charge of running the place and making it known. We agree to share the profits.

The place, called “A Dama Rosa”, opens its doors on the 1st.er February 2022. After a few weeks it is already very full. It is full of freelancers, entrepreneurs and employees who have decided to work remotely abroad. Most are French and English, with an average age of around 35 years. I also host a French start-up and a Portuguese digital marketing agency. In all, the site houses about 50 members. Some rent an office per month (between 219 and 289 euros per month), others per week (89 euros).

In addition to the coworking space, I now manage a new space, located on the top floor of the palace and intended to host events (seminars, conferences, workshops, etc.). It’s in high demand!

Goal: open new spaces

What satisfies me most in my new life? The amazing get-togethers I make every day in the coworking space and at events. I also feel a great freedom in having my own business. But this has a downside. Doing business alone is sometimes difficult. We get discouraged so easily, we doubt all the time and we can only count on ourselves!

For me, entrepreneurship requires a little (a lot of) courage and a mind of steel. In moments of doubt, I sometimes think about the periods when I had a permanent contract, when I had a simpler, less intense, less stressful, more comfortable life. It’s not always easy to realize your ideas when you’re not in your own country, even more so when you don’t speak the language (even though I’m learning Portuguese).

However, I will never regret my choice. Today I have a life that suits me. And I believe that doing business in Portugal is a good decision. There are not as many players in the startup ecosystem (investment funds, accelerators and incubators, etc.) as in Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin or London, but this is developing. Hence the opportunities that arise, especially in coworking spaces. It is said that Lisbon is on its way to becoming Europe’s new ‘Silicon Valley’ and that the country has put in place many advantages, including economic and fiscal ones, to attract entrepreneurs from all over the world. The real advantage here is that you can create a project quickly thanks to a powerful and benevolent network and strong mutual support among entrepreneurs.

There are many atypical buildings in Lisbon that are empty, abandoned for years or waiting for purchase or renovation. They could, however, be quickly converted into ephemeral coworking spaces. Also, I am now working on opening a second coworking space. The opening is scheduled for early 2023 and will be entirely dedicated to Web3 entrepreneurs. a very promising sector that attracts a lot of talent here! 🇧🇷

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