Ask the Expert - Ana Pimentel, journalist at Observador

pimentel 2.jpg

 

The euphoria surrounding the Portuguese startup ecosystem has created a wave of involuntarily positive news in the technology press. There has never been so much written about venture capital investment as there is now. Tens of millions of euros in investment have been raised by small businesses. There are new markets that have the potential of bringing Portuguese know-how to every corner of the world. There are awards; above all, there are awards, rankings, and international highlights. This is all true. These are all facts. This is all news.

For those who follow the area, the speed at which technological entrepreneurship has evolved in recent years is undeniable. But this speed does not necessarily translate into maturity. The ideas left the drawingboard and became jobs, money, and new offices. But they also became bankruptcies, redundancies, and debts. Rounds of investment that never came into existence. Concepts that never left the prototype stage. Nights spent in front of Excel spreadsheets. All this is part of the maturity and survival of businesses. This is all true. These are all facts. This is all news.

If a company attracts media attention because it is raising money, conquering markets, or winning awards, it must be prepared to receive the same media attention when it loses money, closes its doors, or is forced to restructure itself. These are two sides of the same coin, and deserve the same rigorous, impartial, and objective journalistic treatment. These are our metrics; you have yours. It is pointless to pretend that this B-side of startups does not exist. It does. Moreover, it is as valid to write about it as about any other aspect. It is even more valid considering that out of ten startups, only one is likely to suceed.

A mature ecosystem has to be prepared to deal with a press that scrutinizes, questions, and searches for the truth. If there is a truth, it will end up in writing, whether the community likes it or not, whether the entrepreneur wants it or not. This is and always will be the role of journalism. We all can gain by deconstructing the stigma of those who fail: the press wins, reporting more transparently what happens in the day to day operations of companies, and the entrepreneurs win. Because the more we talk and write about this kind of pain, the less it hurts. And the more capable we all become.

Ana Pimentel, Journalist Technology and Startups Coordinator at the Observador newspaper