PPL: INNOVATION WITHIN THE LISBON MBA
Born in Mexico, but living in Portugal since 2004, Yoann Nesme is one of the co-founders of PPL Crowdfunding and he has all the reasons to smile as the company is a success. It has implemented its own crowdfunding platform, which has helped to raise 3 million euros for 1000 successful projects. PPL Crowdfunding also assisted several customers in Portugal, United Kingdom and Brazil to establish their own crowdfunding businesses. How did it all start? At The Lisbon MBA.
Yoann Nesme interviewed by The Magazine-Review
Yoann Nesme started the Full-Time International program in 2011. BA in Electrotechnics Engineering (Instituto Técnico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), he was willing to upgrade his formal skills. The Lisbon MBA was the best option for many reasons: “The low fee, compared to other universities in Europe and USA, and the fact that I was already based here. There was no need to support extra costs. The MIT immersion is also one of the highlights”.
Reshape careers is The Lisbon MBA goal. In Yoann Nesme’s case, it was the opportunity to create his own business with one of his professors and two colleagues. “My colleagues Paulo Silva Pereira, Pedro Domingos and I were inspired by Pedro Oliveira and his talks about innovation”, he recalls.
At that time, there were no crowdfunding platforms in Portugal. “We contacted several international crowdfunding platforms, before we reached an agreement with Crowdfunder to lease their own platform to speed up our go-to market. With no competition, we had a business advantage and we could later migrate the website to our own technology, which we did in 2012”. Soon after the launch, several crowdfunding websites sprung in Portugal, but many have been closing during the last years. “It’s a difficult business model”, Yoann Nesme admits.
In 2012, they signed the first contract with Novo Banco to setup a donation-based crowdfunding platform. The platform, managed by the PPL team, is exclusive for non-for-profit organizations and has helped more than 170 campaigns to raise funds and run projects in different locations, such as Portugal, Mozambique and Cape Verde. The bank co-finances the successful projects with 10% of the funds raised.
“PPL Crowdfunding is nowadays a growing and healthy business. We’re currently rebranding and modernizing our website. We expect to launch new services that will be announced when available”, Yoann Nesme says.
The future of the crowdfunding market is extremely challenging. Yoann Nesme sees a great future, especially if companies like PPL Crowdfunding start to challenge banking institutions in the way businesses are funded. “Some banks are already establishing new policies about crowdfunding. Santander, as well as Novo Banco, are great examples that show that the incumbent players are taking crowdfunding more seriously. The market will rapidly evolve within the next five-years”.
Portugal and the startup environment
Yoann Nesme landed in Lisbon because of his Portuguese girlfriend. The couple met in Spain, while he was in a one-year exchange program (Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Barcelona). “Portugal welcomed me with open arms. We, Mexicans, share some characteristics of the Latin culture with the Portuguese. I was also delighted by the quality of life of the country. I’d say that the main challenge I faced was related to my academic background, as in Portugal my BA was less valued compared to Mexico. However, I can agree that moving to Barcelona and, then, Lisbon was the right decision”, he states.
The number of startups and incubators (hubs, accelerators, among others) is increasing in Portugal and, particularly, in Lisbon. “When I was doing The Lisbon MBA, no official support was granted by the government to startups. In the past five years, this changed dramatically”, Yoann Nesme highlights.
PPL Crowdfunding isn’t the only innovative startup founded within The Lisbon MBA programs. Two companies set up by former students won a contest hosted by SingularityU: SkinSoul is run by Sofia Rocha and Pedro Basto; Mov.E is run by Pedro Silva, Pedro Garcia and José Toscano. Zaask and Viable Report are other successful examples.