Diary of an Economic Crisis Survivor

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

Tag: Great C

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.

7. Plan to Survive

APRIL 28, 2014, h.19:26

DAY 72

Tomorrow we go on a mission.

I’ll go out there and I’ll be alone, disoriented and frightened: I expect a major test for my career .

diario-di-un-sopravvissuto-alla-crisi-startup-team-programmazione-crisis-survivor-performance-strategia

Tomorrow I’ll find out if I’m really good at work or if mine were just words.

In short . While Italy dreams of defeating once and for all the Great C, guided by the strategies of the new commander Renzi, I ‘ll be engaged in a “boss morning”. This practice, that maybe exists only in  the consultant company where I work, consists in the evaluation of the employees by specific tests, presentations and achievements, all in the same morning.

There are 3 of us. The best gets to move to a higher category. And then also an increase. And then even more money.                     And then even more funds for my startup .

This career move could mean a lot for me. To face the test, I started to prepare myself six months ago. And the most important thing I’ve done during this time was to plan what I needed to do. Seriously it was not easy to reconcile work (Priority 1), my startup(Priority 2) and the test (Priority 3). Even the Italian government has scheduled its performance, strategically placing a reform per month.

The plan was also done for my startup of course:

Putting in order tasks to accomplish, establishing priorities for action, but also setting deadlines and milestones (and respecting them) and dividing responsibilities. Tim, our handyman, is a valuable element in the economy of the plan of our startup ,because he performs many actions, only that, if he didn’t have a battle plan, he wouldn’t survive. Thus, the plan of the performance of a startup turns out to be another important element in the creation of the same.

Because planning, and then knowing what we face everyday, makes us ready and stronger.

It makes us believe to be able to survive the Great C, in this country where merit has lost life and people smile little, we young startuppers:

keep calm,

believe in ourselves,

and don’t give up.

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.

3. The Importance of being a Team

FEBRUARY 25, 2014, h.13:53

DAY 10

dIARY OF A CRISIS SURVIVOR team work

Today I risked. I risked my life in the survival of the Great C.

In a figurative sense, yes. But if it was not for Timothy, would I be here having to work overtime to pay a high tax collection box(which is not correct). 30 years. In Italy.

Luckily I have a group of people to rely on.

I do not know . Maybe in my case the 10 years spent playing basketball, and the subsequent mentality that I have “acquired”: the result of the team is more important than the result of the individual.

Italy , and our young people have forgotten what it means, or rather, we have forgotten this sentence .

At apolitical level, as in the rest of the world, we are tied to a prominent leader (see Berlusconi and Renzi), and not the party and the ideas that embodies them. Moreover, we are so anchored to the idea of ​​Right & Left , which we did not realize how the content of these have become interchangeable.

In Italy in 2014, the things to do are really under the eyes of everyone.

 

Our government will succeed? Only if it manages to work like a team, forgetting hostile strategies and pre-determined negativity for each proposal, being optimistic and aware that we can defeat the Great C.

 

Sharing & Helping .

But even planning, dividing the tasks and responsibilities, establishing and respecting the Deadline.

As you know, when I’m not too busy actively surviving Great C and working, I carry on a business project .

I don’t want to talk about the idea(I’m too scared of being copied and replicated faster than I can develop my own idea ), but as I said earlier, I will tell you steps and essential elements of my career as an aspiring startupper. And maybe, sometimes, I will provide you some clues.

 

Today I am talking about the importance of being a team.

The right balance .

My team consists of 8 people.

Originally we were :

– Romina, called Pigna, not because she looks like one of those things that are on the trees, nor that she’s a drug user, but just because she’s a very fussy person, and not surprisingly she takes deals with the legal, accounting and tax things;

– Francesco, the first developer, who with David (arrived later),we have sadly nicknamed “I Nerd per caso”(in Italy exists a musical group called “I Neri per caso”), our geeks .;

– Vittorio(Victor if you prefere), the undersigned, the managerial figure of the group, called the Astronaut. This will be explained it later.

Then there are added in order :

– Luca, our Marketing Manager, called the Thinker;

– Sofia, the designer, simply D;

– Enrico, the Sales Manager, the man who would be able to sell an Ipad to my grandmother(who died), called The Wolf(references to recent Scorsese film are not random ) ;

– And finally , last but not least, Timothy, called Tim, the all-rounder.

 

Our skills and capabilities are blended with each other , fortunately , and I repeat , fortunately, we have very different ideas among us and we often fight. Which is good .. if we had not had the verve to fight that night, this idea would never have been born (we might have had trouble even if we had not bought the n(which stands for n-number unquantifiable) beers).

 

It’s this desire to ” succeed together “, that will make the difference.

