Diary of an Economic Crisis Survivor

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

Tag: entrepreneurship

33. One year of survival against the Great C, looking for the Critical Mass

February 15, 2015, HOURS 16:30
YEAR II, DAY 1.

Diary of a crisis survivor 33

It has been exactly a year.
One year surviving The Great Economic Crisis.
One year of Victory, our startup.
A year made of ups and downs, of right decisions and others wrong, success, tests and escape from Italy.

We think we are still in the Test phase, however we believe it is time to start thinking about another goal, which could allow us to find the best way to survive The Great C.

Now our goal is to be able to create critical mass: a sufficient number of customers that can allow to attract others customers only because of the number of feedbacks, interactions, or other actions you’ve managed to develop. That number could allow you to grow exponentially, to be able to do significant tests about your users, and that allows you, above all, to get closer to your definitive business model.

The next step will be to be able to achieve an important trade-off between: the number of users (our critical mass), and reducing the cost of creating the product / service.
And this would be hard task.

Because at that time, the eyes of Investors may seek Victoria.

Here we are. Where are you, customers? Where are the people who want to change the world with us? The time to find you has come.

But the time has come also to put together marketing campaigns, looking for the Critical Mass.
And it is now time to put up and start running, looking for The Great C.
Because the time has come, after a whole year, to fight the final battle against The Great C.

Diary of a crisis survivor 33 critical mass

32. Fighting the organizational chaos

FEBRUARY 3, HOURS 14:39
DAY 353

diary of a crisis survivor  Gantt & disorder

Disorder.
This is a disordered world.
And The Great C increased the level of chaos.

In particular in Italy, where it is better find a job to survive rather than be brave and try to create your own business.
Even for this reason, losing pieces along the way, we had to escape from Italy. Probably, however, the discussion is valid in any country in the world: no one gives you anything, and you have to be able to find the right trade-off and choose the best team for the next match, depending on the day.

We planned, we optimized, we tested, but despite all, the Great C found us and knocked on our door.
We need something more simple, but at the same time something more concrete: something that can help us understand where we are, how we got here, and which is direction to take.

So while in Italy we continue to talk about the new Head of the Republic, continuing to ignore the problems of the population, we have adopted a tool that will allow us to understand where we are, what we lack, what are the Milestones, which activities to make: we have adopted a control system with a simple, effective and shared Gantt.

 

It will be helpful? I don’t t know but I hope so.
At least something we can understand.

Maybe we will understand that we are just 5 stupids: this business plan was not to be realized, but we fell in love too much with the idea to deny the evidence.

Maybe we will understand, as the past other team members understood, that we shouldn’t leave Italy, but simply settle for a job.

Maybe instead we will understand that everything we did, was part of a long journey, that brings you constantly to face unpleasant choices (without knowing if the choice was right or wrong).

Maybe we will understand what the way to come home is.

diary of a crisis survivor  Gantt

31. The Gateway

January 23, 2015, HOURS 19:47
DAY 342

diary of a crisis survivor dynamic environment

Caught.
The Great C found us.
Despite our efforts to optimize resources and reduce costs, our budget forecasts resulted worse than expected. Both capital and especially resources. We can’t afford to buy new services, but we need them.
Therefore, while Italian politicians continue to not care about what happens outside the “Important Halls” talking and pretending to quarrel about the Electoral Law and about the new Head of Italian Republic, the Great C kindly knocked on our door and forced us to do the only thing we could do:

leave Italy (CLUE Ranked # 9).

After the initial panic, we used the plan B (you must always have a Plan B)and we found a place to stay, a dynamic environment, where we can take advantage of the large number of personalities and professionals to  grow.

It is an essential thing: working in a dynamic environment where you can learn and share. In Italy we could not find it: I think in Italy we have lost that sense of “social aggregation” replacing it with an uncontrolled individualism” (perhaps for pure spirit of survival?).

The really negative side is that we are losing pieces. Here we are just 5: Pigna (the CFO), the “Nerd per caso” (two developers), D (our designer) and me. Luca & The Wolf just gave up: they will remain in Italy, change profession, adapt to the system and they will find a random job(no offense to those who have a random job, but these guys had dreams).

We searched a new start.
And until the Great C will fail to find us, we will work here.
But in Italy will be back soon (I hope as winners).

dynamic environment

30. A safe place

January 13, 2015, HOURS 19:00
DAY  332

diary of a crisis survivor 30 patent

Security.
Today I start from here.
From the need to escape the clutches of the Great C in a precise way.

