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Lisbon is the new Berlin

Photograph Tramway à Lisbonne by yannick le goff on 500px

Tramway à Lisbonne by yannick le goff on 500px

This morning I stumbled upon a blog post by a Berlin-based venture capitalist (Ciarán O’Leary) talking about how Lisbon feels like the next Berlin. In other words, it feels like the next great European startup hub.

Here’s his reasoning:

  • The tech scene is organic – it happened on its own, came out of nowhere. That is much more fun and sustainable than any kind of political or targeted economic strategy.
  • There are a ton of constraints (funding, local talent base, etc.) so entrepreneurs need to hustle to make things happen. Hustle is good.
  • Berlin was an economic void, Portugal had a massive economic crisis and Lisbon sure isn’t letting that crisis go to waste.
  • Entrepreneurship has the real chance to be a center stage act, not a side gig. It’s everywhere.
  • The city is very, very cool. You just want to be here.
  • You can have a great life on a startup salary.
  • Everyone speaks english; everyone is welcoming and open. That matters a lot when you want to attract international talent and funding.

Of course, he’s not the only one calling Lisbon the next Berlin. The EU also named Lisbon “the most entrepreneurial region in Europe in 2015.” Isn’t it interesting what can grow out of economic crisis? See PIGS.

I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that Monocle held its first ever Quality of Life Conference in Lisbon. It’s a testament to O’Leary’s point above that, “You just want to be here.”

And while being “very, very cool” may not seem immediately relevant to creating a robust startup environment, it really is. It may be the most important point. It makes the city a magnet for talent. 

Just the other day I was trying to explain Berlin to someone and I used a similar lexicon. I said: “It’s an unbelievably cool city. It bleeds hipness. You will love it.”

If you’re a city, that’s a great thing to be.

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