Diary of an Economic Crisis Survivor

Life, Death and Miracles of a Startup, in the Italy of the Economic Crisis

Tag: diariodiunsopravvissutoallacrisi

21. Born of a Startup: building a company in Italy.

SEPTEMBER 8, 2014, HOURS 21:56

DAY 204

diary of a crisis survivor 21 key door

The time has come.

We have made the most important step.

We officially created our company.

Victory is officially a  “Società a responsabilità Limitata” (the equivalent of the English limited company(CLUE N.7).

 

After so many months, we have arrived where so many of us didn’t think to arrive.

It was not easy of course, and everything will be much harder from now on.

But our time has come.

 

The first question we asked ourselves was: “What is the best type of company to build our startup?”

The first choice was to set up a company where the responsibility is only of the company and not of the partners.

The second choice was to choose the type of company. We opted for a private limited company, that, in Italy, is a company where the human element is stronger than the interests of the shareholder.

Finally, it will be important to be able to be recognized as an “Innovative Startup“, a new and unique type of Limited Company, which can be exploited in Italy for two years now.

 

I will speak about it in the next post, now I’m going to celebrate Victory with the team.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I see that The Great C is escaping.

diary of a crisis survivor 21 The great c is escaping

20. Start up Competition: a way to grow

SEPTEMBER 1, 2014, HOURS 13:20

DAY 197

diary of a crisis survivor startup competition win

We fight the Great C.

Now officially.

While the wars rage in the world, while Italy continues risking sinking (inaction is not usefull) and the Great C is looking for another victim, we face an important moment in the life of a startup.

 

Thanks to writing a Business Plan we are able to sign up to the Startup Competition that we have identified.

It will be an important step, because we will face the public for the first time.

The goal is plural:

  1. Finding financiers or “companions” that can help us on the journey;
  2. Giving visibility to our idea.

For this reason, we are motivated.

Obviously we don’t know yet if we can.

However, being able to “compete officially” gives us a lot of enthusiasm.

We decided to take this step because the first feedback (with friends, family and experts) has been extremely positive.

I’ll leave you, now is the time.

With my click we will be officially in the race.

I’m going to click on (and begin to think that, this time seriously and concretely this time, we will win our battle with the Great C).

diary of a crisis survivor startup competition

19. No Country for Young Men.

Agoust 6, 2014, HOURS 22:31

DAY 171. diary of a crisis survivor recession

Recession. GDP -0.2%.

The worst for 14 years.

“Recession is back in Italy”

No. The Great C is back. Rather. It was never gone. And we knew it, I always repeat it in this blog: the inaction of the country is evident, and the cultural, economic, structural gap with other European countries is widening. “The Italian growth will come between 10 years.”  The voice of the people…10 years because they realize that the job is so much to do that it will be a long path.

The problem is the lack of  trust and opportunities for the young men. We need to have our chanche to play, we are too brilliant to be wasted. Victory is the startup of my dreams. For her, I fight every day to overcome the obstacles that sometimes seems to be insurmountable.

I can’t continue to be an “aspiring old  in a country for old men,” in Italy I can’t afford to invest my few money in a startup(although it is my startup and my dream). The risk is too high. Am I a gambler? Perhaps. Maybe the solution is in another country…. I’ll propose this idea to Victory’s team.

How many startup will die before the end of The Great C?

How many entrepreneurs will waste their projects?

How many young man will leave the country?

Maybe there is no hope Italy. No country for young men.

diary of a crisis survivor No Country for Young Men

15. Do you know what is the ideal customer of your Startup?

JULY 7, 2014, HOURS 16:54

DAY 142

dIARY OF A CRISIS SURVIVOR target customer

How hard it create a startup in Italy in 2014? 

It’s for this reason that from four months, I tell about the story of my startupVictory (its name), but basically I tell about the condition of young people in Italyin 2014. Tale of those young people who want to do and who daily tryto survive The Great C:tale of those young people who, driven by enthusiasm and passion, have a business idea and want to concretize it.

While many startups and businesses are dying, Victorycarries on, and the last steps that we have made was to identify the target toward which we address: identify the ideal customer of our services, our target.

