Geeks, wanted (alive, please)!

geek-wantedSo Summer’s suddenly there and some of us are spending some deserved couple of weeks’ vacation. While you’re at that, chances are you’ll be using some kind of gadget, like your new iPad or Lumia, either for fun or keep in touch. While you’re at that, remember the geeks that made it possible.

I was in a conference last week and there was this discussion about Porto tech scene. So I took this comparison out of the hat once more (I kind of do it for a year now, but it seems it’s not exhausted). Porto University is the biggest in Portugal, the size of Harvard in number of students. About 50 km northwest there’s Braga with its University of Minho, the size of Stanford. About 75 km south there’s Aveiro with its university the size of the Imperial College of London. And about 100 km south there’s Coimbra, the size of the MIT. This usually comes as a surprise, but did I mention each one is even bigger that the counterpart?

I guess this is the same scenario as in many European cities. American culture abounds and we tend to forget our own backyard. So over the Atlantic there’s not enough geeks, we knew that. But now we hear the same happens in some places in Europe. Have you ever thought of your startup’s amazing product and 100 million funding being held back because of manpower shortage? There’s a real chance that will happen.

I had some thoughts about this and come up with three pieces of advice.

We’re all born or grown somewhere we love to be. Or learned to. So why not start your company in your home’s garage, your school dorm or your day job’s office?

There will be a point in time where your need to grow will make you move to the next level. Either at your country capital, at London or at San Francisco, you might think of opening a new office, even your main office, but I guess all of the people back where you started are not eager to join. So why not keep your hometown office?

And there will be a moment your product is global and location doesn’t matter anymore. And by then you might look for the perfect place to have just another basecamp and fill it with all the geeks you need. So why not start thinking of that from the beginning?

If you are still reading, you might have noticed I’m writing in English. The different languages are said to be a limitation in Europe. That’s true for the business but not relevant for the organizations. There’s plenty of English speaking and international flights around here. And on top of that, most of us even speak a couple more languages, for the fun of it!

By the way, since another school year is ending, there will be a few hundred new hires available in the next couple of months in Porto, where I’m writing. They speak Portuguese (almost all) and English (most of them) and earn less than €20,000 per year at start. You can come and meet some of them here and here. Let me know about your hometown in the comments.


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One Response to Geeks, wanted (alive, please)!

  1. Piotr Sowatzki says:

    Great points, Reinaldo. There are so many talented geeks here in Europe. Startups should go where the geeks are. Be it Porto or eastern European cities like Warsaw (where I come from). Don’t follow the money. Follow the geeks! :-)