Having spent time in Portugal this summer I was encouraged by the early signs of its recovery with a strong future for startups. So when I heard that André Leonardo was readying to embark on an around-the-world journey, by himself for several months, to meet the entrepreneurial ecosystem I had to find out more...
Chad: What was life like for you when you were young?
André: I was born and raised on the Azores Islands (Portugal). Azores is actually a very incredible place to grow up. Everything is close so you can take a swim in your lunch time or a trail in the end of the day. There are almost no crimes, there are many fascinating traditions and the people are just amazing! I couldn’t have been luckier that I was born in a paradise!
Chad: What first got you so interested in entrepreneurship?
André: When I was 7 years old, I wanted to buy the new bubble gums that had just been launched in Azores marketplace. They were new, cool and trendy… but I didn´t have money to buy them. So I started selling my mom’s flowers from her garden, but she didn’t like that at all… So, I started my own cheese factory at home. My aunt (who lived with us) was in charge of buying the materials and manufacturing process. I was the “process coordinator” and seller. The remaining family, friends and neighbors were the customers – “My Cuteness” was my main differentiation and magical ingredient! They just couldn’t say no, and after two weeks I bought an entire bubble gum box.
I really started to feel that I was an entrepreneur when I entered university. I have promoted and organized entrepreneurship nonprofit international events on Terceira Island. It is just awesome for an island with only 55,000 people where the events have always completely sold out (more than 500 people) within days of becoming available and we donate the proceeds to charity. With the help of awesome sponsors and an incredible team we find it possible to achieve great things.
Chad: When do you leave from Portugal?
André: My journey starts in the beginning of November. It´s going to be a rough several month tour around the world where I´m going alone, taking only a backpack and a camera.
This project results from an old dream of mine to travel around the world (like Fernão Magalhães / Ferdinand Magellan) searching for entrepreneurship stories and spreading the Portuguese culture. I have been working a lot for the past months to get the right endorsers and sponsors, to get the website done and to take care of all the logistic details. It has been 16 hours of daily work, a lot of creativity and capacity to adjust to changes.
My main goals with this project are to report stories that might inspire people and to show how talented Portuguese people were and are.
With that said, I really believe that this mission is much more than a regular project or a cool adventure. It´s about a lifestyle, it´s about solutions, it´s about heroes, it´s about contributing for a better world and it´s about understanding the entrepreneurial mindset around the world!
Chad: You listed a lot of places on your itinerary, so how long are you planning to spend at each?
André: I´m going to be in every continent and visit several places…exotic places, urban places, unspoiled places, well-known places, big cities, small villages, first world countries, third world countries…entrepreneurial places and non-entrepreneurial places! I will be in such different countries like Kenya, India, Thailand, Australia, Brazil, Chile and the USA – among other.
I will stay about one and half months in Africa where I will also act as a volunteer teaching entrepreneurships in schools, one month in India, about one month in southeast Asia, one month in Australia, one month in South America, one month in the USA and Canada, and about 2 weeks in Europe.
It´s a complex logistic plan to get the best entrepreneurship stories and interviews… but everything is getting ready for an amazing journey.
Chad: What made you put Boston on your list of places to visit for this tour?
André: I think Boston has one of most interesting and rich ecosystem of startups and entrepreneurs that I know. I think my time in Boston will be invaluable because there´s so much to investigate in the area. I can´t wait to be there!
Furthermore, there is a large Portuguese community in the Boston area (especially in Fall River, New Bedford and Providence). I want to be connected to that community because they are not only Americans, but also part of an amazing country that is Portugal. I feel very proud to see these Portuguese, these entrepreneurs, who at times live emotionally divided with roots in both the US and Portugal.
Chad: Who are you hoping to connect with in your travels?
André: There´s 2 groups of people that I aim to connect with. First I´m hoping to connect with entrepreneurs. How did they start their business? What was their idea? What is the story behind their startup? What is their idea about and why do they think it’s a successful idea? What are their hopes and dreams for that idea?
Second I want to talk to the all entrepreneurship ecosystem in the area. I´m talking about mentors, professors, entrepreneurship specialist, universities, entrepreneurship programs, incubators, etc. My main goal here is to get to know the real state of the entrepreneurship in the area and what the entrepreneurship ecosystem future looks like in the area.
Please feel free to leave me your suggestion, I will make time to meet with you!
Chad: What worries you the most about traveling for so long?
André: I have never traveled alone for such a long period of time. This is probably the biggest adventure of my life. I´m aware that is a very rough journey in some unexpected environments where I will face a lot ups and downs, but I believe that I´m doing something valuable here and something that is also going to contribute for Portugal. I do it with honor. It is in the spirit of Magalhães that I look forward to this project and it is a pleasure to re-trace history and help Portugal in this difficult period.
Chad: What has gotten you the most excited about such an ambitious trip?
André: First, it is a challenge and I love a good ambitious challenge! Second I will have the chance to connect with the entrepreneurial world on an entrepreneurship tour and meet awesome people and ideas.
Andre hopes to be in Boston in April 2014 if his travels go according to plan. In the interim you can connect with him at his site http://www.andreleonardotour.com/
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