Lisbon Challenge in São Paulo.

After returning from New York for 2 nights, it was time to get to the airport in Lisbon again to hop on the next plane. This time to São Paulo.

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Subway Station in São Paulo.

To sum up the days and the experience:

This. City. Is. Simply. Huge! And expensive.

I wasn’t expecting it, but life in São Paulo is not cheap.

Taking a cab doesn’t cost too much. Thing is: You will always be stuck in traffic. I was told not walk around in some areas, and we are not talking about Ghetto areas, means: We’ve spent a good amount of time in cabs.

I’m not used to that at all, as I love exploring cities by foot and don’t mind walking a few kilometers.

Tap water? Just don’t.

Ordering bottles of wine in a restaurant? Just leave it.

Buying clothes? Yes, GANT, GUCCI, H&M, and Kate Spade – you’ll find it all. More expensive than anywhere else in the world, I was told.

That being said, let’s talk about business, as that was our reason to be there.

On the first day, we met Carlos Moura from aicep Portugal Global, who helps Portuguese companies to touch ground in Brasil.

Here is some of his advice:

– BE REALISTIC!

– Brazilian people have a different view on timings (getting stuff done…)!

– Brazil is a very difficult market. Mid-long term investment, not short term.

– Visas & setting up bank accounts is very difficult, takes forever.

– Brazil is split into North and South.

– remember there is still a lot of corruption.

– don’t underestimate the border control (port and airport, they know what they’re doing).

– government is super strict on rules. There is not way around. Live with it!

– laws are very complex.

– Brazilian companies don’t go abroad (very often) and don’t invest in foreign companies to come too often.

– they prefer to invest in American companies (compared to other countries).

– funds are available.

– education is an important topic in Brazil.

– register your brand – they copy fast.

– take your time over there, success doesn’t come over night.

– count in 2 years to see the results you are looking for (including getting all your papers done).

– you need money to enter this market.

– pay on time! If you don’t, you go right on the “Black List” and you don’t want that! Make sure you check your mail.

– “Yes” on a company deal doesn’t always mean “Yes”, but “maybe…” –– Be aware of the fact!

– Not enough developers over there. It’s easier to bring your team over there, than to find one!

– keep a low profile, makes it easier to enter the market.

 – The size and stability of the Brazilian market (200 Million people) is a “yes!”

– Online Privacy Services are very strict: you need your servers stationed in Brasil (just as Europe, USA,…).

Not only he, but everyone we’ve met, gave us the following top 3 advices, if you want to enter the Brazilian market:

First: Study your market. 

Means: Take a VERY close look at the market in Brazil. They like to keep ideas inside the country, and the rest of the world might not know about it. Also: Define the area and city you want to launch first. North and South are very different – you really need to look into that. If it works in SP, it can work everywhere. But also remember that the competition will be bigger in SP than elsewhere.

Secondly: Get a lawyer. 

You think you know bureaucracy – you don’t! Paperwork and laws are so complex and complicated, they will break your neck if you  try it yourself. Therefor let someone else do the job, someone who knows the business by heart. Especially the guy from Groupon stressed that  costumer protection is very high and can get you very easily.

Third: Get an accountant. 

Taxes, fees,… are different from area to area. Just as a lawyer, get an accountant. It will cost you some money, but it will surely cost the success of your business, if you don’t invest in this field.

We visited a couple of other startups, VCs and Co working spaces.

One of them was PTO where Marcus showed us around, explained how working changed in times and showed us this quite cute video about sharing a work space.

The investor day took place at FIAP and later on that day at the Microsoft office and was quite fun.

After all, São Paulo was exciting – of course! I’ve never been there before. It’s a crazy busy city and though we’ve seen a good bit, there is so much more to explore. Yet, I have to say, it is not my city and I don’t see myself going back there for a vacation.

Flying back from São Paulo, I stayed right at the airport in Lisbon to take the flight to London where our journey continued.

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