David Isserman, an American entrepreneur Chief Operating Officer at Touchstone Essentials and Founder of Isserman Ventures decided to move from America to Portugal with his wife, Anna, in 2022. “We really love Portugal”, David admits that “the kindness of the Portuguese, the climate, the safety, but also the fact that Portugal has really been investing in becoming an innovative centre for Europe, and my background in e-commerce and entrepreneurship made it a really easy decision for us to base here”.

With a career spanning over decades in the ecommerce industry, David has played a key role in directing Touchstone Essentials' development and international reach. “We are a direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand that serves over half a million customers worldwide.” With warehouses and staff spread across Europe and America, David stated that Portugal offers the best location to settle. “As I’m working with people from all over Europe and America, Lisbon becomes a great place to be based, a very convenient one”.

European Capital of Innovation

Lisbon's recent designation as the European Capital of Innovation signifies a dramatic shift in the direction of a future influenced by creativity and technical development in a world where innovation is heading towards change. “I think this status helped put Lisbon on the map – it has been a talking point between American entrepreneurs”, David revealed, adding that “Portugal has a history of having some ‘unicorns’ that people in the US are familiar with and I believe that it helped in making Portugal stand out to Americans”. Moreover, “I think something interesting about the startup ecosystem in Lisbon is that there are the traditional startup accelerators, and also new types of environmental startup accelerators, which is quite remarkable”, he added.

This distinction gives more to Lisbon than just acknowledgement. It’s making the city a top choice for American innovators and digital nomads searching for new opportunities. According to the entrepreneur, besides the status of Lisbon as the new Innovation Capital, another crucial factor which has shaped the flow of Americans moving to Portugal is the recognition of Lisbon as one of the top 10 innovation hubs. “These are things that are important for people who are considering relocating to new cities and countries where they want to establish themselves”.

Younger generations

The increase in the number of Americans moving to Portugal initially started with retirees, but David believes what will continue to drive the flow will be “the younger generation, as they are interested in being in a city dedicated to helping innovators”. As a supporter of creative direct-to-consumer e-commerce start-ups, David believes that the “supportive ecosystem backed by both the government and the private sector,” plus the recent recognitions already mentioned are “reshaping the city into a hub for global entrepreneurs”.

“Part of what excited me about being here is the amount of highly qualified educated and skilled talent. As a result, you have all of these entrepreneurs and experts across multiple areas in the same city”. Admitting it was “relatively easy to adapt to Portugal”, David explains that the Government makes it welcoming for people who want to move to Portugal, and that the process is quite straightforward. The entrepreneur also emphasized that Portugal’s “quality of life regarding safety, healthcare, cultural activities and life in general, is what people are looking for”.

Quality of life

David also mentioned in regards to Portugal’s quality of life the role the Portuguese government plays “Portugal has a government that is highly supportive regarding innovation, and that is one of the main reasons why I believe Americans are interested in Lisbon”. However, he adds, that not only Americans want to move to Portugal, but people from all over Europe, Canada and Brazil. “The City Council has put innovation as one of the main objectives for the city – you have the amazing accelerators that startups can join, you have the Web Summit, you have networking meetings where entrepreneurs gather, you have organisations that you can get involved in. Everything is here”.

This environment leads to a “melting pot of cultures” as mentioned by Mr. Isserman, which is critical for furthering innovation. He believes that “Lisbon is the place to be and is at the very beginning of its growth. David, who is also involved as a Board Director and Executive Committee Member at ‘The Explorers Club’ in New York, which recently opened a chapter in Portugal, explains that “organizations like ‘The Explorers Club’ can play a pivotal role in fostering local support for conservation, science, and exploration. I believe that the Portugal chapter can help act as a beacon for community engagement and further innovation in these critical fields”.

David and his wife, Anna, recently bought a home in Lapa, Lisbon. Besides the projects mentioned above, David and Anna are also involved in different organizations and activities in Portugal, including ‘Pangea Trust’ and its “launch of Europe’s first large scale elephant sanctuary in the Alentejo”. Receiving distinguished acknowledgment, including a Portuguese knighthood in 2023, David has definitely happily settled in Portugal. As he shared, “We are very excited to be here, this is our home and we can’t imagine our lives anywhere else outside of Portugal”.


After studying Journalism for five years in the UK and Malta, Sara Durães moved back to Portugal to pursue her passion for writing and connecting with people. A ‘wanderluster’, Sara loves the beach, long walks, and sports. 

Sara J. Durães