Lisbon Challenge: the 10-week journey is just the beginning

The 11th edition of Lisbon Challenge is officially closed! It was a long journey, from the first day and first pitch to the Demo Day at Lisbon Investment Summit, where the founders were challenged at every stage.

The different phases

For 10 weeks, the teams went through an intense program, filled with enriching content, workshops and mentoring sessions. The program is structured in four phases:

  • Validation: The founders started by validating their value proposition and gaining a better understanding of what could be their target audience and their potential needs.
  • Product And Tech: This phase meant a deep-dive into the startups’ solutions and the technology behind them, defining how is their project solving the clients’ needs better than any other out there, and designing a roadmap for product market fit.
  • Growth: At this third phase, founders learned how to talk with customers and make sure they don’t leave after trying the product – in other words, it was all about client retention and which metrics should be analyzed in order to figure it out.
  • Investment: The teams learned to understand investors, and what they are looking for. But also, what to say to investors to tell their story and secure investment.

People-centric approach

The value proposition brought by Lisbon Challenge it’s its unique people-centric approach – a Beta-i landmark.

This approach is about bringing a people-centered vision to the founders’ businesses, keeping in mind: Who are they building a solution for (getting to know their consumer), who are they building a solution with (building a team and company culture) and who they are as entrepreneurs (preparing founders’ for the future ahead).

Mentor-driven program

The Lisbon Challenge journey, taking them closer and closer to a product-market fit, is only possible thanks to the strong network of mentors, who have been through the same processes and similar experiences as entrepreneurs themselves.

Our 88 mentors, from different specialties – from branding and product to growth, from personal development to investment, have clocked in over 450+ hours of mentorship, giving the founders’ the tools they need to succeed.

The big stage at #LIS

The journey led the founders to the biggest stage in the investment arena: Lisbon Investment Summit – to an audience on national and international investors and innovators, in an event with over 1500 attendees.  

Originating from very different countries – this international cohort had startups from Portugal, UK, Italy, Ireland and USA – they took to the stage: OUTBOUND, VAIRT, FLOCK, CROWDBOOKS and SKOACH were the startups pitching.

The crowd had a say – they gave feedback live, through a form vote – and it was positive: over 50% of voters said that they wanted to meet and talk with the founders.

It’s only the beginning

For our founders, this is just the beginning – they are now ready to jump to the next stage: scaling. In the words of the team:
“We’re really proud of what we saw today. And today is just the beginning for these teams. They are already doing pilots with big corporates – all companies looking for innovative solutions should talk with these startups. They are a group of trusting, capable founders, with impactful solutions and a growth mindset. We’re excited to see the global impact they will bring in the future – we know they are ready to jump into scale.”

Smart Open Lisboa: Housing – What to expect at Demo Day

The Demo Day for the third edition of Smart Open Lisboa (SOL), an open-innovation program connecting some of the most relevant players in the residential and commercial real estate sector with startups to implement innovative solutions in the city of Lisbon, is fast approaching – join us next Thursday, June 27th, at Museu d Água to see the solutions presented.

What to Expect

For this second vertical of Smart Open Lisboa, focused on the residential and commercial real estate sector, a total of 19 startups were present at the Bootcamp, with several going forward for the pilot phase – there are a total of 27 pilots being developed.

A preview of the pilots

As the startups’ technologies can get applied to a multitude of businesses, they have joined the partners to test these solutions in the partners’ businesses, proving its effectiveness in bettering the lives oh thousand of people in Lisbon.

Here are a few examples of the technologies applied in the pilots, whose results will be presented by the startups and partners:

Alfredo AI

Alfredo’s machine learning algorithms will help a bank evaluate residential properties (without sharing any data with Alfredo) generating new credit leads and mitigating risk through an intelligent internal portfolio analysis. In this edition of SOL Housing, they tested it against the traditional way banks evaluate apartments and houses.

Nudge Portugal

Nudge Portugal developed a pilot to intervene in a commercial space’s food court to: increase the return of food trays, the screening of garbage for recycling in the food court as well as to avoid perpendicular queuing and corresponding blocking of corridors.


Meazon worked with the partners on the installation of energy submeters in a building to monitor the elevators and allow a faster service and predictive maintenance through analytics and alerts based on the customer needs using the power consumption or production data.


This startup developed a system to measure electricity use and other data in the homes of older people, identifying events that describe the activity and building routine patterns. Then, they look for anomalies and send status alerts to families.


This startup developed software of predictive maintenance of water leakages or bursts in a determined neighborhood, by a collection of data with sensor networks and machine learning algorithms.

