The street vendor of long black hair was still setting up a cake stall and the other camelôs were still preparing their juice, coconut water and knick-knack stalls in front of the Vila Olímpia train station, and the first of the twenty eight teams selected to try in a five minutes pitch winning a month of speeding up in the Energia de Portugal project - and apply for the €20 thousand prize - was announcing itself at the entrance of the building that lodges, in São Paulo, EDP, the partner of Expresso in the initiative that promotes entrepreneurship in Portugal and which has internationalized itself this year.
It is 6h55 on Monday, 8 and the city where Ayrton Senna and Rita Lee were born wakes up under a thin layer of grey clouds, anticipating high temperatures. In the meanwhile the other teams arrive longing for winning the four golden tickets to Lisbon, where, together with 11 other business ideas, will develop the projects in working sessions prepared by Fábrica de Startups.
The 28 selected teams, chosen from more than 80 applications, came from all over Brazil. Coming from Rio Grande do Sul, from Minas and from Rio de Janeiro, they faced until 8 o'clock in the evening a jury - that included, among others Miguel Setas, CEO of EDP Brazil, João Brito Martins and Eduardo Pinto Basto, also from EDP Brazil, António Lucena de Faria, from Fábrica de Startups. At the end of the day the jury praised the quality and potential of the projects, most of which were technology based, and announced the four teams that won a place in the October bootcamps: Me Passa Aí!, a platform of distance education for students in higher education; Beonpop, which discovers the popularity or influence degree through internet; EstoqueUP, a purchase management and inventory solution for PME; and Say2me, which enables the evaluation of the customers' satisfaction degree using a simple cellular phone.
The importance of Lisbon
Let us begin with the story of the only startup that got the jury's consensus. Knowing that in Brazil, from "100 university students only 32 finish their studies the dropout rate is around 25%", Luiz Borges and César Marques, respectively system developer and analyst, have created a platform that helps the students who dropout their studies for lack of time or money. Me Passa Aí, produces "videos of simplified classes" with duration of up to eight minutes, the "time limit of learning of a student that works during the day and studies at night". Short but efficient classes about which students who have tried them left in YouTube encomiastic statements: "They say that what they cannot learn in a two hours class they achieve in five minutes of Me Passa Aí!"
The money problem will also be solved "It is much cheaper than having a private teacher or any other kind of help. We are thinking about three to four euros a month or 20 euros a year. So, everyone can pay", César says. In spite of the low price it will not be difficult to Me Passa Aí to grow 6% a year as it wants. Luiz and César team has already received an "encouragement" of 34 thousand reais (€11,5 thousand) from a governmental body and 120 thousand reais (€40,4 thousand) from a business angel. But the richness may come from incubation in Energia de Portugal: "It appears in the right moment. We are going to be followed by 40 mentors and we will evolve to grow globally. How Ivete Sangalo would say: we are going to Lisbon to 'Levantar Poeira'".
The Popularity measurer
It is a different music to Alexandre Stumpf, 43, founder of Beonpop, a tool that measures, compares and follows in real time, the performance e popularity variation of people and trademarks in the digital space. The acceleration in Portugal reminds him of "Do Seu Lado" (By Your Side), by Nando Reis: "It appears at the right time. We are completing one year and this is a very good opportunity to understand the external acceptance of the product and to understand the needs we do not know, to test and validate the business near Fábrica de Startups". Alexandre says that Beonpop is the Nasdaq of social networks, just like the famous New Yorker stock exchange of technological companies, measures the variations in real time. Stumpf and his partner, Cléber Rodrigues, named the algorithm that changes interactions in the social networks into indexes as pop. "The global purpose is being the reference measure to compare people and trademarks in the internet. For the moment it has 35 thousand fans in Brazil and in just ten months it reached more than 100 countries.
The idea came out because of the wine and the women: in the dinners that Stumpf and his friends have regularly on Saturdays at each other's places, the couple that brings the bottle most punctuated in the scale of Robert Parker, the American enologist, is declared "best in the party". At the end of the night men usually go to bed and women stay up nosing in their friends lives on Facebook trying to understand if they are (or not) better than them in their professional and love lives. Alexandre gathered Parker scale and wives' gossip and created the algorithm that originated Beonpop.
The other elected ones
The birth of EstoqueUP, another one of the selected teams to develop the project in Lisbon, happened when entrepreneur Marlon Blumer and businessman Gabriel Dimas, both from Campo das Minas, discovered that 60% of the Small and Medium Enterprises had neither the customer's register nor stock control. They accounted for the 6.3 million companies existing in the country and they ventured a startup with a set of tools to help SMEs manage the purchase, organization and sale of products. The gamble has paid out: the platform has an average of 2000 visits a day. Energia de Portugal will be a springboard to internationalization: "We will be in touch with big suppliers". That is why Lisbon reminds them of the music "Valeu a Pena" (It was worthwhile) , by the group O Rappa.
To the three entrepreneurs from Recife, belonging to Say2me and having entered the group of the selected four though a presentation via Skype, the sound adjusting to the participation in EDP is the rhythm of "Cidadão do Mundo" (World Citizen),by Chico Science: "What is most valuable in this experience is the contact we will have with other startups". The project of Filipe Magalhães, Luan Duarte and Francisco Pimentel consists of a suggestion box in the internet where "owners and managers of shops, products or services have the opportunity to receive feedbacks from clients without third party interference. Thus it becomes easier to direct investments to areas which will please the current clients and attract new ones".
In May, Say2me had 50 clients paying for a medium plan of 149 reais (€50) each unit and it expects to reach breakeven in 2015.
Lucena de Faria, the organiser of Energia de Portugal, believes that "any of the selected teams" in Brazil " is able to win the 20 thousand euros prize".
Article originally published in Expresso Economia on the 13th of September, 2014