14 exciting Lisbon start-ups to look out for in 2018

26 Oct 2017

Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal. Image: TTstudio/Shutterstock

Lisbon has a flourishing and thriving start-up scene.

Before a certain tech conference rolls into town in the next couple of weeks, stealing the limelight, we decided it would be a good idea to check out the local tech start-ups that have already put Lisbon on the global digital map.

The city’s dynamic tech ecosystem has always caught the attention of visiting entrepreneurs and media, and it is noted for its competitive talent, value for money with cost of living and, of course, its stunning architecture and welcoming hospitality.

The thriving entrepreneurial pool in the city is underpinned by an impressive range of supports, with incubators such as Startup Lisboa, Labs Lisboa, Inovisa and Tec Labs; pre-accelerators such as Startup Pirates; and accelerators such as EIT InnoEnergy and BGI.

It has a busy local funding scene, with main players including Portugal Ventures, Caixa Capital, ASK, Sonae IM, EC Ventures and Gesventure as well as angel investor communities Rising Ventures, Brains2Market, Seed Capital and Busy Angels.

And don’t forget, last year the Portuguese government announced a €200m venture capital fund aimed at enticing overseas start-ups to locate in the country, with the vision of making Lisbon a world capital for entrepreneurship.

And so, here are the ones to watch in the year ahead.


Aptoide is a third-party app store with a focus on emerging markets, and positions itself as an alternative to Google Play. The company was founded in 2011 and has offices in Lisbon, Singapore and Shenzhen, where it works with handset makers. It counts more than 500,000 apps, including favourites such as Facebook, Instagram, Clash of Clans, VLC and many more. Aptoide recently raised $4m in a Series A funding round led by E.ventures along with Gobi Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures and Portugal Ventures.


Mellow is the brainchild of Catarina Violante and José Pinto Ferreira, who have created a $400 sous-vide machine that takes orders through your smartphone and keeps food cold until it’s the right time to start cooking for you remotely. The company, which also has offices in San Francisco and Shenzhen, has secured an undisclosed investment from Liam Casey’s Highway1 accelerator. Mellow recently commenced production of the second batch of its machine, which aims to transform cooking as we know it.


Recently named a visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for call centre technology, Talkdesk has created an easy-to-use call centre system that improves customer interactions while keeping costs low. It requires no hardware, phones, coding or downloads – just an internet connection. Founded in 2011 by Cristina Fonseca and Tiago Paiva, Talkdesk has raised more than $24.4m in funding from investors including Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Salesforce Ventures, 500 Startups and Storm Ventures.


Codacy helps coders to check the quality of their code via an automated review platform, and implement quality standards. The platform is used by companies such as PayPal, Adobe, Cancer Research UK and Deliveroo. Founded by Jaime Jorge and João Caxaria, Codacy has raised $6.7m in funding so far, with the most recent round of $5.1m led by Seedcamp, Faber Ventures, Join Capital, EQT Ventures and Caixa Capital.


A business tool designed to give teams real-time insights about leads, clients and competitors, Attentive describes itself as the data analyst every sales team wished they had. Founded in 2015 by Pedro Araújo, Luís Braga and Daniel Araújo, the company has raised $100,000 in seed funding and has been selected to take part in the 2017 Techstars Boulder programme.


A data science company in the credit risk space, James helps banks to fight credit defaults using machine learning. It allows risk officers to built, test and validate credit scoring models. The company was founded in 2013 by João Menano, Samuel Hopkins and Pedro Fonseca, and has raised more than $2.8m in funding to date, enabling it to open offices in New York.


Unbabel uses AI, machine learing and the collective wisdom of more than 50,000 people to translate online content. It is used by major players from Salesforce to Zendesk as well as Pinterest, Skyscanner, Trello and Oculus. Founded in 2013 by Vasco Pedro, João Graça, Sofia Pessanha, Bruno Silva and Hugo Silva, the Y Combinator graduate has so far raised $8m in funding from investors including Shilling Capital Partners, Faber Ventures, Notion Capital and Caixa Capital.


Introduce you to the cronut = croissant + donut. #cravings #thinkmisk by @icrave.ldn

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Misk is an invite-only social network aimed at foodies. Founded in 2016 by Madalena Rugeroni, Sofia Pitta and Daniel Rosa, the app enables its community to share recommendations, with about 3,500 restaurants listed so far.


A candidate-driven jobs marketplace that matches tech professionals with the right companies, Landing.jobs is also known as Jobbox.io. The company was founded by José Paiva and Pedro Oliveira, and has so far raised $750,000 in seed funding.

Sword Health

Sword Health has developed a digital therapy solution that addresses the growing demand for physical therapy while cutting costs and empowering patients with their recovery. It also provides a rich source of data for clinical teams. The company was founded in 2013 by Virgílio Bento and Márcio Colunas.


Claiming it can turn any production line into a digital smart factory, Prodsmart is a real-time process-tracking platform for production lines and job shops. Founded by Samuel Martins and Gonçalo Fortes, it recently raised an undisclosed seed investment from 500 Startups.


Helping students to find accommodation, Uniplaces is a trusted brand that was founded by Leo Lara, Ben Grech, Mariano Kostelec and Miguel Santo Amaro. The platform began in Lisbon in 2012 when the founders rang up landlords to sign up for listings and it grew from there. Today, Uniplaces has more than 40,000 properties in 15 cities across Europe. It has raised $28.9m from investors including Atomico and Octopus Ventures.

Chic by Choice

Chic by Choice is a next-generation dress hire player that allows women to access the newest designer dresses directly from the catwalk. Founded by Filipa Neto in 2014, the company has raised $2m to date from investors including Portugal Ventures.


Zaask is an online platform active in Portugal and Spain that can be used to compare and hire rated service professionals, from carpenters to photographers or tutors. Founded by Luís Martins and Kiruba Shankar Eswaran, it has raised $2.1m to date from investors that include Shilling Capital Partners, Portugal Ventures and Faber Ventures.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years