Beta-start: an unexpected ending for an unexpected program

Beta-start: an unexpected ending for an unexpected program

Beta-start’s 12th Edition ended precisely 10 days ago – disclaimer: this is an emotional blogpost.

Every Beta-start edition is special. And this is mostly due to its participants. I’m not talking about the idea or success of the startups that “survive” but, the people. These men and women who were bold enough to pause their lives for 4 weeks in order to come learn how to validate and continuously test their business assumptions. For that they deserve our respect, no matter how crazy some ideas may seem.

6 startups + 1 pitched brilliantly on the Demo Day. They had it all: the well-structured pitch, the pretty design slides and the charisma, it was an interesting moment and the perfect ending for this program. But, why 6 + 1? Well, this is a program about validation and getting facts to support your assumptions, meaning: it is more than okay when participants decide not to continue with their projects if they understand that somehow their initial idea is no longer viable – so we had 6 pitches on projects and 1 on learning, decisions and conclusions after validation.

So, in short the outcomes of this batch:

André was our plus one here and he is now taking some time for ideation  – my guess is he will integrate a startup team soon 🙂

Miles ‘n’ Dreams: Sofia rebranded her project and aims to build a marketplace for destination weddings.

Viable: Jaime and Manuel, are true hustlers, now with a new business model and different targets for their entrepreneurship viability platform.

meTour: Christine pivoted within the same solo traveler market and is now focusing more in offering better prices to solo travelers by doing shared tourism and leisure activities.

Buzaco:  Diogo is still materializing (literally) your outdoor furniture dreams now with full power.

Sweat Experience: Alex, Andrew and Marvin are now back in the UK full powering their platform for athletes posting their stories and achievements I bet we will hear from them soon.

FlyPilot: The platform for renting airplanes is now taking off, Miguel has his numbers in order and is ready to his MVP.

We always wanted Beta-start to be a mind shifting experience and this was precisely what happened with more than 100 mentoring sessions, 13 workshops, a lot of pitch practicing, tailored help and networking. It is hard to describe how much they evolved during these 4 weeks mainly in terms of pitching and having their business ideas structured.

There is no other acceleration program like Beta-start. No other program provides this much freedom to projects that gradually may evolve to startups. No strings attached in a program where ideas are never stupid (at least before validation) yet demanding enough to set the pace and a “must-deliver” culture.

Excited? Want to more about one of these startups or about our pre-accelerators?

Email me:

Meet the New Beta-Starters @ Beta-Start Teams

Meet the New Beta-Starters @ Beta-Start Teams

Startups are, above all things, about people. These last days we had the chance to meet the new entrepreneurs that were selected for the Beta-Start program and see their determination on taking the first step into the Startup world. Here’s your chance to also get to know them.

Beta-Start 2016 Spring Edition just kicked off last week with seven teams ready to take their ideas to the next level during an intensive one-month program. Beta-Start was designed to help all those that have an idea and the drive to make it happen, guiding them through the first steps on building a Startup. Through a strong network of experts and mentors, these entrepreneurs will learn all the basis that will allow them to build a sustainable business.

Beta-Start program



The workshops and talks cover subjects like Lean Innovation, Startup Culture, Validation Tools, How to talk with your Costumers, Prototyping, from Concept do MVP, How to Pitch and Go-to-Market strategy.

One of the most exciting aspects of the program is how we’ll probably witness some of the teams absorb all the learnings and customer feedback and start applying them into some very interesting pivots.


So we’re proud to present you our Beta-Starters and the market they’re addressing

Always on the Go: Sofia was born in Rio de Janeiro, grew up in Portugal and lived in Mozambique. With a strong background in Events and Communication she saw the main challenges in the industry at an international level and she’s now developing a way to bring that expertise to the market creating a channel that allows party planners and events organizers to plan their events abroad.

Buzaco: Diogo has already studied and worked in 6 different countries and his experience in a familiar business led him to the idea of creating an online community where designers, producers and consumers can work together to produce outdoor furniture that not only has a functional side but also a focus on design, contributing to a modern outdoor aesthetics.

