70 questions with Tiago Silva Pereira, founder of Unobvious co-working space and WYZE Mobility: From art to helicopters and e-scooters

By Elham P.Mohammadi

Vibrant colors, futuristic design, cute furniture, fancy stationery, comfy sofas, and Instagrammable spots can be found in almost every co-working space these days. But there’s one thing you won’t find everywhere: a soul. 

It’s something that cannot be bought. It can only be breathed into a space.

And “Unobvious” obviously has it.

A co-working and co-creating space, café, events venue, and art hub in Santos, in the picturesque heart of Lisbon, Unobvious has life. 

Its founder, Tiago Silva Pereira, has definitely brought a special spirit to this space, and you can tell because “vibes don’t lie”.

Unobvious is actually more like a museum or art exhibition. It’s full of unique works of art that will captivate art lovers and non-art lovers alike. It’s a place where you can easily find yourself immersed in a state of flow. It’s where you can feel detached from the rest of the world, but strangely, not isolated.

It’s quiet and loud at the same time.

It warms your heart, feeds your soul, and frees your mind.

“Sophisticated” is what it is.

Unobvious Lab (Photo by Elham P.Mohammadi)

Sustainability enthusiasts will likely appreciate Unobvious even more, as it was designed with hedonism and impact in mind and aims to raise awareness of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which focuses on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

So Unobvious was the obvious choice to host Tiago’s other business, WYZE Mobility—an impact startup on a mission to make urban centers more liveable with aesthetic, silent, and decarbonized micromobility solutions that combine technology with two-wheeled electric vehicles.

After being given a tour of Unobvious by a friendly staff member with a beaming smile, I sat down with Tiago to ask him 70 questions. 

He describes himself as a “hedonist,” believes there’s no “Planet B”, was an advisor to the Portuguese minister of defense, worked as a director at the Anglo-Italian helicopter design and manufacturing company “AgustaWestland”, and, of course, likes art and entrepreneurship. 

So our conversation ranged from sustainability, art, happiness, and kick scooters to co-working tips, business advice, and helicopters. I hope you have as much fun reading about them as we had discussing them. 

1- What’s “unobvious” to first-timers at Unobvious, but not to regulars?

The special attention to detail that has gone into the design and decoration of this space. For example, no two chairs here are the same. Even if they’re the same model, they have different colors.  

Every piece is carefully curated and hand-picked because I wanted it to be an inviting space where people wouldn’t only feel comfortable, but also inspired. A place where they’d love to be and return to.

2- Why is Unobvious the best place to host WYZE?

Because WYZE wants to be “wise”. I didn’t want WYZE to be just another player in the market. I wanted it to have a personality and stand out from the crowd by promoting a lifestyle that combines hedonism and impact.

Unobvious Lab (Photo by Elham P.Mohammadi)

3- Your definition of hedonism?

Happiness. Maximized happiness. People have different definitions of happiness, but you should always seek it and live in accordance with your own unique definition.

4- What’s the inspiration behind Unobvious?

It happened quite organically. For many years I’d wanted a space that combined a café, an art hub, and a co-working and event space. I never liked conventional offices and wanted to build a place where I myself would like to be.

5- You spent about a year in Paris in 2002. Do you think that experience helped shape your creative side?

It probably did, even though I may not have been aware of it. Paris is full of life, aesthetic surprises, and interesting architecture. After my stay in Paris, I developed a taste for unique pieces of furniture.

Unobvious Lab (Photo source: Unobvious Lab/Instagram)

6- The most important co-working space etiquette tip?

Respecting the privacy of others and minding your own business. Of course, co-working is about building a community and networking, but you need to be understanding of others’ moods and preferences.

7- Your favorite spot at Unobvious?

My office on the top floor.

8- What’s special about your favorite spot at Unobvious?

The view. I can see everything from there–the people, the street, the art. Even the art that’s being created. For example, we had artists here who painted, and tattoo artists who created beautiful works of art.

Unobvious Lab (Photo source: Unobvious Lab/Instagram)

9- If “Unobvious” wasn’t a co-working space/café, what would it be?

