Saturday morning,Parma, Emilia Romagna, Italy, Earth.
Checking in at "Start up!", yet another Italian conference around startups after the new government announced its measures to boost entrepreneurship.
Era ora! (Finally!)
(Disclosure #1: Parma is my hometown town, the paradise of ham and Italian mobile ventures, since Buongiorno was born there and I founded Neo Network there too, now called Zodiak Active after its acquisition by De Agostini Group.)
At the conference, the Best Italian Internet founders were present -- Luca Lani (Citynews), Max Ciociola (Musixmatch), Mirko Trasciatti (Fuebles), Alex Palmieri (Doveconviene) -- all bringing their direct experience about what it take to start a new company and really showing what entrepreneurship is all about.
The Dream. Commitment. Money. Passion.
The golden drivers these founders spoke about.
I agree with all that they say.
Nevertheless, when it's my turn to share, I add something often people forget. Entrepreneurship is about taking risks. It is to give something up today in order to gain a bigger tomorrow. It's about investing. And investing very valuable stuff. As an entrepreneur you invest all your education you studied hard to achieve, all your life's experience, all your savings, all your reputation. It's an "all in" attitude.
Sometimes at Connect Ventures we meet in between teams with a "fund me and I'll leave my job" proposition.
It's like with romance. "Tell me you love me and I'll break up with my girlfriend" might work for some, but we don't like it.
This all-in approach is what we did in building Connect Ventures ourselves. We both did a restart. I left behind the CEO position in the company I founded and then sold. I left behind a 140 person staff, a PA, my company credit cards. I left a €30M year business based on loyal customers and a proven business model.
To restart on the other side of the table but with the same passion in common with all entrepreneurs: build great stuff. Or, in more flowery terms, work on creative and innovative products that are tech based, built by talented tech people. That's why I started Neo Network as a maker. That's why I started Connect Ventures, as an investor.
Bill's story has a different angle but he is "all in" too. (Bill steps in): Similarly to Pietro, two years ago I was working in a dream job. I was working at a great fund, surrounded by great people, looking at new and interesting businesses everyday, constantly rubbing shoulders with entrepreneurs who wanted to change the world. I guess that rubbed off on me a bit. I go the entrepreneurial bug too. I saw a better way to do venture capital investing and felt that the best way to make that happen was to start a new firm to do it. I met Pietro and Connect Ventures came into being.
Connect Ventures is a startup. We are entrepreneurs. Just like you.
We started with a concept (an investment fund focused on internet businesses run by people who really understand internet), then built a prototype (angel investments), then pitched investors to raise our fund. Now it is time for us to execute. We just found our new office today, yeah! and signed 2 term sheets!
And we're far from finished. We continue to fundraise again, we are tracking and measuring ourselves against KPIs, we've set ambitious milestones, and we're always thinking about an exit (in our case exits!).
Just like you.
We are working very hard, all day, every day.
Just like you.
But we're also having fun too.
Just like you.
We're looking forward to sharing a bit about our journey here, hopefully you'll find interesting and useful.