Startup Lisboa Rocket Program Review

Pavel Timofeev · July 4, 2023

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Rocket Program by Startup Lisboa with my startup, Cooper Pet Care. I felt inspired to share my personal journey with you all.

Why I Joined the Rocket Program

The Portuguese startup scene 🇵🇹 is positively buzzing, with innovative solutions making global impacts and events like the Web Summit putting Portugal on the tech map. This magnetic draw of opportunity, learning, and networking was too powerful to ignore for us at Cooper Pet Care.

I am a firm believer in the strength of structured planning and responsibility, which led me to seek further support. The Rocket Program offered just what we needed, with systematic weekly stand-up meetings and retrospective sessions to boost our productivity and focus.

Furthermore, Portugal, and Lisbon in particular, boasts a rich talent pool of skilled English-speaking engineers available at costs significantly lower than in the Netherlands. This was a factor in our idea to set up a tech hub in Lisbon - a move that is advantageous for both our budget and team quality.

Lastly, the thriving venture capital scene in Portugal has amplified our fundraising efforts, and pur association with Startup Lisboa is likely to draw the interest of eager investors.

The Program Structure

The Rocket Program by Startup Lisboa is a ten-week remote acceleration initiative meticulously crafted to spur startups’ growth. This program presents a wealth of learning and networking opportunities, flexibly designed to meet the dynamic needs of startups like ours.

The program is held every Friday via a 3-hour video call session, providing flexibility for startups to enroll at their convenience. With a focus on knowledge sharing, the program fosters a nurturing environment that encourages startup development and attracts investors.

Key elements of the Rocket Program include:

  • Conversations and Debates: These sessions offer real insights into the entrepreneurial journey, with guest speakers discussing their success stories and challenges.
  • Webinars: Hybrid sessions led by domain experts offer a platform for questions, idea exchange, and knowledge building.
  • Weekly Standups: Regular check-ins with the program team on project progress and obstacles, allowing for effective mentoring.
  • Open Startup: This part promotes a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing through open discussions on best practices.
  • Retrospectives: Quarterly opportunities for participants to assess past performance and set future Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), vital for strategic planning and continuous improvement.

In short, the Rocket Program provides a comprehensive incubation experience that fosters startup growth, knowledge gain, and community collaboration.

My Journey with the Rocket Program

My experience with the Rocket Program has been transformative for our startup. From day one, it felt like I was on a space mission fueled by innovation, knowledge sharing, and unwavering support.

The program coordinators, Sandra and João 👋, were like guiding stars throughout this journey. Their constant support, positivity, and enthusiasm made the unpredictable startup terrain easier to navigate.

The weekly learning sessions were a goldmine of knowledge, providing insights from venture capital to inspiring stories from seasoned entrepreneurs. These sessions ignited innovative ideas and broadened my perspective.

The weekly stand-ups with the program coordinators brought a sense of structure and focus. Planning weekly goals, evaluating progress, and tackling obstacles fostered a productivity-rich environment, keeping our momentum high.

One-on-one sessions allowed me to dive deep into our specific challenges, offering invaluable guidance. The usually daunting fundraising aspect was significantly eased by the Rocket Program’s extensive network and connections to potential investors.

Another highlight was the invaluable mentorship offered by a wide selection of industry veterans, which directly influenced our strategic decisions.

In all, my experience with the Rocket Program was great.

Any Room for Improvement?

While my experience with the Rocket Program was highly rewarding, I did identify a few areas that could be improved to better serve international startups like mine.

Firstly, while the remote participation offered flexibility and convenience, it did deprive us of certain opportunities. The Rocket Program offers in-person participation, where founders can use a co-working space in Lisbon. I did feel a hint of regret for missing out on face-to-face interactions with other founders and in-person events. These encounters could further enrich the collaborative spirit and provide invaluable networking opportunities.

Secondly, the fact that many Portuguese VC firms prefer to invest in local companies, possibly due to the SIFIDE tax incentive scheme, can be challenging for international startups. Widening the network to include more international VC firms or helping international startups navigate the local investment landscape would be valuable enhancements.

Despite these areas for improvement, my overall experience with the Rocket Program was fruitful, and I eagerly look forward to its evolution and the future entrepreneurs it will inspire.

Should You Join the Rocket Program?

If you’re running a startup in Portugal or the Iberian region, or if you’re targeting the Portuguese market, I strongly recommend the Rocket Program. The program offers resources and knowledge specific to this market, making it an ideal launchpad for such startups.

Early-stage startups will find immense value in this program. The Rocket Program smooths the challenging journey of building a startup, providing key insights from experienced founders and venture capital knowledge.

If you’re seeking funds from Portuguese venture capital firms, the Rocket Program gives you a significant edge. The team at Startup Lisboa offers crucial assistance with fundraising, connecting you with VC firms and potential investors.

In conclusion, the Rocket Program offers numerous opportunities for startups at different stages, especially those focusing on the Portuguese or Iberian market. With structured sessions, expert guidance, a supportive community, and help with fundraising, it could be the boost that propels your startup to new heights.

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