Diary of an Economic Crisis Survivor

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

Tag: zombie

15. Do you know what is the ideal customer of your Startup?

JULY 7, 2014, HOURS 16:54

DAY 142

dIARY OF A CRISIS SURVIVOR target customer

How hard it create a startup in Italy in 2014? 

It’s for this reason that from four months, I tell about the story of my startupVictory (its name), but basically I tell about the condition of young people in Italyin 2014. Tale of those young people who want to do and who daily tryto survive The Great C:tale of those young people who, driven by enthusiasm and passion, have a business idea and want to concretize it.

While many startups and businesses are dying, Victorycarries on, and the last steps that we have made was to identify the target toward which we address: identify the ideal customer of our services, our target.

This kind of activity(not a simple activity but a complex process),  actually it isn’t done by most of the companies,becasuse they tend to have the fear of reducing its p0ssibility of business in the face of a bid to one specific category.

In reality this is not soin fact, the target can be detected in a more or less schematic processIn short, a complex analysis.
But why is fundamental identify a predefined targetIt’s a necessary step for each type of startup for several reasonsthe most important are probably

  1. Identification of pricing policies
  2. Identifying the type of communication;
  3. Locating the process of purchase by the consumer.

An essential step for every startups

Victoria knows its target, and you?

14. Startup’s Naming Process: the first key to success

JULY 2, 2014, HOURS 14:33

DAY 137

dIARY OF A CRISIS SURVIVOR naming

Victory.

Finally our startup has a name.

Of course, this is not the “real name”, but a name chosen for this blog. From now on, I won’t have to say “my startup” but simply Victory. Obviously, this name isn’t complete because there will be a code name (combined with the type of company chosen), but that’s another story.

Meanwhile, on the streets of my city, my Gotham City, there is someone who is talking about people who are managing to fight and defeat the Great C, confused and distant stories, about heroes from a far away Italy of today; heroes who persevered in the crisis and took the opportunity to become big. Enthusiastic examples of partisans whose weren’t adversely affected their pride and dignity by The Great C.

I don’t know…maybe it’s this slight breeze of enthusiasm that gave inspiration to the team and in particular to D, our designers, to find a name for our startup. So that week-long process is over. D made ​​us work with a methodology called inductive: we found the name after carefully studying the very identity of the type of service that we offer. So we analyzed the identified consumer target, finding the best trade-off between these two elements and our goals. From that moment on, it was fun to identify a possible logo (although that’s another story).

So…Naming process as an essential step for the presentation on the market(which took place a few days ago with our beta version https://diaryofacrisissurvivor.com/2014/06/24/test-to-start-your-startup/). The name is our first business card, even before the Internet site. In fact the name of a startup is the first element that can arouse or not a reaction among the people.

Same concept for the name that I have chosen for you, for this blog and for this post. It has to inspire and “garra” (the South American). So I decided to call my startup in this way.

Victory.

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).

11. In Italy, today, or you create a Startup or you die

June 3, 2014, HOURS 17:12

DAY 108

*“Our mother has been absent, ever since we founded Rome. But there ‘s going to be a party, When the wolf(or the Great C) comes home “.

Mood of a Startup. and of startuppers . Today we feel so.

Completely abandoned by those who should have created a better country for their children and their grandchildren. The business world and the political class. The Great C. When it comes home, we’ll have a big party. That ‘s for sure. Because it would mean that today we couldn’t leave the country and be successful with our startup.

This is not a cry for help but a post of complaint. To remind all young Italian startuppers that we are few, but we can do it. Technically speaking, compared to other generations, we have the best tool to overcome these difficulties: the network. Internet has given us the best way to share and, for our startup, led us to share experiences with another startup, resulting in a strategic partnership with the specific aim of facing the market together, satisfying two types of different but complementary needs .

How important is sharing in 2014? Fundamental. Because if we get together and share experiences, ideas and mistakes , maybe we can do it.

There is only one alternative, leave the country killing our startups .

I have been stalked by The Great C since I left my job. I have become, less than 1 month, a self-employed with a handful of customers in his pocket, a few euros of income, and an entrepreneurial project in my heart. And I’m seriously thinking of leaving everything and changing country.

It ‘s my team that tries to motivate me in these days of darkness, reminding me every day what we’ve been through, the difficulties that we have overcome together, and above all that we have shared. For these reasons, if I want to stay in Italy and survive the Great C, the only solution is my startup .

And therefore, in Italy, today, “or you create a Startup or you die.”

diario-di-un-sopravvissuto-alla-crisi-startup

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.

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.

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