Join us

If you want to see, first hand, the results of this live experimentation in Lisbon, join us at Museu da Água, June 27th for SOL Housing Demo Day.

Free Electrons Utilities: ESB and EDP

One of the characteristics that make Free Electrons a huge opportunity for startups is that it is truly global: the startups joining the program will get a chance to work with 10 global utilities, with experience and big markets under their belt.

Let’s get to know two of the utilities that are part of the Free Electrons utility alliance.

Electricity Supply Board (ESB)

ESB is Ireland’s leading energy company, operating across the full spectrum of the electricity market: from generation, through transmission and distribution to supply. In addition, ESB extracts further value at certain points along this chain: supplying gas, using their networks to carry fibre for telecommunications, developing electric vehicle public charging infrastructure and an international consultancy arm which has worked in 120 countries globally.

We spoke with John Mckiernan, Head of external collaboration at ESB, who gave an overview of ESB’s participation in Free Electrons: it’s their third edition, and they are still working with the startups they piloted with in the first two editions – working with both towards low-cost, low-carb energy – as their customers expect.

John highlighted the sharing of information between all the utilities as a key factor to the success of Free Electrons:

No utility has a monopoly on wisdom. So, we’re actually comparing and contrasting, shoulder to shoulder, with the other utilities. It’s the proof of the pudding. It’s another facet of Free Electrons that is allowing us to see more and understand more.

As an advice for startups joining open-innovation programs, John advised them to “learn as much as possible about the partner” and their needs to make the matching easier and “keeping it simple”.

Watch the whole interview here:

Energias de Portugal (EDP)

EDP is an energy producer, distributor and retailer with around 12 million customers in Portugal, Spain and Brazil. EDP is also the 4th largest wind power producer in the world. The renewable power business is present in 14 countries including the US, Brazil, Spain and the UK.

We spoke with Luís Manuel, Executive Board Member at EDP Innovation, who told of EDP’s journey at Free Electrons. In the first edition, they were still learning the process, but by the second edition, they had doubled the number of deals made in the program – they amount to over 12 pilots by now.

What he says has been consistent in the editions is the fantastic community spirit that is lived in Free Electrons, that they have embraced fully:

I think, above all, what we try to make sure is that as much opportunities as possible for our business units’ people to interact with the startups. We believe that is key – engaging people is really what makes business happen.

He believes that what is changing in the industry is that is looking towards things that are not usually associated with the energy sector: data management, artificial intelligence and digitization processes. So, EDP is looking for a mix of solutions – between traditional energy fields and this technological revolution.

Watch the whole interview here:

The second module of Free Electrons is arriving – it will happen on the 25th – 28th of June in Hong Kong. In this module the teams will deep dive into the details of each others’ solutions.

We also expect to see a better definition of the scope of potential pilot projects, and a strong connection with the local ecosystem as the module offers an immersion in the world’s leading cleantech innovation ecosystem, connecting startups to the epicenter of the technology world.

Beta-i Alumni highlighted at Entrepreneur Awards XXI

Several Portuguese startups and Beta-i open-innovation alumni were highlighted in the event.

The EntrepreneurXXI Awards are an initiative that seeks to identify, recognize and accompany young companies with greater growth potential.

At this year’s event, the spotlight was on portuguese startups Seacliq (invested by LC Ventures) and HUUB, both having created digital platforms to simplify the direct negotiation between providers and buyers in their respective industries (fishing and fashion).

Other notable portuguese finalists include LOQR (Free Electrons Alumni) in Fin&Insur Tech category, NU-RISE and PeekMed (Protechting alumni) in the Health Tech category.

The Winners

Agro Tech

Seacliq is a new electronic platform for the first sale of fish based on blockchain.

Fin&Insur Tech

Predictiva has developed, with technology based on artificial intelligence, a superbot specialized in the analysis and interpretation of spontaneous speech.

Commerce Tech

HUUB is an integrated logistics platform for the fashion industry.

Tourism Tech

Tracer has created a system based on blockchain to avoid the problem of abusive resale of tickets at major music and sports events.

Health Tech

Glycardial Diagnostics is working on the development of an in vitro diagnostic device (IVD) for the early detection of cardiac ischemia and prediction of patient evolution.

Impact Tech

Feltwood has developed an innovative process to transform agricultural vegetal residues into ecological industrial material of multiple applications and with characteristics similar to materials such as plastic or wood.

