Diary of an Economic Crisis Survivor

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

Tag: Italy

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

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

28. Survival Tips for Italy and Startup n.1: Optimization

December 14, 2014, HOURS 17:58
DAY 302

diary of a crisis survivor italy human captail dissipated

“Italy, dissipated Human Capital”

These are the results of the 48th report of the Censis about the Italian situation What prevails now is the uncertainty.
We, startuppers, know something about it. And for us, the choice doesn’t exist. We only can think positive: although the situation is critical, we don’t want help The Great C.

The supplies are finished.
The ideas are finished.
The capital is finished.
Soon we will be forced to leave our shelter.
Sincerely we are undecided if to leave Italy to escape The Great C. At least for a period.
And then I don’t know. Will we never return? This country has a big potential and a great appeal, but is necessary another big effort.

Otherwise we will be forced, as always, to find the resources to live every month, but then, we will always look for new ones, therefore risking of not being able to survive .It is a dog that is chasing its tail. Uncertainty and Fear.

So in this ugly weather Sunday, the only thing we have left to do is optimize. Optimize as finding the right trade-off between profitability, growth and most of all costs (in terms of resources, time and money).

The research of the optimization of resources, time and money,  must necessarily pass for startups that are arising in this moment, because, as the newspaper La Repubblica said, “young people are the biggest waste of Italy.”

Is necessary stop wasting and start optimizing.
To accomplish this work, we started from an analysis of costs, assets and processes of our startup, Victoria. Now we will try to cross this analysis with the tests carried out in recent months and with our planned strategies.

I want close this post, with a sentence of Paolo Iacci, that I randomly found on one of those books that I define “The Crisis survival Guide” (“The theorem of Coffee – Guerini Next – 2014”):

We must do more and better with less.
Fewer resources, less money, fewer people.
But we must ensure more motivation, more expertise more effectiveness.
We have to find a new glue, cultural and social, to overcome this exasperated individualism.
We have to find the organizational possibilities for it to develop in an orderly and effective the creativity of which we boast rightly.

diary of a crisis survivor 28 creativity

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

24. Startup & Innovation: a relationship not always sincere

October 20, 2014, HOURS 21:30
DAY 247

Be innovative.
Everyone is innovative. But really no one is innovative.
For me, innovation is only “any change that will lead to an improvement.”
Everything else is wrong.

diary of a crisis survivor innovation & startup 2

After the creation of our company we are proceeding with the request for entry in the category of the innovative startup (established by the government of the European general Mario Monti).

This is a particular category of companies, unlisted, and based  in the country destroyed by The Great C: Italy.

(CLUE No. 7) Given that we satisfy seven requirements to access (including never having distributed gains, investment in R & D, have as object “the development / production of services/products with high technological value “), in the future the benefits could be different and relevant:

  1. Less bureaucracy for the business (in Italy it is a big step!);
  2. Tax Incentives for Startups;
  3. Tax incentives for those who invest in startups (in Italy is rare);
  4. Flexible use of working contracts;
  5. Possibility of access to Crowdfunding.

We’re waiting for the verdict from the Ministry.
The things is gonna be serious.
Finally.
Startup & Innovation, a relationship not always true.

diary of a crisis survivor innovation & startup

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

22. 10 behavioral tips to survive the Great C

September 22, 2014, HOURS 22:00

DAY 219

This is another Monday of survival.

As expected, The Great C didn’t stop its advance, and Italy, despite the proclamations of the Premier Renzi, continues with false starts.
This story about Victory, my startup, has been created to try to make partakers about the incredible difficulty in setting up a business in Italy, not only the aspiring startuppers, , but also  the people who need to be encouraged. The moment is difficult for everyone.
So today I decided to play down and give you 10  behavioral tips that can help you to survive the Great C:

1) Be Watchful: 
Either because the opportunities are often before our eyes and we don’t realize them, or because  in this country, it’s always better to be careful,  you don’t know if someone will steal your business idea;

diary of a crisis survivor stay watchful

2) Be Positive:
No matter if you can’t improve the results of your business, no matter if you’re in trouble.
Tomorrow is a new day, and in an indefinite future Italy will have to get up and, to do so, will have to implement the reforms pro work, business and startup. Like your startup.

diary of a crisis survivor be positive

 

3) Stay Hungry …:
In Steve Jobs’ words  you have to be hungry: don’t get into the spiral of negativity that reigns in the streets of Italian cities, but always look for new challenges, new business adventures.

diary of a crisis survivor stay hungry

4) … Stay Foolish:
And it’s true. Only those who risk, achieve the results. As I said call me the Astronaut, for my ability to roam with the thinking and strategies in a concrete way.

diary of a crisis survivor astronaut madness

5) Be Maniac:
organizing your time, your work,  and constantly control the feedbacks and results.
You must  try always to find a way to objectively measure your results.
If you do it, your startup will be constantly improved and will be closer to defeat the Great C.

diary of a crisis survivor be maniac

6) Surround yourself with the right team:
And be available for them, so that they will solve your problems when you can’t do it and together, when you’ll be properly setup, you will form a winning team.

diary of a crisis survivor teamwork

7) Be Humble:
You are always head-on, but being in a country for old men, keep in mind that you don’t  hold the whip by the hand:
for this reason, and because “humility makes a great man” keep a low profile until the right moment.

diary of a crisis survivor be humble

8) Be Patient:
..wait for the right time. Italy will not start for at least another year. Until then try to stay on the crest of the wave, float and survive with your startup, but never stop trying.

diario-di-un-sopravvissuto-alla-crisis-startup-strategia-differenziazione-bassi-costi

9) Be curious:
Keep reading, testing, experimenting. In 2014 you have to be able to know how to create a website, managing a social network, but also you need to understand why your startup doesn’t  achieve the desired results …. and don’t forget to look at successful models abroad and try to apply them in your reality.

diary of a crisis survivor be curious

10) “Be Ready..
Because You don’t know when the right moment will arrive “you don’t know the moment when the Great C will knock at your door.
And in that moment, you have to know how to save your startup.

diary of a crisis survivor be ready

%d bloggers like this: