Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight: Trigger.Systems


Trigger.Systems provides water and energy savings by automatically recommending and updating irrigation plans based on weather forecasts and intelligence models.


COO, Sara Gonçalves

Name: Trigger.Systems

Location: Portugal and Chile

Website: www.trigger.systems

Product / Service Offering: WEB Platform for remote control and complete automation of irrigation and fertirrigation systems

Co-founder Interviewed: Sara Gonçalves (COO)

Other Key Management Team Members: Francisco Manso (CEO) and Márcio Martins (CTO)

This article is part of our Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight Series featuring female entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?

I’m an agronomist, who graduated from the University of Porto in Portugal where I found a great passion for technology and problem solving. For the final project of my bachelor’s degree I learned and developed a web platform. Then, I worked in the Geospatial Research Center where I gained experience working with satellite images and extracting vegetation indexes.

My aim is to develop innovative and efficient solutions using technology that will improve agricultural processes.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

Trigger.SystemsFrancisco has a lot of experience working with automation systems. He developed his own system that was applied with success to many clients. This system wasn’t updated in terms of technology, but the predictive models had great results. The team aims to bring the most recent technology to apply the tested models and make systems more efficient. The company was established in Portugal during 2016.

What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?

  • Efficient use of water and energy. We provide savings of water and energy to our clients.
  • Reduce labor associated with irrigation of their crops.
  • More efficient irrigation systems that allows for better yields and reduced costs.
  • Achieving a more sustainable production.

What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?

Trigger.SystemsMost people start with a solution and look for a problem, instead, we develop the solutions for our customer’s problems.

We provide water and energy savings by automatically recommending and updating irrigation plans based on weather forecasts and intelligence models. In the same platform it is possible to control every device of the system. Not only irrigation, but also fertilization, pumps, tanks and others devices. It is also possible to manage the tasks of the workers, manage equipment routes as well as stock management.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

I would say that our greatest challenge was to find passionate people that self-identify with the project. We accomplished this through time and effort. I spent many hours checking profiles on LinkedIn and going to hackathons doing “headhunting”. Fortunately, today we have a great team, and I think we found every necessary element. I am very proud of the Trigger.Systems team we built, and I am sure that is what will bring us success.

Staffing issues? Check out Personnel and Organization: Chicken or the Egg?

Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

Hiring a native expert. This helped us overcome many obstacles such as language, the foreign pulse and traditions that may influence the way business are conducted, and others.

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?

We applied to calls for investment from venture capitalists and Portugal Ventures invested in us. This worked very well so I would probably do the same again.

Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?

Yes, with bureaucracies. Opening company, fiscal obligations, hiring processes. Fortunately, we have good advisors that helped us surpass all these issues in a timely manner.

What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?

My biggest professional/personal challenge nowadays is not having fluent Spanish to address Spanish-speaking clients. I am working hard on it – if I can make it, it would be thanks to the Duolingo team. They’ve helped me a lot.

What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?

  1. Always, I mean always, google it first.
  2. Listening is your best strength.
  3. Focus on the things that matter and those we can change or improve. If you can’t change it, don’t overthink it.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?

The investment we received from Portugal Ventures as well as CORFO fund will allow us to address new markets in South America. We believe that Chile can be our entrance to the South America market, and we know we have a lot to do here.

Understanding Your Competitive Environment

Trigger.SystemsWe must sensitize the population about excessive water and energy consumption. This will not only have a great impact for our planet safety but also for the farmer’s production costs and municipalities expenses.

Our company focuses on developing solutions based on intelligence, technology, efficiency and sustainability, and that is exactly what we are planning to do.

Trigger.Systems is proud to announce they won the 2017 grant of Entrepreneurship promoted by the representation of the European Commission in Portugal. We also won Get in the Ring and went to the final round in Singapore. We decided to invest the prize money in the development of solutions to help countries where water scarcity is an everyday reality for the population.

Advice to women entrepreneurs…

Don’t let anyone treat you like dirt, but neither let anyone treat you like a flower. You have the same ability to reach wherever you want. You don’t need free tickets, you just need to work hard and believe in yourself.

Are you familiar with other Women led startups? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing your comments below!

Liz Bennett

Liz is the Assistant Director of the ETSU Innovation Lab, adjunct faculty for the College of Business and Technology at ETSU, Kelley School of Business MBA graduate and former intern at Plug & Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley. A lifelong learner, she is interested in all aspects of entrepreneurship and enjoys helping startups explore the possibilities. She currently sits on the TurboFunder Product / Market Advisory Board.