Go outside the box & keep optimism: life-hacks for startups by Joao Perre Viana

Joao Perre Viana, a business consultant in 9 countries of Europe and Asia, a lecturer at EADA in Barcelona, and at LvBS in Lviv gives advices and life-hacks for Ukrainian startups.


I think that 80% of what I will tell you applies to any entrepreneurs, it’s not specific Ukrainian entrepreneurs or Portuguese or Spanish. I think it applies to anyone because more and more we see that new business entrepreneurs are already thinking and working, operating in a global mindset. So I would say that the majority of my advices could be applied to anyone”, – Joao sais.

First Joao gives universal advice for startups:

1. I would say that the strongest, the most important advice that I have to give is really a matter of attitude. Because this applies to any kind of industry, any kind of business you want to be in. Аnd I advise strongly that any kind of person that tries to or is thinking about starting a new business to be flexible. That’s the first advice I have to give. You will be dealing with so many variables that if you are not flexible you will break down very fast. Be flexible!

2. Secondly, because you have to deal with so many variables, some things that will go ok, some things will go bad and some things will be our way. And some things will always change. So you need to be optimistic. Keep optimism. You will be in such a better position to deal with uncertainty, with change. And you actually should visualize in a positive way where you want to be, despite the problems. Finally, if you do these two steps: flexibility and optimism, it will be easier to keep perspective of where you want to go. Because along the way you will be forced to change things. Sometimes you will be forced to change a lot of things. But if you keep this perspective somehow along the change, you always know more or less where you want to go. I would say that this is the best piece of advice for anyone, anywhere to build something new in terms of business.

3. I think that is very important for any kind of entrepreneur to keep curiosity at the highest level. You need to make an implant in your brain about how to get curious. And more and more. And secondly, you need to feed your curiosity. From one side you are constantly feeding yourself with novelty, with news, with new approaches, new angles. And not necessarily only in the areas you work with. And then try to do something, try to make some actions that build on top of your curiosity because what you are doing is you are making connections. You are bringing disciplines inside your brain, different angles, and when these connections happen it’s like a synapse, right? Like incredible things happen. Innovation either. And usually that’s the fastest track for really outstanding innovation.

If you ask me directly about Ukrainian entrepreneurs, I have probably three pieces of advice that is out of my pocket for free!

You need to accept that English is your first business language. It’s not Ukrainian, it’s not Russian, it’s not Portuguese, it’s English. Because that will just keep opening you, your horizon and doors and reach.

I think that it’s extremely hard for a young, or not so young, Ukrainian entrepreneur to do something on top of old models. What do I mean old models? Areas, where laws haven’t yet been passed to protect your business. And you cannot control many of the things. But, saying that, I believe if you go digital, if you enlarge the borders and the reach of what you are doing, if you partner with foreigners, because that can really help you to make networks, make connections.

Go outside the box. Protect your business because if you have partners outside, believe me, you have much more opportunities to actually protect and expand your business. I would say that you would be much more on the safe side. Recapping, try to be very pragmatic about it. I understand that some people really want to change the world tomorrow, but sometimes you need to understand it’s going to take a bit longer. So maybe you can start small. You can scale. And when I say start small, I mean lower your risks. Lower your investments. And do everything you can to learn as fast as possible. That’s all!


Joao Perre Viana is a founder of the LeonardShop Investment Fund; he teaches the course of  “Entrepreneurship and Innovation” on the MSc program in Innovations and Entrepreneurship and also the course of “Business Development” on the MSc program in Technology Management at LvBS.

Joao Perre Viana received his Master’s Degree in Law at the Autonomous University of Lisbon (Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa) (1997) and obtained an MBA at Vlerick Leuven Ghent Management School (2003) in Belgium. In parallel with his professional activities, he also completed a course of post-graduate studies in Marketing at IPAM, and a course of post-graduate studies in Management at INDEG-ISCTE.