FlyPilot: It was ever since a kid that Miguel wanted to build things, fly airplanes and study the stars. He’s currently a pilot so he’s now focused on his other goal, “build things”, developing a platform where plane owners can either rent them or promote plane tours.

Off the Line: Nowadays everyone is focused on online marketing, but the offline campaigns continue to be a major focus for medium-sized and big brands. That’s the opportunity Andre, with a Masters in Marketing, is addressing by creating a platform that allows marketing managers or CEO’s to choose where they’ll invest their budgets by analyzing the ROI of all the different offline channels.

Solo with Cris: Passionate about travelling, foreign countries and different cultures, Chris is also a true believer of the work-life balance and she’s now applying her vast experience as a solo traveller to create a platform that promotes and guides all those that travel by themselves, allowing them to make the most out of each place they visit.

Sweat Experience: Marvin graduated in Business Management and always had an interest for everything that surrounds digital identity and online self-representation. Andrew, who has a background in Computer Science, worked at IBM and shares Marvin’s passion for sports and innovation creates a team that is working on an active network whereby athletes can showcase their stories and gain support.

Viable: Jaime and Manuel were both at the Entrepreneurship Course at the Lisbon MBA, where their idea was born. They’re looking to create a way that allows all the stakeholders in the entrepreneurship world (entrepreneurs, incubators, accelerators, investors and funds) to evaluate projects in a simpler way, optimizing resources (financial, human and time).

All of these Beta-Starters have already taken the first step by having the courage to start working on their own ideas. Now it’s time to survive the Bootcamp.

Unfortunately, Eminem isn’t one of our mentors, but he perfectly summarizes the challenge at Beta-Start:

“Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?”

Build your own startup in Lisbon – apply to Beta-start (until Feb-7)

Build your own startup in Lisbon – apply to Beta-start (until Feb-7)


Even when you think you have it all figured out – your business idea is so good you will sell thousands and you will get rich or die trying — you need to stop for a moment and get some insights from people other than your friends and family (as in, your mother will always brag about your business but your customers won’t – unless you do things right).

And that’s where we come in…

Beta-start is here to push you off the cliff (not literally I guess) and help you build your product on the way down. No safety nets or safe landings, this is the real deal.

You’ll get to talk to talented entrepreneurs and be mentored by them. They’ve done it once before, some have failed, others have not, and you’ll get to learn from all those experiences and test your own theories.    

Beta-start is all about trial and error. We give you the right tools and it’s up to you to put it into practice. You’ll learn all you need to know to start your own business: lean methodologies, how to design a business model and build a product, work on your marketing strategy and learn how to deliver the perfect pitch.

Our pre-accelerator for idea stage startups, is already going for its 12th run and we know exactly what we’re doing. We’ve seen startups such as GetSocial, Pumpkin or Line Health take their very first steps and we want to keep pushing bold entrepreneurs forward and help build the next generation of startups, from Lisbon to the world.

If you’re a passionate, resilient and ambitious entrepreneur who is just getting started with your business come and talk to us. We have open applications until the 7th of February.

Now, it’s entirely up to you to make your ideas happen. Get your application started right here.

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Photo Gallery: Beta-start crazy 3 week journey

Photo Gallery: Beta-start crazy 3 week journey

beta-start blogpost

It’s three weeks now since Beta-start kicked-off and time has been flying among so many interesting activities hosted during this crazy journey. The 10 teams have been growing fast with the support of many mentors and coaches that are coming around to help them on the project development.

Cristina Fonseca, co-founder at Talkdesk, one of the fastest growing companies in San Francisco, is coaching one team as well as Diogo Ortega from Line Health (Beta-start alumni), Tiago Franco from Imaginary Cloud and many others.

The team building activity with which they started the journey is, so far, one of the highlights of the program and resulted in a goldfish adoption – Margaret. Other highlights include the workshop From Concept to MVP by Diogo Teles, Head of Product at Faber Ventures or the Business Model Innovation by Manuel Tânger.

