He has spent his life inventing products in technological areas. He says that he didn’t study engineering, he was born an engineer, whereby his quest for solutions comes instinctively. This inventiveness led him to create his first company in 2006, and this has been followed by many others. He is currently in charge of product development for Sage Portugal, but he also works in other areas, and is a keen investor in startups, an area in which patience and experience are key when dealing with a lower rate of success. The fact that he is an optimist by nature, as well as being an engineer, may help.
As an inventor and entrepreneur in such dynamic areas, do you often find yourself thinking that the world is too slow?
It is a fact that when they try to implement new ideas the world tends to maintain its inertia, which always gives the impression that everything takes too long. However, history shows otherwise. For example, in mobile phones, in 10 years we have gone from equipment that sends voice from side to the other to a machine vastly more powerful than the rocket that took man to the moon. Does this example not show that mankind is quick at adopting innovation?
Is Portugal a good country for tech companies?
Yes, Portugal is an excellent country for tech companies. I think that we should not lose sight of the fact that the Portuguese were pioneers with their discoveries and, incredible as it may seem, exploring new paths, as well as our famous «make-do» attitude of figuring stuff out, is in our genes, taking us further than anyone with a strictly-defined way of thinking. So, tech companies, because they are inherently innovative, benefit from our most important raw material: people.
What attracts you to the startup business?
I entered this world mainly because I wanted to help entrepreneurs in a way that just didn’t exist when I started my tech companies. So, on the one hand, I enjoy the personal satisfaction of being able to contribute to the success of innovative projects; and on the other, this is a world that exposes us to those who think «outside of the box» and this is crucial for those who do not want to stagnate.
«Projects don’t come out of a machine’s head, rather from the minds of people»
What was the best investment you have made in this area?
Investments in startups have to be structured, so as to accommodate nine failures in every ten attempts. The fear of failure has to be placed to one side. I would say that Nanopaint, a nanotechnology company researching smart inks, which allow any surface to be a sensor, might be a star, not only on the list of our investments, but might also take the name of Portugal a long way.
You say that people are the most important thing. Is this not paradoxical coming from someone who works with machines and artificial intelligence?
It may seem so, but it isn’t. The fact is that projects don’t come out of a machine’s head, rather from the minds of people. In the same way, they are not carried out by machines, rather by people. We must see machines, whether intelligent or not, as the tool that enables us to achieve a goal; they should not be the measure of success.