In fact, our friend, the Great Economic Crisis tries in various ways to be able to win.
We have been ticked off that someone has copied our brand.
But we’re smarter. We recorded it all months ago.
At that time they thought we were crazy: spend money, time and energy on something that you don’t know if you can achieve … but the intellectual property of our brand is protected … and now who copied must change.

The legislation on patents and trademarks may not be. But after a long process we are protected.

I had decided not to talk about it before because I didn’t feel the need: now instead choosing to register at the Chamber of Commerce logo of Victory, our startup, has proved successful.

And the Great C, this time either, failed to get us.
(But, in a few time, It will achieve its goal).

The moment of the getaway is come.

diary of a crisis survivor 30 trademark

29. Please Santa bring me a Crowdfunding for Christmas

DECEMBER 22, 2014, HOURS 14:43
DAY 310

diary of a crisis survivor 29 crowdfunding

“Dear Santa, as you know my name is Victor, I’m 30 years old and I live in Italy.
In September, I create my own startup, with my teammates, some of which unfortunately had to leave Italy.
I went around the desolate streets of my city, a city, as many other Italian cities, devastated by The Great C, and  I thought and thought … well as a gift this year I would love to receive a Crowdfunding for us.
But if in your sled there is no space, you can take what you want, at least a little bit of enthusiasm.
This year, like the last, I will be here to resist and fight The Great C.
Thanks Santa, I can’t wait to see you. “

The 83% of Italian companies are small and medium enterprises. Since the advent of The Great C, these companies have had increasing difficulty in finding the funding they need to not give up.
Not recently, I heard about Crowdfunding, or collective funding for those who are new to the subject, and I discovered two important things:

There are five ways to make crowdfunding:

    1. Donation-based (e. based on the donation and no economic return);
    2. Peer to peer;
    3. Peer-to-Business;
    4. Invoice Trading;
    5. Equity Based (based on risk capital)
  1. The size of the Crowdfunding in Italy is virtually zero, this because:
    1. There are few platforms to do it(as Unicaseed and Starsup);
    2. You must be an Innovative Startup (Startup and Innovation: a relationship not always sincere);
    3. The “donors”, who wanted to invest a significant amount of capital, need the guarantee of a bank.

crowdfunding

In conclusion. In Italy, Corwfunding seems not an easy tool to use.
We’ll try, but as I said in the last post we finished supplies and capital, The Great C is besieging us, our startup fails to get success and we are thinking of abandoning Italy: this is the reason why I asked Santa a little bit of Crowdfunding for us.

We hope that the light of Christmas would bring hope.

Merry Christmas Survivors. Hold on.

doacs 29 crowdfunding

27. Don’t be afraid about The Great C, use it.

NOVEMBER 24, 2014, HOURS 13:31
DAY 282

diary of a crisis survivor 27 use the great c

Finds.
Finds of men who, in other times, fought and defeated the Great C.
I wrote the text of the find in the large blackboard of our office, now all team members of Victory, our startup, can read it. I will write it here, so that you can begin to see the light, in this dark period.
I don’t know if the “crisis” of the author is  our Great C. I just know that these are dark times, we don’t give up and we will use The Great C.
 

“Do not pretend that things will change if we always do the same.
The crisis is the best blessing that can happen to people and countries, because the crisis brings progress.
Creativity is born from the distress, as the day is born from the dark night.
It is in crisis that invention, discovery and large strategies are born.
Who ever overcomes crisis, outdoes himself without being overcome.
Who attributes their failures to the crisis and neglects, violent his own talent and gives most respect to the problems rather than solutions.The real crisis is the crisis of incompetence.
The drawback of people and countries is laziness to find solutions to their problems.
Without crisis there are no challenges, without challenges life is a routine, a slow agony. 
Without crisis there is no merit.
It is in the crisis where the best of each other rise up, without crises any wind is caress. Talk of crisis is to promote it, and silent in the crisis is to exalt conformity.
Instead of that, work hard.
Get it over with the only crises threatening, that is the tragedy of not wanting to fight for it.
He was Albert Einstein.
I’m Vittorio.
And I will use the Great C like an opportunity.

diary of a crisis surviror 27 einstein

25. Looking for the Early Adopters

NOVEMBER 3, 2014, HOURS 15:19
DAY 261

diary of a crisis survivor early adopt

Clashes in the streets.
Protests.
Italians don’t  know what to do to fight The Great C.
Italy is a country in crisis that, with difficulty, is looking for the right way to start, the right way to exploit its potential and the right way to not waste the opportunities.
I don’t agree with the “political” protests: people should, in a virtual “square”, meet other people to find solutions, not just complain.