This kind of activity(not a simple activity but a complex process),  actually it isn’t done by most of the companies,becasuse they tend to have the fear of reducing its p0ssibility of business in the face of a bid to one specific category.

In reality this is not soin fact, the target can be detected in a more or less schematic processIn short, a complex analysis.
But why is fundamental identify a predefined targetIt’s a necessary step for each type of startup for several reasonsthe most important are probably

  1. Identification of pricing policies
  2. Identifying the type of communication;
  3. Locating the process of purchase by the consumer.

An essential step for every startups

Victoria knows its target, and you?

10. Misinformation

May 26, 2014, h. 16:16

DAY 100

Disinformation.

The reason of the failure of so many good projects.

Startup or Politicians.

Disinformation is also the word emblem of the last European elections, in my opinion.

diary of a crisis survivor disinformation

Most of the Italian citizens couldn’t benefit from a proper system of information by the media and political parties, because last week, the three “Big Boss“(Renzi , Grillo and Berlusconi) thought only to insult between them. And the citizens didn’t even know how to vote.

It matters little that won the Partito Democratico.. ’cause now, in Italy the only loser is the citizen…who knows little of what actually happens in the politic’s palaces and who daily must survive the Great C.

Aware of the importance of communication I have raised the issue to the team of my startup, and from a couple of weeks to now, we are organizing a Marketing Plan, at a strategic level and at a operational level. Probably I’ll tell you in the future.

Meanwhile, we are stuck in the critical step of identifying the target customer of  our startup(step number 1 in a definition of Marketing Strategy): market analysis and subsequent viability and sustainability of the idea. There is so much to do. Because the later stages will be to work closely with our designers D and with “I Nerd per caso“, which respectively  will deal with the graphics and development.

But in the meantime we will do everything possible to inform “our target customers ” of what we do, how we do it and, especially, why we do it.

The disinformation is nothing more than a helper of Great C.

We will fight it, even for you.

9. I quit work for my Startup

May 15, 2014

DAY 89

diario-di-un-sopravvissuto-alla-crisi-startup-licenziarsi-per-la-propria-startup

It ‘s almost happened.

The Great C was going to enlist in its ranks. Bringing my startup.

Everything happened in a short, very short time, and it lasted a few days.

The Great C has knocked on my door and quickly I had to make the best decision: quit my job.

 

I’m unemployed, like many young people in Italy at the moment.

But I came out head-up, and above all, in spite of the Great C finding me, flushing me, chasing me and “dressing to kill” .. I managed to escape: I leave a consulting job in a multinational company after a few(perhaps too many few years), but in my small baggage I have the right elements to continue / start my journey.

Compared to two years ago, I have a bit of extra money, experience and above all my startup. In fact, they  required me to take a cut in my salary, increase my working hours(from 40 to 45), so to have the “safe” possibility to have a career.

Do you believe? I don’t. and then I quit.

But I feel I made the right step. At least for now. Leave a stable job and “career opportunities”, to give birth to my startup, I’m motivated and careful.

Because the Great C never.

The Great C will never have me.

8. Save or Quality? The choice of the Competitive Strategy

MAY 8, 2014, h.12:26

DAY 82

diario-di-un-sopravvissuto-alla-crisis-startup-strategia-differenziazione-bassi-costi
I’m tired
. Tired of a sick system, in a country that tries to get up but has no strength in its legs .

And I feel people’s depression. The Great C is enlarging its ranks: everyday there are more victims. From the ” real victims “( those who really don’t make it), to those who, being too depressed, don’t do anything to survive, and, in this way, they enlarge the ranks of The Great C, abandoning wonderful work projects , including startup projects.

In this environment it’s very hard to work on a startup. Last night, infact, during our weekly meeting of the startup, there was a dispute. The reason ? The choice of the strategic competitive advantage to pursue.

Savings or quality, how many times I have heard this phrase.

On TV, in commercials. Theoretically , knowingly or unknowingly, when you start your own business, you make a strategic choice of competitive advantage: focus on the quality of your product, and then point to the fact that customers are willing to pay a premium price for that “plus”, or supporting low-cost and offer the product to the market at a more competitive price than competitors ?

