Launching a Startup during lockdown at DSH Lisbon: Lykeion’s story

Starting a business from scratch is challenging by itself, even at the best of times. But to kickstart your idea during a pandemic can only get harder, right? For that reason and many more, we decided to bring you the story of our first DSH guests. The brave ones, who stayed with us right when the pandemic started, and yet manage to launch their business and now share their experience with us. Could it get more authentic and real? We don’t think so…

Tim Purcell, Lykeion Co-Founder, was the first guest to walk through the doors of Draper Startup House Lisbon. Being a Coliving Space that targets entrepreneurs, we were delighted to hear Tim was coming to stay with us. After all, people and stories like his are the reason we do at we do. At the time, Tim and Diego were working on Lykeion´s MVP. Little did they know that the lockdown would make the DSH Lisbon space their house and office for the next month!

Almost seven months after, we decided to contact Tim when knowing that Lykeion was successfully launched. We wanted to know the ins and outs of the idea and share their story with our community. During this phone call, we were able to conduct a very friendly and informal interview.

So, grab a cup of coffee, sit and enjoy the next couple of minutes of our interview with the Lykeion team.

Hello Tim, great chatting with you again! I want to start this interview by giving our readers the idea and concept behind the business. In short, what is Lykeion?

My pleasure Henrique! In a nutshell, we explain the financial narratives that entrepreneurs and the business-oriented need to know by sending them 1–2 pieces of content a week. We want to help entrepreneurs understand and form opinions on the financial markets and the economy without needing to read (noisy and low quality) financial media daily.

The core belief at Lykeion is that financial markets and the economy are very important as they impact everyone’s everyday life, but that there is a lot more to life than just markets.

We believe that, with 10–20 minutes of reading every week, our audience will be fully up to speed on the important narratives that are being discussed within the niche network of financial professionals (whom we leverage from our extensive network), which frequently differs, and often precedes, what you can read in financial news (or inaccessible if you’re not willing to spend $10,000/year)

How would you describe your product?

Our product is a hybrid between a newsletter and a full digital publication. We create 1–2 pieces of content a week. An email is sent out for each publication which contains the Key Highlights of the piece. This email represents about 20% of what the full piece is and is intended for audiences who don’t have the time to read the full piece. The full piece lives on the website for readers to read at their convenience.

Not just a product, there is way more going on, right?

Ultimately, we’re more than a written product. We’re a community of engaged people who are constantly debating ideas and thoughts. The value of reading our content is compounded by the benefit of being part of our network as we frequently bring together like-minded people that operate in significantly different verticals.

How would you describe your goal, or what is it that you want to achieve with Lykeion?

The long-term goal for Lykeion is to help our readers build a foundational understanding of the financial world around them in a way that is not overwhelming. Additionally, as part of our growth strategy, we’ll pair traditional finance understanding with the developments in the ecosystem of Impact Investing, to create a platform for the development of what we call “Conscious Capitalism”. In it, we’ll bring entrepreneurs and finance professionals together and explore the compromise needed for impact and profitability to work together, in a sustainable and mutually beneficial way.

I touched on it a little bit above, but Lykeion was created because the gap in the market that exists today is twofold:

1. The really smart people, the ones who understand what is going on, tend to only speak to the same, very small and exclusive audience, not bringing to the masses the type of information that needs to be disseminated.

2. The rare moments when those really smart people do get in front of the masses (i.e. they make their way onto financial news sites), they usually only get 90 seconds to discuss things that need WAY more in-depth conversations and education in order to be understood.

Lykeion is trying to bridge this gap between the experts and entrepreneurs AND to bring it to the people in a way that a non-PhD in economics can understand.

Going forward, we also believe that the dislocation between ‘traditional’ finance and ‘Impact’ finance needs to be addressed as for Capitalism to work for everyone, we need to reach a compromise between profitability and sustainability.

Can you share with us a bit more about the process of creating Lykeion? When did you “charter” the business?

The concept for the first iteration of Lykeion took place over a dinner in New York (with several bottles of wine), but it did not begin to take any sort of form until we arrived in Lisbon at the Draper Startup House.

From there, during March, Diego and I spent a couple of dozen iterations, and countless hours, trying to figure out, “what the hell are we trying to accomplish?”

The first newsletter was sent out in May 2020 and so far, we have published 15 pieces and are working towards a re-design of the site (to be completed before the end of the year) which will better represent the long-term strategy. We expect to launch Impact by Spring of 2021.

How would you describe your experience in DSH Lisbon?

DSH felt like home in a period of time in which everything was shutting down. The team at Draper kept the hostel open just so that we could keep on working on Lykeion as if the materialization of our ideas mattered more than the financial interest of the business (also, we drank a lot of their coffee…).

The team at DSH made us feel like they are very much aligned with the needs and wants of every entrepreneur, especially when the company is in its early innings.

Even though there were no other guests at the hostel because of the lockdown, the team was always there and willing to stress test ideas (they’re also entrepreneurs at heart), discuss funding initiatives, introduce us to local talent, and broadly speaking, make sure that everything we needed to succeed was at our fingertips.

Diego and the team hacking at DSH Lisbon Co-working Office

Finally, we want to tell you more about the amazing team that lies this great idea. Lykeion is founded by two amazing guys, Tim and Diego, and their editorial board consists of experienced market practitioners, Roger and Manuel.

The co-founders are Diego and I (Tim) and we met while working at a previous startup, Real Vision, while living in the Cayman Islands (yes, some people work there…). We ran the Corporate Development & Strategy team, managing the long term corporate strategic vision, as well as managing fundraising and strategic partnerships. We both co-manage the business and write. Diego is more focused on the editorial side of things (content schedule planning, identifying thematics, etc.) and I’m responsible for design and brand, and both of us are responsible for growth until we can bring someone on board to manage that side with us. Diego is based out of Malta but travels monthly, whilst I’m on the road permanently. Roger Hirst was brought on board as our Senior Macro Editor and creates all of our Macro content. He comes from a long line of hedge fund investing and derivatives sales. Roger is based out of London, and his accent denounces him rather quickly. Manuel Antunes is coming aboard to lead our Impact initiative. He has broad-based experience across the finance world and is currently an associate at Mustard Seed, an Impact VC in London. He is one of only three people in London to own a surfboard there. We’re actively engaged in their network and expect several new people to start contributing to Lykeion content.

Lykeion´s Team

We want to thank Tim and his team for sharing their story with us. Lykeion is live and you can subscribe (for free) for their content at thelykeion.com

One thing that we can surely tell is that if a startup can survive a pandemic, we believe is ready to survive anything. Lessons learned, use this time to rethink, to prioritize your activities, strive for more, and work hard! Believe in yourself and you will see how anything is possible.

Until next time!

Team DSH Lisbon

Draper Startup House is on a mission to connect, inspire and empower the world’s entrepreneurs, small businesses and remote workers to be successful. We create co-working and co-living spaces, with an added layer of entrepreneurial education and access to venture capital. Our global hubs aggregate talent and ideas from every corner of the world and provide them with a full ecosystem of tools to be successful. Visit Draperstartuphouse.com/usa to learn more.

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