«Better done than perfect»
By José Reis Santos | 3rd of April 2019
I must have come across João Vasconcelos in Fontelos for the first time, a mythical tavern that served the people of Lusíada University, or somewhere by the Students Association, at the time led by the late João Catarino. We went on for many years to see each other at a distance, whether at the college, at the night, at Politika or Alcântara, or later at JS / PS. I always had him as a person full of drive, unable to stand still, unable to stand aside from another project, adventure or campaign.
We share meeting in campaigns here and there, without ever being close or great friends or comrades on lists or backstage, not least because we had slightly different waves. And when years later he founded and managed Start Up Lisboa, at a time when practically nobody knew what a VC, seed money, investment rounds, incubators or a technological hub was, I was already walking through Magyar lands, still concentrated on my doctorate and on my academic career linked to Comparative History and Political Science. We kept our paths separate.
Then, when I decided to found my own Startup, in the middle of last year, João had already left the Government, for one of those very Portuguese petty stupidities (a stupid tickets to a football match). However, he had managed to create in a country very adverse to change, excessively dependent on the easy subsidy, the compadrio, and the cunha, a culture of entrepreneurship, of risk, of innovation and link between the idea and the action, and that, starting from the capital, quickly spread to the rest of our by-the-sea-rectangle. Its motto, “better done than perfect”, which many remembered these days, perfectly symbolizes this will to do, or go on doing, as a strategic alternative to maintaining the amorphism and status quo so often associated with the Portuguese industry and business sector, still very visible, I add.
Not to mention the Web Summit, and the importance it had in placing Lisbon (and Portugal) on the map of cutting-edge business and technological areas, as there was ample testimony of this legacy in the last few days by so many who felt very close to dynamizing force of João, especially after allied with an institutional component that boosted his contagious energy (as he has been in Startup Lisboa and later in the Secretary of State for Industry).
I am really upset (to say the least), that just when several people have advised me to speak to him, to present him with my company’s project and how the blockchain and cryptoassets technology fits perfectly into the disruptive dynamics he advocated, with potential for impact in practically all economic, financial, logistical, legal, political-institutional areas, he disappeared. And that we never had the opportunity to remember Fontelos, and laught together over a shared story.
One last reference to what seems to me to be João’s legacy, starting with the excellent initiative immediately proposed by Miguel Fontes and Startup Lisboa in instituting the «João Vasconcelos Award» for the entrepreneur of the year. Then, I would also like to mention the very extensive political arc that gave the most praiseworthy praise to João, demonstrating that there may be people in politics who manage, by their public service, to mark the country in order to receive a standing ovation. Finally, I hope that we will be able to keep the flame of entrepreneurship that you were trying to keep alive, that we will be able to break once and for all with the excessive dependence of the State in the economic sector, or that at least it will know how to update itself in order to keep up with the speed cutting-edge sectors, their transversality and geographic dispersion in business models (theme for an upcoming text). And that we don’t have to wait for perfection. Let us continue to do.
(article publishes online in Revista Visão on the 3rd April 2019)