To these two basic competitive strategies, Michael Porter (in his “4 competitive strategies“) has added another variable: the choice of the range, how many customers compose your target? the entire market , a niche or even a niche within a niche?

To make you understand better, a few examples for the different competitive strategies :

Differentiation strategy (quality, entire market): Apple with its iPhones ;

Strategy of cost leadership (savings, entire market): Ikea;

Strategy of focusing on differentiation (quality, niche): Ferrari;

Strategy of focusing on cost leadership (savings, niche): (the begin) of McDonalds.

In fact there are those who say that the choice of a competitive advantage is not an important thing , and that, it consequently, it does not pay to be consistent.

Which is the best choice for a startup? You can’t answer this, the answer will vary from case to case, it is a very relative thing.

I believe that the future of our startup is a choice of competitive advantage – focusing on cost leadership (CLUE N.4), Tim thinks like me. The others don’t. And from here the fight. Unsolved.

Although there are those, like Instagram, who do not make a choice( before a certain determined time), and it’s successful.

It’s important not to stay in the middle of the road too long, because it is like being on one of those frail bridges in the Andes, suspended over a deep ravine, with the possibility to go from one part(quality) or the other (savings) .. but if you stay in the middle of the path too long, the ropes will be broken and the company goes bust.

And the same thing for Italy, a country that for history and capacity should strongly focus on quality, it is getting enchanted by the sirens of the low costs, and thus remains on the middle of the bridge, with the risk of falling.

While The Great C, at the foot of the ravine, waits. And every day there is, at least, one more victim.

6. We need a bit of madness to create a startup

diary of a crisis survivor astronaut madness

MARCH 09, 2014, h.19.00

DAY 22

It is said that Robert Smith, leader of The Cure, after writing his masterpiece  Friday I’m in love, couldn’t  believe that he had written such a perfect melody( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v mGgMZpGYiy8 = & feature = kp) .

He went from relatives to friends to ask if they had ever heard that melody, it was impossible that no one had thought of it before. The melody was so perfect  that even its creator could not comprehend what he had been able to compose .

 

The same thing happened with my startup.

Pigna and I have been dreaming of doing something great together for ages. When we were young we were in the front row at events and protest, when we grew up a little, we always had the desire to enter politics without ever finding a party that did the job.

Then we realized that we could only count on ourselves, and we had the desire to create a business, but the idea was always lacking.

Then startups were born.

Then came The Great C.

At first the area of infection seemed just closed up between the USA and England. Then came the turn of Europe.

And we all have in mind what has happened since the advent of The Great C in Greece today.

Unemployment, low wages and competitiveness. And so on.

 

But here we are left to try to survive The Great C and trying to do something great together.

Although used and abused, we have always enjoyed but never completely  understood, Steve Jobs’s phrase ” Stay Hungry , Stay Foolish.”

Until that rainy night.

During a Crazy Brainstorming sessionwhen Francis had also joined us(one of two of “I Nerd per caso” ),         I came up with the idea. Bring the idea that we wanted to create “physically”, on the worldwideweb(CLUE No.3).

A startup, in our opinion, to be one in a million. As Friday I’m in Love.

That ‘s what we, young Italians and the world, should do when we try to create a startup: act rationally with a bit of madness. That bit of insanity is what it takes to break the patterns. Patterns that we have created ourselves, try to simplify reality. But schemes in which we are continually brought to error by stereotypes , ignorance and anchors. So when you think of creating a startup it is essential to use proper programming of work and responsibility, but do not forget to dream a little, to travel with the mind to escape from our patterns .

 

Now you know why they call me the Astronaut.

5. Business Model in a time of crisis

MARCH 5, 2014, h.14:13

DAY 18

Yesterday was a good day. For me. For others,  I don’t know.

BUSINESS MODEL

In Eastern Europe the situation doesn’t seem to be good. How is it possible to risk this kind of escalation, in 2014? Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to sit down and discuss it?

On the one hand, Russia is right, because there are the inhabitants of the Crimea claiming a different country(and according to Wikipedia, since 1992 they have been actually been an autonomous republic within Ukraine); on the other hand , there are disproportionate economic interests. On February 19, 1954, Crimea was given by the Soviet leader Khrushchev to the Ukraine, but only since 1989, Russia (URSS no longer) could no longer benefit from the powerful harbour on the Black Sea. Consequently Russia is looking for a way to resume earning from that region.

Strange but true my startup has the same goal: to figure out how to earn.

In a few words, set the business model to implement the business idea: we’re talking about a myriad of variables to bind together with consistency, from the procurement of customers, purchasing real product / service , through the use of forms of sponsorship or B2B . Without this step, any startup is doomed.

We don’t want to work for glory nor charity.

In my short career as a consultant, I’ve heard of entrepreneurs with great business ideas but who are dying from the lack of an effective business model.

To create our model D, our designer, bought a board, one of those with n-sheets.

Since yesterday the magic board is in Nerd per Caso’s home(now it’s not a house anymore, because it has become our startup’s office), and so yesterday we started to design our business model to understand how we can monetize. Simply be able to explain with a drawing, a diagram or a table model, gave us the opportunity to reflect . It’ssomething that I highly recommend to aspiring startuppers like us.

For now, we still see a little darkness, most likely we will try to differentiate the forms of income(although it can be a risky move), but definitely a source of income will be made by Pay Per Click (CLUE No.2).

The point is that:

  • Italy is not Silicon Valley, the home of the successful startup, where the business model works (probably it’s also a matter of entrepreneurial culture and openness to change);
  • Silicon Valley has apparently found a way to fight and defeat the Great C, Italy on the other hand is still in the process of evaluating how to survive the Great C;

 

By the way, the need to monetize it is among the top reasons why you create a startup, so it is an important step that we face; infact only in this way we can continue to have big dreams with our startup( in spite of the Great C).

4. Angels don’t come here (neither do Investors)

February 28, 2014, h.18:51

DAY 13

diary of a crisis survivor team angels crisis

Friday night .

Finished work, but I’m still here .

I look forward to a routine call “confirmation ” to close everything .

I’ll have to deal with the traffic & the consequent boredom.

Then home and shower.

Relax?

No Relax . I’ll eat pasta, then we’ll have the chance, after afortnight , of meeting, all 8 members of our startup. The problem, that we are trying to solve , is not a small problem whatsoever.

We are thinking about where to find the money. I don’t like call it money, I prefer calling it the funds: all the resources you need to cover start-up costs and the implementation of the first evolutions.

Today was another day by Survivor, while the unemployment rate rose to 12.9 % (they say it’s the highest, but I have not figured out whether since 1990 or since 1977 ), and people still complain. Surely in Italy the Great C is one of those variables that helps to increase the difficulty of raising funds with a too high taxation too high and with a government that in recent years has done nothing. And for these reasons and others, Investors don’t come here. I understand them. But we need them: foreign investors.

 

Let’s step back . Essentially, in the research of funds, the first thing to do is to “see what funds you can get your hands on.

You, your team, your parents and the parents of the members of your team, and even friends, yours and your team’s.

Usually, as in our case, you can’t hardly ever raise the money required.

Because we have to face a series of tasks that increases more and more : the constitution of the company, advertising and marketing, taxes , servers & domains, production of the product. In our case (CLUE No. 1) do not have to face costs of physical production of the products, nor rent rooms(we use the house of “I Nerd per caso”), because our startup is linked to the web.

Consequently, if you find yourself in our situation, fortunately, there are still many doors to knock on.

During a crazy brainstorming, 15 days ago, we named among others:

– Incubators;

– Find someone foolish ( and hungry ) , with lots of money , who is willing to invest in us ;

– Venture Capitalists;

Angels.

Another big problem , which comes from the previous consideration is, “are you willing to give up some of your shares in the company to give them to someone definitely bigger and more powerful?” Some of our team say that this is a bit like selling out, or sell off the idea, however, I believe that it is at least a solution to evaluate.

 

Finally came the phone call. I can leave this place .

Here in Italy, an ordinary person can’t think about new projects, future ideas or new business developments in the markets. They think only about the present, to survive the Great C in this present. For this reason, we are trying to come into contact with foreign investors: Venture Capitalist, Foolish or Angels, it’s the same thing.

 

Then I remember one thing.

Angels don’t come here.

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