Early years and where you came from?
I was born in Bulgaria, and grew up in the U.S. I received my BA Degree in Journalism in San Francisco. Proximity to Silicon Valley sparked an early interest in startups, and I began working in marketing and communications for several tech startups when I was still in University. After graduating I moved to Argentina where I founded an organization called Foreign Morning which supported women entrepreneurs. In 1 year, I grew the community to over 500+ women entrepreneurs and hosted over 15+ events about with strategic partnerships with brands like WeWork.
How were you introduced to the world of the Portuguese tech industry?
I moved to Portugal in 2018 and took my knowledge for building communities and brands to Bravuz — the 1st growth-hacking agency for startups in the country, where I developed and executed content and communication strategies. Of course, I love to connect with other women in tech, and as soon as I found out about the Portuguese Women in Tech community, I signed up to their newsletter to get involved. So far, I’ve loved all of the initiatives they’ve organized, they’ve been incredibly informative and valuable both for my career and personal relationships.
Walk me through your work and what you are doing now in the tech industry.
Currently, I am working in the Growth Marketing team for a Portuguese IT company called Xpand IT. I love being a part of a business growth team because it has a startup feel within a larger organization. On a daily basis, I am executing content marketing campaigns, managing our blog and all of our content throughout lead gen channels.
Of course, I still have my entrepreneurial spark and on the side, I am working on a passion project called Bibliotheca Botanica — a book-recommendations service that guides readers to their new favorite books.
I’ve always had an interest in books, reading and the therapeutic effect that they can have on us, and I wanted to take the guesswork out of selecting the right books.
How does it work?
Step 1 — is you fill out our uniquely formulated questionnaire. This helps us dig deep and understand exactly the kind of books you’ll connect with.
Step 2- we make personally curated book-recommendations and send it directly to your email.
Of course, I want tech and data to be the backbone of this service, and I want to develop an AI algorithm that makes selections even more accurate.
What part of what you do, you love the most?
I love that both my job and my project, allow me to combine my passion for technology and the people who are at the center of it. I think that technology should be built for people, and help us become even better versions of ourselves.
How do you think that your background and knowledge impact the way you approach your work in the Portuguese tech industry?
Coming from San Francisco, the startup “capital” of the world — I’ve been aware from a young age that networking is everything. I approach my work and life that same way here in the Portuguese tech industry. Luckily, it is a very diverse and open industry with lots of events, communities and networks to get involved.
What advice do you have for young women that want to get into tech and don’t know where to start?
Advice #1: Go to local tech events! Meeting people through different events has hands down been the greatest career booster for me.
Advice #2: Networking for introverts. I consider myself more of an introvert, and networking isn’t always easy for me — so my advice is: look at the invite list and see if you can connect with someone that will be attending the event. If that’s not possible, at the event, approach only one or two people and stick to forming a deeper connection with them instead of trying to talk with as many people as you can. Quality over quantity is what matters.
Advice #3: Keep in touch! After meeting people at events, always reach out and connect on Linkedin and go out for a coffee. You never know what these connections could lead to in the future.
There are boundless opportunities waiting for you when you put yourself out there. You can be afraid — but no it anyways!
Walk me through a day in your life as a Portuguese women in tech.
First thing in the morning, I like to make coffee and breakfast and take some time for myself. I’ll journal and also read a little bit.
Commute! I have a quick commute but always bring a book.
Arrive at the office. In the morning I like to do creative work — writing blog posts, ebooks, reviewing content, etc.
Lunchtime — I’ll go to the gym for a quick sweat session. This is a new routine which really helps me keep sharp for the afternoon.
Afternoon work — this is mostly meetings, calls and emails.
Home: I’ll have dinner and wind-down. In the evening I would work on my personal project before heading to bed.
Always in bed with a book.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Feel the fear but do it anyway” I’m not sure where I heard this from but it deeply resonates with me. When I feel a slight uneasiness or fear about something it means I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone, and ultimately that means I’m growing. Of course, we all want that, don’t we?
“Embrace the unknown” This is a kind of quote I made up for myself when I was first starting out in my career and I didn’t know what to do. This motto has also kept me going throughout my career because there are always changes and unexpected things.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google Suite, Canva (great for making graphics), Mailchimp, Instagram
Anything else you would like to share? :)
In Lisbon, I also host a women’s book-club and community. If you’d like to join, just sign-up here :)
👉Find Tonislava on LinkedIn