Even our startup, Victoria, has its major problems.
The market doesn’t seem to have understood our offer, or perhaps we are not good enough in terms of trade, we need to check  our strategies.
Maybe I know where is the mistake: we have not correctly identified our ideal customer like we said(Do you know what is the ideal customer of your startup?). Maybe the identified target is too large and the analysis carried out hasn’t gone deep.

We have been afraid to point to an “audience” too small and we have set a strategy unsuitable for product policies, communication and maybe even prices strategies.

I figure that it is much easier to start from a small part of customers, to be loved to madness by these few (but good) clients, and later try to differentiate the offerings to be loved by other part of customersrather than be appreciated in a discrete manner by offering a service to a larger part of customers and in a second moment try to be truly loved by them.

We are looking for our early adopters. Those fools who are willing to stand with us in our battles against the Great  C.
Virtual “square” or not we are here, with Victory, to wait for somebody that, like us, is looking for the the right way to re-start.

early adopters diary of a crisis survivor

23. Fall in love with your Startup(but not too much)

30 SEPTEMBER, 2014, HOURS 15:21
DAY 227

Survivors.
Also this week, even today.

survivors diary of a crisis survivor

 

Saved by the bell.
The Great C was about to crush us like a flooding river, in a  rainy day.
In this rainy day, when the world seems to ignore the condition of a country which is wasting its assets and its “best youth“, we were about to make a wrong choice.
One of those choices that can make you fall.
And just because we were too in love with our business idea.

I don’t know the mistake that we made​​: I don’t really know.
Arrogance?
Carelessness?
Basically we were going to make a strategic choice that would have meant that our product couldn’t be used in easy way by our potential customers. We’re talking about small sliding doors that will change your life. And in our case, Victory would lose a lot of users: the only reason is that the use wouldn’t have been quite as intuitive, we hope it will be.

sliding doors diary of a crisis survivor

We became aware of the problem only through a “friend tester” that just asked us: “Why would I do such a thing?”.

It was not easy to make sure that the entire team was aware of the mistake. Including myself. We were too much in love with the initial setup.
It’s easier to change than stay in love with your business idea: the change is inevitable, so you have to predict it, control it and adapt to it.

Maybe we, young Italian startuppers,  will have to learn  something from the word of Eric Ries  in his “The Lean Startup“: “A startup is a human institution, created to give life to a new product, in conditions of extreme uncertainty“, and just because we are in this situation of extreme uncertainty, we need to be aware that the products / services created is such an experiments.  For this reason this product should be designed in a precise methodological synthesis of Creation -> Measurement -> Learning. Eric Ries docet.

the lean startup diary of a crisis survivor

Making mistakes is not wrong .. just be humble and brave to solve the problem on time:
Do not fall in love too much with your Startup. Make sure that your customers fall in love with her.

mistakes diary of a crisis survivor

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

17. One way ticket to hell

July 22, 2014, HOURS 13:52

DAY 157

dIARY OF A CRISIS SURVIVOR BUSINESS PLAN

Tim has gone.

The Great C has won: it took him.

Northern Ireland, one-way ticket. A well-paid job and the opportunity to grow professionally.

An opportunity that you can’t waste. In Italy. In 2014.

We have lost our all-rounder. Victory, our startup, has lost an important part of its team, that, like many other young italian people, was forced to leave the country.

And now?

We continue planning, and today we began to draw up the business plan.

I read  percentages: on average only 27% of the entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized enterprises have created ​​a business plan (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/61220876159478523/).

Perhaps it’s caused by their lack of entrepreneurial culture, or simply luckily they were so good that they don’t need to do it.

In fact, the motivations to create a Business Plan are different:

1 – Put in writing business ideas: this allows the entrepreneur to “grow”, identifying the problem (if supported by the right consultants), make certain remedial actions, and set the appropriate strategies;

2 – Look for Investors;

3 – Participate in Startup Competition / Calls for Startup (and here comes into play the Pitch).

 

Consequently, the shape of a Business Plan should depend on the goal: it must be communicatively effective according to the needs. Last but not least, the structure of the Business Plan: about this point I will talk about it in another post, now I have to leave the blog. I have a skype-call with a multinational company based in Germany.

Yes, it is, The Great C is trying to take me too, and bring me out of Italy.

Will it make it?

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