Diary of an Economic Crisis Survivor

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

Tag: STRATEGY

13. Test to start your Startup

June 24, 2014, HOURS 12:21

DAY 129

diary of a crisis survivor
Here we are.

Our beta version is ready. (CLUE n. 5).

Although things aren’t going well, we go public testing our service (obviously not here, not in this blog).

The streets of my city are desolate. A city like so many others, and like all these other, was hit hard by the Great C, which created recession, unemployment and depression.

You know my story, and you know how, with my startup, I’m daily trying to fight The Great C. The first step was to create a team, and now, we’re launching our beta version of the site.
Because for a startup is fundamental:
1) check the appeal of your product / service;
2) create a critical mass that can act as a springboard for the project.

As can be convinced (or love) of our business idea, unfortunately, the response of the market is always different from the initial expectations, and start a test phase will enable us to understand where the process of buying is gonna blocked and where we go wrong. If we are unable to successfully pass this test phase, creating a sufficient critical mass, we will be able to throw in a total market.

I would say, first of all, in a startup, as in the life, it is necessary to risk: if the test will be positive, we can think of detonate the bomb … and then, I think that the Great C wouldn’t be able to resist.

We see the light, we know the way: now is our turn to survive…and risk.

(We don’t know what we can achieve unless we try).

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).

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