Hopefully it would have been the United Nations SDG headquarters in Portugal.

10- Why “WYZE”?

In terms of both name and purpose, I wanted something that reflected impact and hedonism.

11- Your definition of “wysdom”?

Enjoying your life while being responsible and making an impact.

12- The most aesthetically pleasing smart cities you’ve visited?

Stockholm and Amsterdam.  

13- The best life lesson you learned during your career at the Ministry of Defense?

Work hard.

14- What do the military industry and entrepreneurship have in common?

They can both thrive on innovation.

15- Your favorite piece of art at Unobvious?

My favorite piece of art used to be a painting that’s no longer here. But my favorite now is the small bunny sculpture over there. It’s funny. It’s colorful. It makes me smile when I look at it.  

Tiago’s favorite piece of art at Unobvious Lab (Photo by Elham P.Mohammadi)

16- What entrepreneurial mistake did you learn the most from?

Casting the wrong people because it’s going to be very painful to have people on board who don’t align with your values and your business in general.

17- What’ll be your next startup if you decide to create one?

Actually, I’d like to create two more startups. The WYZE Foundation to further promote sustainability, especially the SDG agenda. And Unobvious Sustainable Investments.

18- What’s micromobility?

Light vehicles, typically two-wheeled, used for short rides of up to five kilometers.

19- Do you have a hidden talent?

I’m not even sure I have an “obvious” talent, let alone a hidden one!

20- What are you most proud of in your life?

My son. My family altogether, but especially my son.

21- The best thing about not being an employee?


22- Your top three personality traits?

Stubbornness, which we can call “determination”. Mental strength. Humility.

23- Three characteristics of a good entrepreneur?

Humility. People skills. Resilience. 

24- What kind of art would you pursue if you were an artist?

Photography. It’s a fantastic way to express art and make moments last forever.

25- And if you were a photographer, what would be your niche?

People and landscapes.  

26- Your favorite artists?

I love Damien Hirst. His sculpture “For the Love of God” is incredible. I also like Andy Warhol, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso. And, of course, Banksy–the artist whose painting self-destructed after it sold for $1.4 million at auction.

“For the Love of God” by artist Damien Hirst (Photo source: Wikipedia)

27- How would your colleagues/friends describe you?

I have no idea, but maybe a stubborn person, a positive guy (not an optimist), and hopefully someone reliable.

28- The most interesting thing about helicopters?

Their look.

29- Your favorite event at Unobvious so far?

“Art for Ukraine”. It was about raising money to support Ukrainians, and art was the catalyst to achieve that goal.

Unobvious Lab (Photo by Elham P.Mohammadi)

30- What do people always get wrong about you?

I don’t know.  

31- What do people get right about you?

That I’m a genuine person.

32- Your favorite drink at the Unobvious cafe?

Ginger Kombucha. You should try it!

33- If you could change one thing about the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) blueprint, what would it be?

The level of awareness should be much higher. Many people don’t know about the SDG agenda.

34- Which SDGs are closest to your heart?

Almost all of them. But definitely “No Poverty”, “Zero Hunger”, “Sustainable Cities and Communities”, and “Partnerships for the Goals”. 

United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (Photo source: UN)

35- Where do you see the SDG agenda in 2030?

I see that it’s endorsed more broadly and many companies inevitably implement it to varying degrees.

36- Where do you see yourself, WYZE, and Unobvious in 2030?

I see myself as a happy, relaxed person who enjoys his family, his business, and the people around him. And WYZE and Unobvious will be spreading happiness and making an impact all over the world, not only in Europe.

37- Did you know that the word “helicopter” comes from the Greek words “helix” (spiral) and “pteron” (wing)?

No. That’s interesting

38- Did you know that the military slang for a helicopter is “helo” (HEE-low)?

Yes. I’d heard it from some people and also in movies.

39- Your guilty pleasure?

Candies and chocolates.

40- Your definition of a smart city as a hedonist?

A city that gives both its permanent and temporary residents as many buttons as possible to push so that their happiness level is at the highest possible level, starting with mobility. It also teaches them how to live sustainable lives by raising awareness of the SDG agenda.

