Joana Rafael, co-founder and operations director of Sensei, won this Thursday – on behalf of the team – the João Vasconcelos Entrepreneur of the Year award, from Startup Lisboa. In the thank you speech, he assumed the representation of the entire company and expressed his desire to go even further. “The prize belongs to the whole team. It’s fantastic to be here and I hope we will continue to contribute to the ecosystem. And we are very hopeful of bringing our technology to the entire world and becoming a global player.”
A developed Sensei technology for the retail sector, allows physical stores to become autonomous spaces, without the need to “scan” product barcodes, wait in lines for cash registers or even make physical payments. It competes with giants such as Amazon, and in April it raised 5.4 million, in a round of financing led by Seaya Ventures and Iberis Capital, in what – at the time – was considered the largest investment in seed phase (initial) by a Portuguese company .
In addition to the main prize, Joana Rafael also won first place as the best “pitch” (presentation), in a vote made by journalists in the sector. In addition to the entrepreneur, the Sensei team is made up of Nuno Moutinho, Paulo Carreira and Vasco Portugal. The ceremony took place at the Beato Creative Hub, in Lisbon, and was attended by the Secretary of State for Digital Transition, André Azevedo. Joana Rafael presented her project together with five other entrepreneurs who stood out throughout the year. It will take home 10,000 euros, sponsored by Semapa NEXT, a venture capital of the pulp and paper company, and with the support also of Basinghall Parceiros and of the founding members of Startup Lisboa: Associação Mutualista Montepio Geral, City Hall of Lisbon and IAPMEI.
The João Vasconcelos award was created in 2019 to honor the former secretary of state, who died that year, who was the first director of the Lisbon City Council incubator. Daniela Braga, from DefinedCrowd, and André Jordão, from Barkyn, were the winners of past editions. The award is national in scope and candidates can propose themselves or be suggested by others.
This year, Startup Lisboa called more than 50 candidates, having chosen 21 and these were the six finalists who dissipate in the final event.
Skoach is a startup winner of Startup Lisboa’s “demo day”
This Thursday, Startup Lisboa took the opportunity to make a two in one. In addition to the João Vasconcelos award, an incubator in the capital held its “demonstration day”. Of the approximately 100 incubated startups, 25 were chosen to present themselves to the community and a panel of investors, at that moment which was their first in-person event of the post-covid era.
A Skoach startup was the one that made the “pitch” winner. The company, founded in 2019, technological solutions that facilitate communication within companies and improve workers’ productivity through a chat bot that sends weekly challenges to create new habits and skills. In second place was a Hunter, which developed the world’s first electric skateboard capable of reducing the user’s risk of falling.
(News updated with more information)