I had just finished my professional natural hair care course and my head was spinning with ideas (see journal entry 1 for the story on that). Then, one day, a friend shared with me an application process for the local chapter of an accelerator called AWE - Academy of Women Entrepreneurs, a global programme coordinated locally by the US embassy... Hmm, what? I thought, okay, but I wasn't an entrepreneur, I didn't have a business, I only had an idea that I hadn't even put into practice yet. I immediately said no (now I understand it was fear speaking).
Then Constança came along and convinced me to apply. After all, what did I have to lose? So, I sat in front of the computer and began... and my project was chosen! I'll spare you the insane description of my journey to write the first "Business Plan," which included words like despair, tears, frustration, and anguish. As a professional hair stylist, you can imagine how comfortable I felt spending hours in front of a computer using all sorts of new tools…but after 4 months I made it. And that's when the seed that gave birth to SAVIRA was planted.
And there I was, having recently moved to the south of Portugal and holding my Business Plan, when I met Anahi Dandlen, a bio-engineer, researcher and essential oil producer, who is now the Technical Director of SAVIRA. Meeting Anahi allowed a beautiful story to begin. We had many conversations about using local ingredients produced by local people, exchanged numerous emails and bootstrapped our way into testing our ideas about products... "Anahi... the products are excellent, but what we really wanted was for them to smell like Ria Formosa" (and she achieved that instantly).
With the capacity of developing products in place, we joined in 2021 a second accelerator called “Ideas in a Box” organized by the University of the Algarve and its Division of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer (CRIA). Besides developing more skills, we had also found a local home for our project.
One day, while cutting a client's hair and passionately describing what I was doing, she told me about yet another accelerator called Blue Bio Value (BBV) and how we were perfect candidates to apply! I didn't think it would work for us since it was directed at impact startups in the blue economy. Although we work with coastal ecosystems, we had never seen ourselves as part of that blue economy let alone as a biotech business. But I said okay, let's explore the possibility. Eventually we decided not to submit the application thinking it was out of our league...
Days went by, and then my phone rang. It was that same client reminding me that it was the last day to apply and asking if I had submitted it. Oops, I said... and with embarrassment, I sat down at the computer and started writing. And guess what? We were selected again! And BBV was definitely a turning point on our path.
This accelerator is the result of a partnership between the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Gulbenkian Foundation, powered by MAZE Impact. The promoters founded BBV to support the emergence of the blue bioeconomy and its leading role in tackling some of the most critical societal challenges the planet is facing.
So there we were again and thinking I can handle this. Oh dear, was I wrong! It was 4 months of intensive mentoring, research and learning, completely outside my comfort zone... terms like blue economy, Notion, Slack, investment rounds, COGS became part of my daily vocabulary. But we did it, and although we didn't win the final prize, we gained so much more in reality... a project we were proud of and ready to pitch to raise capital, an indispensable network of friends, fellow startups and partners, and truly a home base where we keep coming back to.
As we start our public journey, we really want to honor all of the people and institutions involved in our development. We feel so blessed! THANK YOU.