Founders Interviews: João Marques of OSCAR

Indico Capital Partners
5 min readJul 1, 2024


Our Founders Interview this month is with OSCAR’s Founder and CEO, João Marques.

OSCAR is transforming the home services sector by instantly connecting users to repair, maintenance and cleaning professionals, while offering fixed prices for more than 150 services. Through intelligent algorithms, the platform is able to make professionals available in less than 30 minutes and to anticipate challenges during the service.

First, can you tell us about your professional background and the path that led you to OSCAR?

I started as a software engineer. My first job was at Leadzai, where we were building an amazing marketing product with embedded AI, and really became very passionate about how much you can get done with only one computer. It was the first thing that made me really passionate about technology. When I joined Leadzai they were looking for someone with three to five years of experience and I didn’t have that experience. So, I was trying to learn as fast as I could at the time and I dedicated a lot of time to work. I didn’t have time to cook, fix things around the house, and so on. So I was using a lot of food and grocery delivery apps, ride hailing, and I became very passionate about marketplaces, especially the ones that intersect technology with physical services. For me, that intersection — and I still remember the first time I called an Uber and I saw the car on the map and I look forward and I saw it on the street — for me that’s living in the future. I started learning a lot about marketplaces, understanding the dynamics, and I saw huge evolution in terms of control. So, now you can push a button and get everything that you need in a couple of minutes. The same thing was not happening with this industry, so that’s why I decided to create Oscar and solve this problem.

How was OSCAR born, specifically?

It was the day that I took a day off to receive a plumber at my place and the plumber didn’t show up. From that moment I knew that something needed to be done. I started doing some market research and I understood that there was a huge opportunity.

How is your product different from others in the market, or in this case, how is your product filling a gap in the market?

In one word, it’s about control. The problems that you have when you call a professional can include that they don’t show up or they’re late, you don’t know how much you’re going to pay, etc. In general, there’s a lack of transparency, professionalism and quality. So, we just looked at other marketplaces and like them we closed the loop on all the operations. So, the problem still exists, technicians may still arrive late, but now it’s our problem and we solve it with technology. I always say that we are an operations company that solves problems with tech rather than a tech company that has a strong core of operations. All in all, it’s all about the experience. Before looking for product market fit, we always go after service market fit, because that’s the most important thing here. We do fixed prices, we completely eliminate the need to emit a quote, and we arrive in less than 30 minutes. Right now, we are the only ones doing this in the world.

What has been the most crucial moment in the history of OSCAR so far?

I think it was the early days, because we raised such a small round of investment, we raised €70k. As a software engineer, you kind of tend to go and build the best product that you can, and that’s not the right way to do things when you raise €70k. You actually need to invest a lot to prove that you have traction, because if you can’t prove that you have traction, you will not raise the next round. I’ve seen — as you guys might have as well — some amazing products not moving forward because the founders are only focused on building the product. I completely ran away from that. Actually, I always say that if I didn’t know how to code, OSCAR would’ve probably started as a WhatsApp group or something like that, because it’s all about providing the service. So, our focus on traction I think was the most important thing here.

And how did you focus on traction?

Basically, you plant a lot of seeds all over the place. You go and you try to test everything. I read this book called Traction — I’m not really a guy that tends to follow frameworks but this one is really good — which included the bullseye framework. You do a lot of small tests in different channels until you find the one that really moves the needle, and for us the influencer channel. You immediately know once you find that channel. You get explosive growth from one day to another and you just need to then focus on that channel and get the most out of it until you move to the next one.

If you could go back in time, is there anything you’d do differently?

I think we are still suffering from that €70k round to be honest because we had to do things step by step. It took us a little bit more time than I would’ve like it to take. However, I couldn’t change it. It was only my second job, a B2C marketplace in Portugal, it was super risky to invest in us. So, I would’ve loved to have started with a one or two million round, but to be honest I didn’t have the experience to manage that kind of money. So, I think that everything went how it was supposed to.

Do you have any tips or advice for an aspiring founder?

Yeah, I think that when you commit to this, it is really a lifestyle, so you really need to be aware of that. When you start the company like this, there are a lot of things in your personal life and in your lifestyle that you need to change. Its super hard to be honest. There’s no rational way or reason to do this, since the probability of succeeding is very, very low. For me, the only reason that I do this is to change the world. You always think about your shares in their valuation, but it’s something that if it goes that way, perfect, if not, I’m changing the world. I already feel that in Portugal we change the way that people order services and I’m super proud of that.

What can we expect from OSCAR now that you have raised a €6M seed round, speaking of changing the world?

It’s about changing Europe first, so we need to replicate OSCAR across Europe. I’m super obsessed about growth in international countries. First we chose Spain, and we have more countries in our target list to target next, so we need to do what we did right in Lisbon in Madrid, then open other cities in Spain, and then go after other countries. I think time is the most important thing right now because we don’t have any direct competitors, so we really need to do this fast.