In good times and bad , such as in a marriage. Also because we are aware that from the organizational point of view, for now, we are able to cover any position needed to create a start-up. A recipe created with a good dose of Devolpers , Lawyers & Economists, Advertisers & Dealers, and the right touch of madness (and also on this we will be back) .

 

But back to this morning .

I was at work without the possibility of moving, wrapped between one meeting and another.

Today a Deadline. And I forget to respect it. Submit the application for appeal.

Moments of sheer panic. Then, I managed to think: Timothy. It was enough to give him a call. He perfectly knew perfectly what to do and he did it .

I am safe. At least for now. At least today.

And all thanks to Tim, who in reality is not even called that. But simply embodies so well the idea of ​​team that we couldn’t not nickname him so, Tim( giving credit to the stereotype that we young Italians do not know English—In Italy the pronunciation of Team is the same of Tim). In any case, Tim is in charge of operational aspects(perhaps because is the only unemployed person in the group), with a very Calcuttian availability.

 

Back to work, I used my break to write, this time, outdoors, in a city park, one of those oases(safety points), within this city, scared like many others, from The Great C.

 

dIARY OF A CRISIS SURVIVOR naming

2. Be Positive to be Ready

FEBRUARY 20, 2014, h.21:45

DAY 5

Immagine

Another nightmare day.

Wrapped between one job and another, between one order and another, between one shout and another (from my boss).

I’m feeling it. My attitudes and my talents can’t grow and can’t be expressed here. I have had little time to think about my startup project, just a few hours. But I realized that when the fire is burning, it is very hard to blows it out. It’s like the Jovanotti’s song that I heard yesterday morning, while I was going to work, in the hideout of the wolf:

“Io penso positivo, perchè son vivo, perché sono vivo, niente e nessuno al mondo potrà fermarmi dal ragionare, niente e nessuno al mondo potrà fermare, fermare, fermare, fermare..quest’onda che va, quest’onda che viene e che va” (..in few words…”I think positive, because I’m alive”, if you want you can translate the rest of the text).

I don’t know what’s happening. It’s hard just imagining the reasons for this sickness, that has damaged the world of work and us, the brave young men that have decided to stay in Italy, in the period of the advent of the Great C.

Maybe, in 100 years, in history books, rather in history-ebooks, there will be this emigration of young men. Maybe we will study it, like now we study the Italian emigration in the first decade of ‘900(and maybe, in 100 years, there will be a country, where a lot of families have an Italian surname, like Argentina or Uruguay now).

My opinion is that, among all of the causes of this problem, we can find:

  1. The lacking motivation/will/desire of young Italian men between 20 and 35;
  2. The generation that governs Italy doesn’t give attention to us.

Also Renzi’s generation, finds huge difficulty in achieving to help the country: Maybe..is also this generation too old to create innovative and brilliant ideas? Is this generation too full of old patterns that doesn’t realize that the Italian Titanic is sinking?

However, presently, I have faith in the youngest premier of Europe. Stop talking about politics.

The generation in charge, or simply the citizens, haven’t the time(and the “space”) to listen to their creative genius…imagine if they have the time for our ideas:

–>they are too stressed to bring home the bread for the family,

–>they are too stressed to fill the hunger of the tax authorities,

–>they are too stressed to survive the Great C.

How many suicides in Italy from the advent of the Great C?

No one has listened to the prayers of these citizens in pain.

Young Italian men don’t have motivation. You must to search the young Italian men that realize their work dream, starting from the fact that most don’t dream anymore. I have my dream. In my hearth, and in my drawer(does this expression also exist in England?).

In my life the number of  failures is bigger than the number of successes(sometimes when I’m sad I try to remember what a roman friend said to me in the past about failures:“Vittò, questi quando te fanno un colloquio de lavoro, non te chiedono Ahò ma quanto sei bravo…ma te chiedono quante volte hai fallito nella tu vita? se hai pochi fallimenti sei una merda.” Substantially some American managers, during a job interview, appreciate if you have had more failures than successes).

But this time no, we can’t fail…my team and I.

Because we’re motivated, and we have the will to survive.

Without the right motivation your startup can’t go anywhere.

I repeat: will. Like don’t give up in front of the complications, like most of startuppers do.

Even if there are who give up the first time that they explain their entrepreneurial idea: when they realize that this idea is very, very awful.

Everyday my team and I search solutions in our whatsapp group. The threats aren’t missing, like hard moments, when there isn’t nothing to light up the way.

But we’re motivated. We have love and bravery.

And we want to continue, insist, at least try.

We want to be a lot, staying together, doing networking and sharing.

We want to be the exception from the rule.

We want to be pioneer in a sick country.

We want them to come to us to ask where we have found the resources and the forces.

We want to survive the Great C, and we want to do it with success.

%d bloggers like this: