Startupper's Swing / Giovanni Daprà / MoneyFarm

Pubblicato il 13 Apr 2012

What would I suggest to those who wants to start-up a new enterprise? They should firstly study and learn from big start-ups of success; things never happen by chance!

Born in Milan Giovanni Daprà graduated in Finance at Bocconi University and then followed a Master at Cass Business School in London where he obtained an MSc in Quantitative Finance. He started working with Deutsche Bank AG's Global Market Division in dealing with strategic transactions with theItalian Banks, where he worked as an Associate until December 2010.

But he left his career in traditional finance world to become an entrepreneur.

He is currently co-founder, PM & CIO MoneyFarm, a web platform to invest in an innovative way which received investments from two VC Italian, Annapurna and JupiterVentures.

I always hated wasting time: I have a frenzied DNA, and I do not think I will ever change. I am convinced that we need to value every moment of our life, as if every single second were central in the achievement of our personal realization. This is the reason why I try to be busy all the time, and I never feel overloaded with the workload.

After graduating at Bocconi University (a bachelor degree in Finance,) I decided to leave Italy and to start an M.Sc. in order to complete my education and improve my professional skills. I started a M.Sc. in Quantitative Finance at Cass Business School, but after a few months I was given the chance to work as an intern at Detusche Bank, in the Fixed Income department: therefore I decided to continue my M.Sc. as part time student. At the end of the internship, Detusche Bank offered me an open-ended contract, which of course I accepted.

I lived in London for 5 years, a city which can give you a lot of opportunities, from both the personal and professional point of views. On the other hand, if you do not want to risk to be overloaded, you must be careful at how you spend your energies. While I was living in London I could watch, from a privileged place, the main recent events characterising financial markets: the peak of 2006, the crash of 2008 and the plateu in 2010. It was clear to me that something in financial markets were irreversibly changing.

Under these circumstances, I understood that it was time to leave such a declining industry. At the same time, I wanted to learn something new and to join a different job.

Moreover, I was more and more interested in the start-up's phenomenon, and I was getting convinced (as I am still convinced) that economy will be characterised in the future by new businesses based on the web and quickly developed, as in the cases of Facebook, Twitter or Mint. I have always been fascinated by people capable to create things which last in time (a single piece of work, an activity, or an enterprise.)

Studying what was happening in the States and in the tech world, I discovered a new universe where young American entrepreneurs were succeeding in the creation of new businesses: they strongly believe in their mission and were able to communicate it to their team, with perseverance and enthusiasm.

I decided to co-start Prestiamoci, the first Italian P2P platform for managing money, with Paolo Galvani, who I had met at Detusche Bank.

I immediately liked the idea of Prestiamoci: indeed I was already convinced that the web could bring disrupting innovations in the traditional framework of financial services. I decided to put some money in the seed capital for the developing of this business idea.

The experience at Prestiamoci showed me that working in a bank was not my business: instead, I understood that it is possible to create your own job, and that starting a new company is not as risky as you might think. During this experience, I also had the opportunity to meet Andrea Scarso which currently is co-founder at MoneyFarm: he had worked at SAS where he had become an expert in solutions for banks and insurances.

After the successful experience at Prestiamoci, Paolo Galvani asked me to join a new business idea, MoneyFarm: a platform which allows money savers to invest their savings in a smart way.

I immediately decided to join the project, indeed the balance between private savers and the financial industry is hardly ever in equilibrium. Words like finance, savings, accountsin everyday people's vocabulary are translated into discouragement, loss, fraud. We wanted to turn upside down this concept of finance, and allow savers to invest their money without losing control on their investments. The idea was to create a platform which could gradually bring people closer to finance, like some kind of next-generation online financial advisor, closer to customers' needs; a platform capable to reduce the gap between savers and financial institution, which is the cause of the loss of confidence in banks.

We had decided the business concept of MoneyFarm, it was time to decide where to set up the company.

One of the first things I learned studying the American start-ups' environment is that starting up a new company is one of the hardest thing to do on the earth, therefore you have to maximize your probability of success. Doing business in Italy had pros and cons: in Italy we had many contacts, furthermore the market of financial services was less competitive; on the other hand, I am sure you know all the disadvantages….

The turning point was when two venture capital funds, Annapuma Ventures and Jupiter Ventures, decided to invest in MoneyFarm: it was then time to start up the company and to build the platform.

In March 2011 we opened MoneyFarm's office in Milan, and we started to build the technological platform which would have become a guide for private savers in the managing their savings.

Nowadays MoneyFarm's team consists of: me, Paolo Galvani, Andrea Scarso, Stefano Longhi (CTO,) Jacopo Anselmi (Chief Data Scientist,) Agostino Rusconi (who helps me with financial analysis) and Laura Colciago (Social Media Manager.) We are very proud of our team, we worked very hard to create it because we believe that the team is the most valuable asset in a start-up company.

MoneyFarm's team is characterised by a mix of skills which reflects the double soul of the platform, which is both a web and financial platform: indeed, we were able to make advanced financial services easy to use for anyone, as well as to offer an independent and customized advisory service.

During the first year of MoneyFarm, we could observe the main events of the Euro Crisis and we could understand, in the light of the new changes, how savers are changing their investment behaviour.

We are all growing up through this experience, and I think I am now able to draw some conclusions from these first months at MoneyFarm.

Becoming entrepreneurs in Italy is complicated (I will not consider myself as an entrepreneur until MoneyFarm has took off:) indeed, there are many countries in which the start-ups' environment is far more developed. Moreover, here in Italy there is a generation gap between young people and their fathers, which had a more developed entrepreneurial spirit.

On the other hand, I see a growing positive attitude of people toward projects like ours: indeed, we received a lot of positive feedbacks through Twitter and other channels.

What would I suggest to those who want to start-up a new enterprise? They should study and learn from big start-ups of success; things never happen by chance!

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