STATION GLOBAL: Pedro Ferreira, the King of Networking
Foto: Walter Vorjohann / Startup Guide

Within our new format STATION GLOBAL we will regularly introduce you to international personalities, who have left their their footprints in our ecosystem. The first one is Pedro Ferreira. The Portuguese native has moved to Frankfurt in 2011. Since then, the 34-year-old has been an important mover and shaker in the regional startup scene. We have talked to the omnipresent networker, about his role, his numerous projects, his keys to success and why Lisbon can serve as a benchmark for Frankfurt.

Pedro, for the few who don’t know you yet: What do you do, why do you do it – and why do you get a kick out of it?

I call myself a startup enthusiast and ecosystem builder, because I love to take on different roles in the startup ecosystem that actively support different stakeholders and strengthen our ecosystem overall. This suits my personal mindset and my passion to network really well. Being creative, flexible, visionary and at the same time independent but still working with multiple teams is what gives me a kick. I am often seen as a connector, enabler or facilitator, because I can introduce new opportunities or ventures, create impact and execute projects as well. At  the end of the day it is the feeling of being part of something that is solving one or multiple issues that you feel strongly passionate about.

You seem to be very bustling and attend nearly every single event in the ecosystem…

I must confess: I’m trying to level my work life balance due to the fact that my family scaled with having had twins recently. At the moment I am taking some time off and try to use my limited time wisely. Nevertheless, every week a great idea, synergy or project pops up on my radar somehow.

What is it that makes you believe in the ecosystem FrankfurtRheinMain?

I love the fact that the FrankfurtRheinMain ecosystem is still small and in an early stage or activation phase. I believe that we, as ecosystem, will expand and scale to achieve an interesting positioning in the near the future. The possibility of being part of this journey is thrilling!

What’s working well and where do you see potential for improvement?

I really believe in the potential of our ecosystem. I understand that we need to work to improve on specific, identified areas, for example access to capital. On the positive side, the ecosystem has a good score and sense of community. Luckily FrankfurtRheinMain is a central point, not only geographically, but also when it comes to policy makers, state agencies, corporates, universities, etc. I believe we need to take advantage of that, and use it internationally as well.

Can you name three of the region’s key projects that help the ecosystem flourish and get to the next level?

One initiative that I am involved in is the Startup Guide, that recently launched the latest Frankfurt edition. This book shows a curated selection of all key projects. My top three choices right now are  the invaluable work of Tech Quartier in Frankfurt, the impact of heimathafen in Wiesbaden, as well as the international success of Merck Innovation Center in Darmstadt. That being said, I am also very curious about the newcomers, including WeWork Labs, Frankfurt Forward and obviously STATION itself.  

You are a passionate networker. What are your personal success factors to grow a fruitful network?

The first is curiosity: We all need to invest in active learning and be interested in what others do. You should never stop learning and never assume you master something. Second is zest: always actively participate with enthusiasm and energy! And finally gratitude: appreciate and help others.

You have also brought your very own startup initiatives to the region yourself. Which are the ones you currently focus on?

At the moment, I am focusing on taking Frankfurt Valley and Women Who Inspire Rhein Main to the next level. Those are platforms that have been growing organically and deliver meaningful connections, experiences and content. “Women Who Inspire Rhein Main” for example is an event series that started one year ago when I wrote an article on International Women’s Day. It grew from an 80 people audience to 300, our digital footprint impact is even 10 times bigger. Our next event is coming up this Friday.  

Earlier you said that you’re full of new ideas for future projects. Anything you want to share?

I am part of different teams that aim to start local chapters from big international Silicon Valley platforms. I can’t disclose names, because it’s not yet official, but one is focusing on an early stage accelerator program and the another one is focusing on trying to leverage  the use of exponential technologies. All very exciting! Fingers crossed – it will bring a lot of value to the ecosystem.

What can Germany learn from your native country Portugal?

Portugal as a country is very small, facing severe economical issues during the last decades. Nevertheless, with Talkdesk, OutSystems, Farfetch, we got three unicorns – and there are reasons to believe that the numbers will increase with Feedzai taking the lead.

It is interesting to see that most of them scaled gradually and got offices and investors outside of the country. Those could be some case studies to replicate.

Are there any parallels between Frankfurt and Lisbon as startup hubs?

I was lucky to work in Paris, Madrid and Lisbon, and recently visited London and San Francisco with important delegations. And indeed, the Lisbon ecosystem can serve as a benchmark for Frankfurt. As an ecosystem itself, Lisbon has become super attractive worldwide, especially with the WebSummit, which was hosted for the first time 10 years ago. Developing an event of global relevance was only possible due to the flexible and approachable culture of the Portuguese people, for example language-wise.

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