Diary of an Economic Crisis Survivor

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

Tag: Italia

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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