41- Your favorite book?

The one I’m reading right now. “A Life on Our Planet” by David Attenborough.

“A Life on Our Planet” by David Attenborough (Photo source: Amazon)

42- A life lesson you wish you’d learned sooner?

Know who to trust.

43- What would you say to your younger self?

“Be wise. Work well. Play better. Never be afraid of being the black sheep, and don’t waste your time.”

44- What would you ask your older self?

“How long will it be before I achieve the level of freedom I seek?”

45- Which city is smarter? Lisbon or Paris?


46- The most important productivity skill?

Time management. It looks easy, but it’s not.

A piece of art created at Unobvious Lab (Photo source: Unobvious Lab/Instagram)

47- If you were a vehicle, what would you be and why?

Helicopter. I like the way they look. I like the way they fly. With a helicopter, I can take my family and friends and fly wherever I want.

48- The biggest misconception about sustainability?

People think it’s all about the environment and CO2 emissions. But it’s about much more than that. It’s about all 17 SDGs. People tend to reduce the UN sustainability agenda to the environment.

49- Your favorite sustainability trend/practice?

Sharing economy.

50- A global sustainability trend you wish was more prevalent in Portugal?

Shared mobility.

51- The best compliment you’ve heard about Unobvious?

“I love it!”

Tiago at Unobvious Lab (Photo source: Unobvious Lab/Instagram)

52- The best feedback you’ve received from WYZE users?

“With WYZE, I can reach my destination in a fast, cool, and sustainable way.”

53- The smart cities that are at the top of your travel list?

Singapore and Oslo.

54- The most important thing people can only learn with age?

Tolerance. And I’d like to emphasize that it’s different from “patience”.

55- Your favorite electric car brand?

It may sound like a cliché, but as far as I know, Tesla is doing well. I love Tesla, but I might have named another brand if I’d known more about the electric car market.

56- A good gift idea for a sustainability lover?

A WYZE electric moped or kick scooter.

57- You mean like a subscription plan?

We sell them too! Renting them is the core of the business, but we sell them as well.

A WYZE vehicle (Photo source: WYZE Mobility/Instagram)

58- Something you used to strongly believe in but now don’t?

That people are good. I still have faith in humanity, but my experience shows that people in general aren’t so good.

59- Elon Musk and sustainability?

He’s a genius. But I don’t know in detail how sustainable his companies actually are.

60- The next milestone for you?

Fundraising for WYZE Mobility.

61- Your favorite quote of all time?

“One life. Live it well.”

Unobvious Lab (Photo source: Unobvious Lab/Instagram)

62- A piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself with the right people.

63- The biggest myth about entrepreneurship?

“It’s easy and anyone can do it.”

64- If green didn’t represent sustainability, what color would? Why?

Pink. It’s a bright color that makes me smile. It’s also associated with women, which I find interesting.

65- A habit you wish you’d developed sooner?

Waking up early. The earlier you wake up, the more you can enjoy the day, whether for work or for other purposes.

66- A habit you’d like to break?


67- A new skill you learned in the last six months or want to learn in the next six months?

I want to learn how to pitch efficiently to investors, especially for fundraising purposes.

68- The entrepreneur who inspires you the most?

I hope it’ll be me in five years.

69- How do you want to be remembered?

A good, happy guy who could teach and inspire others to live a good life.

70- A question you’d like to be asked but wasn’t in this interview? And your answer? 

What drives you? 

My answer is: Love and happiness.

I think for many years happiness was like a “taboo” or something “unachievable”. I don’t believe in that. I think you can and should incorporate love and happiness into your daily life, your conversations, your work, and everything you do.

You should love what you do. You should love the people around you. You should be happy for as long as you can.

That’s what drives me: Love and happiness.

Unobvious Lab (Photo by Elham P.Mohammadi)

Author bio: Elham P.Mohammadi is a journalist and the founder of ElhamX Media.

Disclaimer: Some photos in this article are old photos from Unobvious Lab. However, from my own experience, I can say that Unobvious looks even more aesthetically pleasing now.

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