Startupper's Swing / Andrea Nembro / XLpoll

Pubblicato il 21 Mag 2012

My adventure began many years ago and this is my second round on the carousel. I have the coin and I‘m ready to have fun again.

I was born in 1974, in Vigevano. I always loved drawing since the first grade, when I stayed hours and hours drawing cars on Fabriano’s paper with glossy pastel by “Caran d’Ache” from the pack of 40. I would define myself “insanely sick” of the beauty of things and of the emotions that a beautiful design conveys. I’m so keen to choose the fish at the supermarket because of its shape! The Industrial Design Degree allows me to certify my passion and the Master in E-Design definitely brings me closer to the meeting between digital and business. Now this is my second adventure, as startupper. The best time to think about the development of my project? On ride bike!

… … …

2001 on July, Webbit, Padova. Here I buy my first coin of the carousel. Embroiled in a tangle of network cables, I find myself dipped in the first Italian web surfers’ convention: a kind of “digital Woodstock” where web designers, hackers, system engineers and just geeks share views about a world still blooming. No schedules and rules, we slept in sleeping bags lying on the ground and we were not worry about a professional world not still ready for the web. We could look like nerds but actually in there we were doing a little revolution! I come back reinvigorated from Webbit and I realize that “invent something” in part of my DNA.

With Roberto I set up Purodesign, a digital staurtup. Proudly I admit that we were pioneers in our area; the ones who offered digital consulting, by a certain level, to local firms. I admired IDEO and Frog Design for their creative energy and their solutions, I dreamed of becoming like them. We won “Young entrepreneurs – new idea” award by Camera di Commercio di Milano: articles in newspapers and many handshakes, encouragement from all. I felt like the Steve Jobs from Lomellina! We were a volcano of ideas, some of them incredible for that age. For example we had mapped the entire Vigevano with a 160kb tool browsable with three buttons: it was an ancestor of Google Maps! If we had been more far-sighted, now I would not be here writing these things.

But at that time in Italy it was very difficult to start up a business in digital field: there were not Venture Capital or Business Angels yet so the only sources of funding were their own. Also the background was not mature yet. How to develop online platforms with a modem by 56k? But for me the biggest obstacle was the mindset of “Lomellina Valley”, an area surrounded by rice fields between Milano and Pavia. Here it was impossible to speak about innovation, server or web applications (maybe I would receive the same responses still today). We could not persuade the companies to use the emails. One of our clients sent us website updates by fax! Jurassic.

During that period a change in my path occurs and brings me in a specific direction. I attend a master in “e-design – the online project” at Polytechnic of Milan and I discover how to meet design, technology and business. This course teach me the management side of business, without forgetting the creativity. After five years revenues from Purodesign didn’t compensate labor and energy costs so we took the painful decision to close. The background where we worked was against the technology yet.

I worked in Glamm Interactive, TicketOne and now in Vetrocare. These job experiences, all in technology sector, provide me financial tranquility and first of all they allow me to travel around the world. But inside me the startupper blaze is still burning. The path, that began with Webbit’01 many years ago, is started again toward new areas, with more skills and relationships, like a baggage, that will help me in my business project.

My dream? To find a network of skilled young talents with whom I can develop my three startup in web application field, maybe all branded “Purodesign”:

XLpoll, platform that will upset the online market researches and the web advertising.

The Designers, solution for matching designers and business.

Riff4you, a new 2.0 way of musical dedications for any location.

XLpoll at the moment is the most developed project (status seed, business plan completed, in search for investors) is based on a innovative idea that upsets the actual logics of that market segment. It means to say to a potential client (for example a Market research Institute) “from today you will totally change your way to do online researches”. It takes courage! All these projects share a creative spirit, where design is an important component. It’s not easy to speck about design for a immaterial segment as digital. The intent is to create web applications that are not only useful but also.. visually emotional, comparable with a car designed by Giugiaro o a chair by Philippe Starck. This is the soul of my projects, this is the energy that convinces me to go on every day.

At last I want to give three devices to new startuppers, particularly to the youngest who are discovering the world of work now.

1) Do not panic at the word “Business Plan”

If you have a good idea, you will be able to build a business plan for it. Maybe the original idea will be distorted, but you wil create an interesting project on it. Because of my professional approach, that combines management, marketing but also creative business, I translate every new idea immediately in a business plan: who are my potential clients? how to find them? how to take profit? what the exit strategies? When you find convincing responses to these questions, you will be ready to draw the structure of your project. A good technology, a revolutionary idea, an excellent team don’t have solid foundations without a clear business plan. Read “Business Model Generation” by Osterwalder, a useful book for any startupper: easy, clear, strategic and graphically persuasive.

2) Draw your idea

Do you remember Zuckerberg in the movie “The social network” when he draws the structure of Facebook on the walls of his chamber? Do the same, draw your idea on paper: the relationships between the actors, who does what, input and output, a first graphically layout and finally the financial cashflows. In this way you can understand if the project also “smells” of business not just technology. To see something drawn on paper provides me the energy to go on.

3) Turn yourself in global pioneers.

Have the spirit of pioneers of the Far West but think in global terms. Maybe the first source of funding for your project could be right close to home. You immediately have to think in international terms in order to understand if the project can be attractive for Venture Capital. Maybe you will make the “big jump” in London or in Dubai. Maybe in Shanghai. The correct approach is to have no geographical limits.

My adventure began many years ago and this is my second round on the carousel. I have the coin and I‘m ready to have fun again.

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