They’ve been able to narrow down their business ideas and focus on core features with the help of the above mentioned coaches and many others. The feedback has been so valuable that one team is actually pivoting. Kudos to our Beta-starters and keep up with the great job on the last week of the program.






























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The One-line Elevator Pitch

The One-line Elevator Pitch


It seems that the one-line elevator pitch continues to weave itself into every pitch, presentation, conversation and/or casual meetup. There are many that believe we should be able to summarize everything and everyone in one sentence. This is probably due to the fact that we live in a world of instant gratification, are short of time and of course apt at the 140 character status updates or sharing of wisdom.

There is something magical about “15,000 songs in your pocket”, the famous line used to explain to the world what the Apple iPod did. Though its success was more than the explanation, it was incredible to see the simplicity in the message, helping people to instantly understand two important selling points of the iPod – its physical size and its virtual memory. Until then, most potential customers of mp3 players had no idea what MB and GB meant or what it amounted to. “15,000 songs” was easily understood and the message was simple – to all effects, you could now have your entire music collection on this one device that fitted in practically any pocket.

However, somewhere along the line, the startup ecosystem has forced the one-liners into the mix, making it a headache for most founders and some comic relief for innocent bystanders. It should be no surprise that one-liners actually emerged in standup comedy.

In 2013, Chris Eleftheriadis wrote a blog post for Vision Mobile, a leading research company in the app economy, titled “The Art of One-line Pitching: A Study of AngelList”, whereby Chris shares his insights on how startups communicate their value proposition to investors.

One of the greatest challenges today for startups is that they may seem to address one problem, yet they use a variety of cross platform techniques such as mobile, social, e-commerce, media, review systems, etc.

The purpose of the one-liner is to garner immediate interest in what you are about to present. One false move and you might as well be talking to yourself. Get it right and you’ve set the stage complete with an attentive audience. It can be that cut throat.

Understandably, many founders obsess with finding the right combination of words to accurately describe their future resorting to comparisons with established and successful startups – “The AirBnb for students”. Yet many mentors are against this as it shows a lack of originality and may actually taint the pitch or worse, disengage those on the receiving end. Referencing other companies is always a gamble because it piggybacks on already successful companies when the core idea should stand out on its own. Like most of the decisions you will have to take – make it yours and feel comfortable with it.

The study set out to find the most popular companies referenced and their insights are quite revealing. They found more than 60 companies referenced by the 1700 startups in the study, the top 10 accounting for nearly half of all references on AngelList.

Though LinkedIn topped the list, which seems surprising to me as the majority of the startups I come across are B2C and not B2B, you probably won’t be surprised to see Pinterest, eBay, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, Groupon, Airbnb, Youtube and Amazon on that list. The most interesting part of the study is the 9 types of pitch references.

  1. The most commonly found references:
    – X for Y: Yammer for Education.
    – X meets Y: Yelp meets Hipster meets Foursquare:
    – The X of Y: The Pinterest of online dating
  1. Comic, ironic and/or sarcastic:
    – Facebook for the dead
    – Instagram for basketball junkies
    – Think “Netflix for Grandma” + “Help, I’ve fallen and I cant get up”
    – Yelp for medical marijuana.
  1. Though I suspect this is the least effective, it was the third most widely used reference – “we’re doing same thing as them but better”. Though it may play to the comfort of similarity, it’s a huge risk:
    – Better than Amazon’s customer experience for any Brand
    – LinkedIn on Steroids
    – Search engine that beats’s fares by up to 80%.
  1. In a world of mathematics, this one is for the geeks:
    – (Google x Facebook x Amazon) + (Universal Reviews)
    – Ebay+Soundcloud
    – Instagram + Trips = …

For more examples, check out the post here.

So. Are you ready to get started? If you need help to validate your idea and learn how to ignite your startup you should apply to Beta-Start by September the 13th.

Food for thought from the conclusion of the article:

“With 95% of referenced startups being marketplaces, the mechanisms for creating and capturing value in today’s digital world are governed by what we call ecosystem economics. Today’s innovation lies more in business models than technology.”


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