Startup building for dummies, based on a true story – part ONE: italiansonline.net

It took a bit more than 42 years…after being the initiator, the catalyst, or simply a co-founder of 5 startups, in different domains and in different contexts… 42 years to start understanding how build a new venture looks like, and the role I am best at playing.
This actually gives me the opportunity to share what I believe is a good mix of talent and skills that you need to have, if you want to set up your venture for success.
This is a personal story. And an experiment.
It’s a journey into my vision of entrepreneurship. My journey.

In 2003, before Facebook came out as a more-than-for-students platform, before the expression “social networks” became as used as any other software related terms, together with 3 other friends, we founded www.italiansonline.net
Great idea. THE network for Italian expatriates. Virally grown, huge media exposure, from one location (Paris) to 30 in less than 6 months, now 120000 Italians in some 80 locations (but many more countries) have joined, thousands of events, small ads, blogs, pictures … All very exciting, energizing, even noble, certainly useful …., but not a business. It became an not for profit venture, now crowd managed, producing enough revenue to self-sustain. Still active, and growing, but at its own pace.
Lessons learned: you might have a good idea and execute well. But in order to make it grow you need to put full time attention and dedication to it, and if you can’t, partner with someone you trust who can. Let him run the venture, give him a good share of the company. The one who risks more, should have more, even if that means more than yourself, inventor.
If your idea is good, it will stay stick. The gap between make a business out of it or simply a good service the glory of what will be your sole reward, depends from the focus you will grant to it.

Italiansonline.net had everything to become a good business, in the most noble sense of it. Timing of founders life was not the right one to abandon everything for it, and we didn’t find (or look for) the right partner.
Still, in it’s almost 10 years of existence, it helped plenty of Italians to find job, house, fun, company, love, support, and in this sense it filled (and still does) the purpose.
Personally, it made never ending friendship and relationships all over the world, and when I had time I mingled with the local communities during my trips. It happened in more than 20 countries already, and just for this that was worth the journey.

It gave me also the hint to my second idea, that will be the topic of my next blog: www.swiftcommunity.net

But this is another story, and more lessons…

Stay tuned

Matteo

Your fragility is your ultimate power

I had a chat with one of my volleyball mates, yesterday evening, after a very cool match with my team.
I know him for 7 months now, never really had a proper conversation. When you grow old(er), you don t often dare to share more than akin deep stuff with people who cannot put things in context because they know you well already.
Somehow we both did, for a couple of drinks, and on my way back home I wrote a “passion for kindness” sentence in a self-mail, because I wanted to talk about this.
We (I) spend a lot of time showing self assurance, power, unconditioned richness of resources (not financial, but emotional) and at the end, your true self stays behind.
Your fragility is actually your true force, but you don’t share it unless you feel is welcomed, “apprivoisee” ( you guys find a French-English dictionary now) because it puts you at risk.
Well, I tasted that risk yesterday, and told myself I need to do it more often. Because it feels good.
Is not about sharing pain, is not about “if we are both down it feels less down”.
At all.
And none of us was yesterday, neither.
Is about the true discovery of a person in all his richness, and the good vibes it generates. And requires to reach out.
My friend and colleague Peter told me recently: do not ask “how are you?” but “what do you want to achieve and how can I help you?”: well I think I got it.
This is also a thank you post to my world scattered, diverse, male and female friends who know me for who I am, or at least for who I want to be.
They know who they are.
And If one day my kids will ever read my blog (god knows) I hope they will do two things:
– say to themselves they do have relationships like this around
– with a smile in their faces, think of their father as one of them

Stay tuned

Matteo

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Tributo a Sestri Levante

Chi non e’ nato qui non può capire.
19500 anime, tempo immobile, colori stupendi, semplicità disarmante, calore di sole e di gente, pezzi di storia che si rincorrono continuamente, una sensazione di appartenenza che non si spiega.
Guardando mio figlio che scruta i galleggianti sul porto, in un assolato pomeriggio di febbraio, tra un pezzo di focaccia, un gelato ed una carezza a Leo (il cane-figlio di mia zia, nata imperturbabile ed eroica fortezza di semplicità).

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Un rincon del mundo cargado de historia

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Calle Argumosa 13, veinte años después … El piso donde empezó mi Erasmus, amueblado con cosas de la calle, y el principio de una aventura que – sin ninguna duda- abrió mis ojos al mundo.

Gracias Lavapies por haberme acogido con tanto cariño y tanta energía, y por haber sido el sitio de muchas de las respuestas que, entonces, iba buscando.

M