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We are based in Portugal, but most of our clients are not

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Have you ever had lunch with a bunch of strangers?

It’s an experience that can range from mildly intriguing to profoundly awkward. Yet (and luckily), the luncheon hosted by the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, with the support of Pedra Silva Arquitectos, veered towards the stimulating end of the spectrum.

Set within the inviting walls of Santiago de Alfama, this wasn’t just a meal; it was a vibrant convergence of ideas and cultures, a meeting of diverse groups of entrepreneurs and professionals, a microcosm of Portugal’s own international charm. Prompted by our moderator, Chris Barton, Manuel Rosa da Silva, our gracious host from Santiago de Alfama, proposed a thought that lingered in the air: “there are many Portugals within this one border.” He challenged the conventional view of nationality, especially in the realm of business, painting it as a spectrum rather than a definite territory. We who had come together for this lunch, are embodiments of this reality, our identities not merely inherited from our home country, but actively crafted from the rich variety of experiences found in Portugal’s corners.

Take me, your narrator, as an example: though Italian by birth, Lisbon has claimed a piece of my soul, rendering me, not a Portuguese but a “Lisboner” through and through.

Full Group - Networking Lunch 14 February 2024

The Art of Marketing Abroad: Beyond Fado, Beaches and Pasteis de Nata

A diverse crowd, united by a common challenge: reaching foreign clients from our Portuguese base. Gone were the days of simply showcasing stunning beaches and delicious pastries: masterfully moderated by Chris Barton, the conversation went beyond the simplistic notion of showcasing Portugal’s undeniable beauty, delving into the strategic depths of inbound marketing and SEO. How can you become a digital storyteller, crafting online narratives that resonate with global audiences searching for solutions?

But in a world driven by algorithms, trust remains the golden currency, making a warm introduction from a satisfied client or business partner more valuable than any search engine rankings. It was a reminder that events such as this lunch can help build a solid network of personal and professional relationships.

Finally, we addressed the art of outbound marketing and reading buying signals from other markets. In a world rife with uncertainty, Portugal’s stability emerges as a powerful asset. We are not selling dreams built on shifting sands; we are offering a haven of predictability, a launchpad for businesses and individuals seeking a solid foundation for growth. This, it dawned on us, is our unique value proposition, our opportunity to stand out in a marketplace where turbulence seems the norm.

The Talent Paradox: From Brain Drain to Global Gain?

But Portugal’s allure extends beyond stability. Many tech and tech-enabled businesses flock here, lured by another kind of gold rush: the local talent. Portugal’s solid public education system churns out a stream of skilled graduates, a rich vein of potential waiting to be tapped. This country, with its high-ranking universities and polytechnics, has become an incubator for great minds and agile thinkers.

But what about talent retention? How does a nation, celebrated for its ability to cultivate such promising individuals, ensure that these bright minds don’t just enrich foreign industries but also contribute to the local economic fabric? Some of the guests called Portugal not California, but the “Alabama of Europe”, where recent graduates look for opportunities abroad, driven by the promise of a better future, or simply by a spirit of adventure, to, sometimes, find their way back home. These emigrants, in fact, often return, bringing back not just financial resources, but valuable global perspectives and experiences. They have the potential to become the catalysts for innovation, enriching the local ecosystem with their diverse skill sets. Will this talent diaspora, initially seen as a loss, inadvertently become a source of dynamism and growth?

Ana Teodoro, Kris Manning, Elisa Tarzia, Patricia Casaburi, Rubem Galvão, Costah Bychenkov, Jon Guyett

Policy Flips and a Vision for the Country

Much like the plot twist in your favorite drama, what began as a focused dialogue on marketing strategies abroad quickly expanded into an impromptu summit on Portugal’s place in the global narrative. This pivot wasn’t just serendipitous; it was a clear indication of the depth and diversity of thought present at the table, a microcosm of Portugal’s own complex identity on the world stage.

Portugal’s dance with its historical and economic destiny is complex, marked by both bold strides and cautious steps back. The Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) regime and the golden visa program were once heralded as keystones in the arch of the country’s growth, inviting a surge of foreign investment and talent. Yet, as these policies undergo revisions and restrictions, there’s a sense of recalibration in the air. Businesses and investors alike are left to navigate the shifting sands of regulation, pondering the long-term impacts on the market’s stability and growth.

The education system stands as a testament to the country’s commitment to fostering brilliance, yet it’s at a crossroad. With a significant portion of graduates looking abroad to expand their horizons and careers, the nation faces a pivotal question: is it nurturing a workforce for its prosperity or inadvertently serving as a training ground for the global market?

Amidst these internal deliberations, external spotlights like the Web Summit have cast a glow on Portugal’s potential. This event has positioned Lisbon as a nexus of innovation, but it is not a permanent fixture. The vital conversation now is about the aftermath — ensuring that the country’s economic narrative is not solely tied to transient events but is woven into a sustainable framework of continuous innovation and attraction. Portugal must consider what pillars need to be fortified to uphold its economy and what new chapters need to be written to adapt to the inevitable changes of tomorrow.

Embracing the Paradox: A Business Haven Beyond Labels

As the conversation drew to a close, a clear consensus emerged. Despite its seemingly contradictory identity, its policy flip-flops, and its talent diaspora, Portugal is undeniably a business haven. Its beauty, stability, and vibrant community serve as potent magnets, attracting entrepreneurs and investors seeking not just profit, but a place to live and prosper.

Ultimately, the true strength of Portugal lies not in erasing its identity paradoxes, but in embracing them. It is this very “blurred” nature, this ability to be both traditional and innovative, local and global, that fuels its dynamism and attracts those seeking an alternative to the homogenized landscapes of the modern world.

Did we answer the original question that prompted us to get together? Far from it. Rather than offering a clear-cut solution on how to market ourselves abroad, the lunch served as an invitation to join the conversation, to embrace the contradictions and to contribute to the growth of a country that we all call home.

Costah Bychenkov, Luís Pedra Silva, Jon Guyett, Chris Barton, Terry Hamill, Jarred White, Gemma Hearne


BPCC Chris Barton
Pedra Silva Architectos Luís Silva
IOmergent / Sente Security Jarred White
Storytailors James Dubec
Global Citizen Solutions Patricia Casaburi
Bridge-In Elisa Tarzia
Outstanding Investment Properties Eduardo Fonseca
CTR (Hayco Marketing) Jon Guyett
Teresa Patrício & Assoc Vicky Rodrigues
Andrew Harrison Andrew Harrison
Carvalho Negro Michiel Schwartz
Algarve Gems Gemma Hearne
Twine Rami Aladdin
NewCo Roberto Mendonça
Rayodata Costah Bychenkov
Corporate Connection Terry Hamill
Room Space Kris Manning
Brightman Group Anne Brightman
Room Space Ana Teodoro
Jesper Carvalho Andersen Jesper Carvalho Andersen
Currencies Direct Rubem Galvão
Santiago de Alfama Manuel Rosa da Silva