The networking and pitching competition for startup companies was held on Wednesday, October 14 at Albufeira Marina and awarded €2,000 and a six-month business ‘bootcamp’ at Lisbon’s Territórios Criativos, a business support company, to the winning project.
The event attracted over 20 startup companies from the Algarve and Lower Alentejo, which pitched their business plans to over 30 investors, partners and potential clients.
Representatives from the participating startups had the opportunity to network onboard an “AlgarExperience” boat while enjoying a trip along the coast of Albufeira.
But while organisers say that there was a wealth of promising projects being pitched, no other startup impressed the panel of judges more than HiJiffy, which is already being used in over 700 hotels in 15 countries.
This digital customer service platform features a chatbot, which “automates 80% of conversations between guests and hotels,” as well as a digital concierge, which is “in charge of the check-in and check-out process and also presents in-house campaigns to guests via text messages and WhatsApp,” said João Freitas from HiJiffy.
He explained that the digital platform is especially useful now that the Covid-19 pandemic has made social distancing a requirement, as it provides a “level of interaction that is similar to face-to-face, except it is completely digital”.
Second place went to MobiFast – a “mobility app which brings together every transportation option available, from public transportation to shared mobility” – while third went to TailsTravel – an advertisement and online bookings platform for pet animal services and products.
According to Territórios Criativos CEO Luís Matos Martins, the event hopes to provide partnership and investment opportunities to up-and-coming businesses at a time when the Algarve’s tourism sector is facing unprecedented challenges.
Said Martins, the participating entrepreneurs had “access to the largest companies and players of the tourism sector”, including national tourism authority Turismo de Portugal, Portugal Ventures, the National Federation of Business Angels Associations, the National Competitiveness and Innovation Agency (IAPMEI), StartUp Portugal, Grupo Barraqueiro and Frota Azul.
The panel of judges featured Cristina Salsinha (Turismo de Portugal), Isabel Neves (National Federation of Business Angels Associations), João Borga (StartUp Portugal), Pedro de Mello Breyner (Portugal Ventures) and Roberto Antunes (NEST – Centre of Tourism Innovation).