Lisbon Challenge had its Demo Day at Lisbon Investment Summit

Lisbon Challenge, Beta-i’s acceleration program, had its Demo Day on the last day of Lisbon Investment Summit, on June 7th.

The Challenge

Lisbon Challenge is an intense 10 week program (see exactly how intense here), designed to question the founders’ assumptions, help them find their product-market fit and prepare them for the road ahead – scaling and investment.

And, boy, were they challenged! In the end, it paid off – the teams learned to turn their pains into gains, and they were ready to take the stage at Lisbon Investment Summit – to an audience on national and international investors and innovators, in an event with over 1500 attendees.  

The Pitches

At Lisbon Investment Summit, five Lisbon Challenge teams took to the stage to present their companies, in a truly international cohort: the startups originated from: Portugal, UK, Italy, Ireland and USA.

Presented by António Carlos Torrão, Strategic Marketing Manager at BPI:

OUTBOUND: Providing instant access to your ideal customer with proven interest, through an AI based Sales Platform for B2B Lead Generation, so you can focus on what really matters: closing deals.

Presented by Pedro Falcão, Managing Partner at LC Ventures:

VAIRT: Making real estate investment accessible for all, through a global marketplace for real estate investment and liquidation based on blockchain technology.

Presented by Pedro Bandeira, Founder and CEO at REDangels:

FLOCK: Building engaged cultures through quantified real engagement and increased productivity of the workforce, by plugging into the internal communication channels of the customers.

Presented by Roberto Antunes, Executive Director at NEST Turismo de Portugal

CROWDBOOKS: Empowering any author to sell & publish their books, through a crowdfunding publishing platform.

Presented by Nuno Pimenta, Industry Head Startups at Google:

SKOACH: Maximizing employee life-time value, by helping people love their jobs – through a bot plugged into the internal communications channels of the company.

The Feedback

Besides the adrenaline rush of pitching on stage for a crowd of investors, entrepreneurs and corporations, the best part of the pitching is the feedback: the crowd has spoken (through a form vote) and over 50% of voters said that they wanted to meet and talk with the founders – which is the core of #LIS!

We at Beta-i are very proud of the founders who gave it all – during the program and on stage at #LIS. In the words of the Lisbon Challenge team:

“We’re really proud of what we saw today. And today is just the beginning for these teams. They are already doing pilots with big corporates – all companies looking for innovative solutions should talk with these startups. They are a group of trusting, capable founders, with impactful solutions and a growth mindset. We’re excited to see the global impact they will bring in the future – we know they are ready to jump into scale.”

SIBS Payforward Alumni Interview: Elecctro

Elecctro was part of the second edition of SIBS Payforward, the first fintech accelerator in Portugal. Created in 2014, the portuguese startup is disrupting the vending machine market, by integrating software and electronics, to allow vending machines to communicate with the world around them.

Even though they were not an immediate fit for the open banking challenge, they took on SIBS challenge and showed them how much value they could bring to the fintech area, making it to the pilot development stage of the program.

ReThink spoke with Ricardo Jacinto, co-founder and Head of Finance at Elecctro, about the startups participation in the open-innovation program.

ReThink: What attracted Elecctro to SIBS Payforward?

Ricardo Jacinto: For Elecctro, when we applied to SIBS Pay Forward, we believed it would be a great opportunity to increase our knowledge and expertise on the payments’ value chain, particularly by working with a corporation like SIBS, which is one of the main players in the industry in Portugal. At the time, we are already discussing new ways of cooperation with SIBS, but we applied to find an approach to fit the Open Banking API to our needs of developing a global and scalable payment solution.

RT: How did the program helped you grow? What were your main learnings during the program?

RJ: Although the requirements of Open Banking API were not suited to the vending industry, the program went very well because SIBS saw on Elecctro an opportunity to tackle a huge market where banks, processors and acquirers are getting zero. We were able to get SIBS’ attention to the vending industry and it was done on SIBS Pay Forward.

RT: How did your partnership with SIBS helped your business?

RJ: The opportunity to meet with almost all the managers and directors of the different departments of SIBS allowed us to establish connections and speed up the process of certification for the first payment terminal for vending in Portugal. Still today we keep several contacts that help on different perspectives: technical, commercial, etc.

RT: What advice do you give to startups currently in the program?

RJ: They should understand how exactly they can be interesting to SIBS and how they can help SIBS grow its business and strengthen its position in the market. If SIBS acknowledges the potential in a project and sees how it can benefit from a partnership, I believe they definitely will help that project to succeed.

Follow the third edition of SIBS Payforward via social media at SIBS Payforward Facebook Page.