Behind Business - How did this all start?
Daniel - It started about 5 years ago when I was unemployed. I was looking for a job that I liked, and I began to get interested in olive oil. As my parents already had an olive grove, I began experimenting with farming. So I started, I learned, and I then decided to create my own brand of olive oil, so that I could market myself instead of selling it in bulk. I started selling to friends, here in Porto, when I was coming here. When things started to become more professional, I decided to start placing the product in the stores, and then I began exporting it.
What are your most significant difficulties in running a business?
Exporting is the trickiest part because it is not always easy to convince potential importers. It is necessary to knock on the door quite often, be persistent. Another difficulty is to make people understand the difference between good and bad olive oil; unfortunately, even in Portugal, an olive oil-producing country, many people still do not know how to make this distinction and just consume the brands they already know. We, producers, also try to educate the consumers but it is a long-term and painful process. However, I see a growing interest in young people, which is very positive.
What about production?
As for production, the major challenge is climate change; climate change, sudden pests, which often arise due to the former, and droughts. Climate change is a significant challenge for producers.
"Another moment that makes me happy at work is when people recognise me as "The Olive Oil boy", or as "Daniel, the olive oil producer"; being recognised for what I do and for the product I have gives me much energy to continue."
Can you describe a good day and a bad day at your work?
A good day is when I receive a big order from the brand that I sell abroad (Facetas brand). Or when I get the payment of that order in my bank account because sometimes it can be hard to happen... Or at the time of the first taste of the olive oil and I realise that it is delicious, and when after a month or more it is still great, I say to myself “With this one I can really go further!”. It is an excellent feeling. Another moment that makes me happy at work is when people recognise me as "The Olive Oil boy", or as "Daniel, the olive oil producer"; being recognised for what I do and for the product I have gives me much energy to continue. A sad working day is... pouring olive oil in the warehouse. It makes me feel so distressed! It happened to me that it was good to smell a barrel and then I started to do something else. And when I looked, it was already overflowing, and I lost a few litres. Then I automatically get to make a cost estimation of the damage ... “Well now, every litre of that oil is worth X euros, so I've already lost Y! On the floor!” So, yes, I get annoyed. But those moments are what I call a bad morning or afternoon. Now, what makes me truly upset for a few days is... For example, this year a frost fell. And there were several olive trees, the smallest ones, which broke because of the ice weight; those ones were the youngest and broke. I got upset. I put a lot of work on those olive trees. But in the end, there are more pleasurable moments than negative ones.
After these negative moments, where are you going to get the strength that keeps you going?
To the good times, I said before. Well, I'm stubborn, too! But we must live in the present and not think so much about the future and the past, because things are coming and going. Needless not to have the rope around your neck. If we have it, then it is more complicated. That is why you have to take one step at a time and not be a fool. Do not invest too much.
Was that your entrepreneurial vein born with you or was it you who developed it?
To be an entrepreneur, you have to be bold and find your way, which I did, but the fact that I created my own job had to do with being unemployed; I was unhappy with the jobs I had been doing; were very repetitive, and I'm not that “do the same thing all the time” kind of guy. College does not make us entrepreneurs. So at training level, I never had anything that made me an entrepreneur. It was more the fact that I had the opportunity to try other things. The first things we try as entrepreneurs frequently end up in failures, so it is important to experiment. If it didn’t work, no worries, you should put yourself up and go to the fight again. Oh, and having some financial support obviously, and I had it then.
Olive Oil Photography
Olive Oil Bottles
Olive and Rosemary Oil
Gourmet Olive Oil
Olive Branch and Olive Oil
Olives on Wood Background
How do you manage uncertainty?
I think of the present. I enjoy the present moment and try to predict the future with every step I take.
What success means for you?
Success is being able to sleep peacefully, to be able to rest easy with what I do.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow the same steps as you?
Find what you are passioned about, what you are curious about; that will be what you will be best at and where you will feel better. Use, if possible, the training bases you had in the past but do not just stick to it; what once started as a hobby can perfectly eventually end up being a profession. Some surfers are now surf teachers, or someone who loves to travel can be an excellent tour guide in the cities that he/she knows best.
Being an environmental engineer, how do you see the world in 10 years?
With more electric cars and we can also expect a society more demanding and putting more pressure on ourselves to build a better world. I'm optimistic about the future, but I'd rather not think about it too much. I’d rather live in the present and doing my part; I know I'm doing something good for the environment: firstly, I plant trees and then it's in organic farming, so I'm doing my part for that better world.
If one day you would have to write a book about yourself, what would be the title and who would write the foreword?
I’d write something that would describe my life in Trás-os-Montes. I would write about my passion for the sea (being a surfer myself…) so it could be something like "The Sea in the Olive Grove. About the preface... friends generally know us very well so they would be the authors of the foreword.