Diogo Mónica is a household name both in the Silicon Valley and Portuguese startup scene, and in the cryptocurrency industry.
Born in the US, but raised in Portugal since he was 3 years old, he graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) in Lisbon. His passion for distributed systems and security led him to join Square in 2011, where he witnessed the business grow from 40 to 1500 people and from series A funded startup to a publicly traded company. From there he moved on to being the Security Lead at Docker. That’s where he met Nathan McCauley, who he names as a source of inspiration from the day they met, and who would become the co-founder of their very own company — Anchorage. The rest is history.
Being a master in his craft and a seasoned expert in the tech scenes on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Diogo Mónica is the perfect guest to kick off our brand new Shilling Podcast. In the first episode, we talked to him about launching a tech company in and from Portugal to the World, the market traits founders should be aware of when starting a business, the differences between launching a startup in Silicon Valley and Portugal, and more.
One of the topics that came up during our talk with Diogo Mónica was the bridge between Silicon Valley and Portugal, and asking him whether or not the market in which founders start companies matters. His answer was a prompt “definitely.” For him, the market is the actual dominant force in the process, more so than the product or the founder(s). It’s important that people starting a business look at the market and consider if it is expanding and growing, or if it is saturated?
Going into market specifics, Diogo advises founders to think globally instead of locally. While there have been companies that have succeeded by starting off in small markets and expanding, he believes they made it 10-times harder on themselves, and questions why they would add this extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging process (of starting a business). The clear and easy answer for him is to start in the right market, even if that means it’s beyond the borders of your home country.
Pivoting on that, we talked about the Bay Area and why it has been the best place on Earth to start companies for decades now. Diogo mentions the ease in getting funding, specifically from Valley investors, and in attracting the right talent, but also the network effect in the area seen in capital, talent, and entrepreneurship, that translates into a positive loop and cycle of reinvesting in entrepreneurs.
That’s not to say there aren’t advantages to be found in other locations, quite the opposite. When asked about the benefits of setting up a company and operations in Portugal, Diogo Mónica, who opened an Anchorage office in Portugal where 50% of the team will work from, says the market’s advantages are very clear: “amazing world-class talent pool, amazing life, quality, safety, and infrastructure, which is incredibly important.” There are disadvantages as well, particularly in terms of employment laws, employee incentives, and equity, but for him, it makes sense to be creating jobs and investing capital in the country.
To listen to the full conversation — and find out what food Diogo Mónica doesn't miss whenever he’s back in the homeland — be sure to subscribe to the Shilling Podcast.
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