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It may have been a Saturday, but that didn’t stop attendees heading back to the Alfândega do Porto Congress Center today for the third and final day of the inaugural SIM Conference (Startups & Investment Matching) organised and hosted by Startup Portugal.

Over the last two and a half days more than 2,000 attendees (40% international) have descended on the beautiful city of Porto to showcase and discuss the most pressing topics impacting the Portuguese and wider European ecosystem.

Made up of investors, startups, founders, entrepreneurs, dignitaries, government ministers and media, attendees have had the opportunity to experience an event refreshingly without an agenda dictated by corporate sponsors.

Instead, we’ve heard advice on how to maximise your chances of securing investment, why the Portuguese startup landscape is thriving, and how startups can deliver the ‘perfect pitch’ to VCs. We’ve also heard that Porto is home to the best seafood in the world, and that it’s high time the north of Portugal got some of the attention often reserved for the equally beautiful city of Lisbon.

On the final day of the conference there was a live podcast recording of Founder Tales, with Cristina Fonseca, General Partner at Indico Capital Ventures, one of the special guests on the Startup Stage.

As a serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Talkdesk, which became Portugal’s third unicorn after a Series B raise of $100m at a valuation of over $1bn in 2018, Cristina gave attendees her take on how founders today can best set themselves up for success.

One of the keys to this, she explained, is that founders need to have energy and resilience, while acknowledging that at times it’s hard to find the balance between being resilient and knowing when it’s time to admit defeat and move on. Related to this is the need to be grounded in reality given that investors see a lot of founders today who are solving obvious problems but without having a competitive advantage.

Other important tips included early acceptance that you’re going to make mistakes – and lots of them. The key however is how quickly you fix them – because the faster you do this and the quicker you iterate, the nearer your path to success will be.

But the piece of advice that resonated most to my ears, and certainly seemed to chime with the overall theme of the event in connecting startups and prospective investors, is that raising from the right people is much better than raising at the best terms.

With that, it’s over to Lisbon and the 2025 edition.


James Meredith

James is a Director at Liberty Communications

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