"Nobody knows what it will be, but it will be amazing."
"We said that one day we would have a company; we would do things our way, it would be people-oriented, and with the Human Being as its core."
How do you expect the world to be 10 years from now?
I believe we will have to start buying less and better. If we continue doing what we have been doing until now, the planet won’t be able to stand it. I think in the future we will go back in time a bit; formerly, when we would buy a refrigerator, it lasted 30 years; now things are done to last 4. There is a conceptual problem in the market economy. To us, in the beginning, the press called us a "humanistic capitalist enterprise". Despite the existence of a paradox within the definition itself - which is not a problem of course - the very existence of it. So it's good to talk about these things. We believe in this market perception because we believe in the market economy, just as Paulo and I think it’s possible, instead of spending € 5 a bottle of ordinary olive oil, buying a € 20 for special moments. And it’s ok, it’s been like that forever. Just as people used to buy a suit to go to Mass on Sunday. I think 10 years from now there will be more companies and brands like ours. There will be more producers. It is insane that a pound of apples from South America is cheaper than a pound of apple from Óbidos. It's just ridiculous, and it makes less sense to send things in a truck to the other side of the world. There will be more marketplaces of local products. However, we are not fundamentalists, but we believe that we can contribute to a better and fairer world. For us, we are proud to be able to sell Portuguese products like the ones we currently have in our portfolio, and the partnerships developed with Oppidum, Herdade Tapada da Tojeira, Subtil Loom and Beltimore.
I had the first company at age 21, but I’ve never considered myself an entrepreneur. I think I've always been a person who has followed his own dreams. I usually say that I have had, and I have an incredible life. I have had this happiness. I've had severe problems, and I've been unemployed for almost a year, so I've known some kind of pain, success and failure. I also had to leave a company of which I was a partner and currently is very successful and to close a business that could not be viable.
But you have learned immensely and can help others to grow with your experience.
Yes, I learned a lot. Both I and Paulo. But we do not allow ourselves to be fascinated by notoriety. We don’t even have an institutional photograph together, to illustrate the pair of founders. Because, for us, the most important is the product and the company philosophy.
What is it to be an entrepreneur to you?
Sometimes it seems that the entrepreneur is also a poet, in the sense that a utopia becomes a reality. Is that true?
I think sometimes some people can agree on that when they look at O Benefício. Paulo and I believe that, which is a dream we have, a little utopian, but we believe in it. We also had the happiness of having three "Miguéis" in our life, Miguel Fontes of Startup Lisboa, Miguel Albuquerque of Óbidos Technological Park and Miguel Alpoim Ruas of Doctor Spin who always gave us full support. When we show what we do - when we partner with local producers, when we edit our Ginja de Óbidos special edition, when we print a poem on the bottle, when we wrap it in butter paper from our grandparents' time, which also has an illustration and a story - I think so; that sounds like poetry. Just as it is poetry to turn car belts into backpacks, which had never been done. From the organizational point of view, we like to think that we are a kind of ode to humanism since our team works like this.
We are aware that our approach may not be the right one. And do not criticize other models at all; each person has its own model and attitude. What I am saying is valid for our reality, for our approach, and for O Benefício. But we do not look at other choices, they are not really our cup of tea, and we are happy to be welcomed by people who believe in O Benefício, and for that, we are very grateful obviously.