Posts Tagged Startup
Togunà Interactive is dead, definitely deleted from the business register of Como.
An insignificant -1 for the statistics of closed companies e 5 people gone one’s separate ways.
Three years ago I celebrated its birth, full of hopes for the future.
The idea was good, someone said, but an idea is nothing without an execution just as good, as anyone who started a hi-tech company knows very well.
I committed myself full-time in this adventure and I certainly did mistakes, starting from the choice of the partners with which to establish the company.
And it’s right on this matter that I’d like to share some suggestions based on my experience, hoping they could be useful to other startuppers.
I read a lot of decalogues about the different aspects of the life of a startup, from establishment to financial issues.
This one is then focused on the relations with partners:
- The “chemistry”: be sure it’s present between you and your adventure companions. It’s that feeling coming from the positive thrill of a handshake, making you feel at ease in company of another person. In my case I didn’t feel it with two of my four partners since the beginning, with the proper negative consequences.
- Money psychology: money is an important tool, to be managed consciously and without prejudices. Talking about it since the beginning with potential partners can be useful to catch signals such as an excessive fear of falling into debt, or the will to do it all without spending a dime. These are signals of a incorrect approach to the use of the money needed to start a company, typically a very limited amount for a software startup. I underestimated these signals from the partner who, on paper, had the best skills on the matter.
- Penalties in agreements: it may seem annoying, but if you have to sign agreements binding partners to dedicate their time to the startup, it’s better quantify and set up penalties, also involving money, if the agreements are not met. We didn’t do that, making the agreements actually useless.
- Complementary skills: I believed that having partners with different skills was a good thing and we pointed that out on our website and in team presentations. It does, indeed, but not so much when skills are neatly different, without a little overlapping. In my case none of my four partners used smartphones or PDAs and thus relied on me even for the most trivial technical issues.
- Remote work: you can do great things even if you work without physical contact, sure, but in my experience I believe that the best things come out when such contact has already been established and consolidated in the past. Something that in our case we didn’t get (or wanted to) even when we rented an office that would have allowed it.
- Haughtiness: you have to stay humble in a startup, and haughtiness is the opposite attitude. After we created a product that people liked, when I was discussing about competitors’ solutions, snooty phrases and attitudes prevailed in partner’s comments. In the meantime competitors sold their products and we just looked.
- Looking at the back of everything: having “experts” at looking at the back of everything in the management board is a really bad thing and it annihilates the spirit of initiative. In a startup, scenerios should be made only in the future, not in the past, maybe by remarking past mistakes due to personal hate or sadism.
- Meetings: they’re effective when brief and planned at the beginning of the work week. We had long meetings on Thursday evening or on Friday, the only time allowed by the working routine of my partners. The week was actually over and the weekend was coming, during which no one obviously preferred to be disturbed. I recall that an expert consultant I had the chance to talk to about the way we did meetings, ironically named it as the “bridge club”.
- Siena’s Palio syndrome: an italian journalist who follows the startup scene defined it in this way. It’s a sickness that takes place when the objective become “loosing is ok, the important is that you don’t win”, in confrontations among partners for example. There’s no cure for this virus. Probably it comes from a negative jealousy feeling (since there’s also a positive one that drives you to make better).
- Mentor: being able to count on a mentor, an experienced person, above the parts and respected by all partners, is among the most important things for a startup. It’s also one of the most difficult to find, so keep your “antennas” active to find him since the beginning among the people you know or encounter. I found a mentor too late, when things already went awry, but he has been important nonetheless.
I hope these can be useful recommendations. As for my particular case, maybe it would take a book to be able to tell the whole tale that made me elaborate them.
If you’re in doubt about the choice of partners, rather than risking that mediocrity could take its place in the management board, my recommendation is: start alone and devote yourself to your project.
JUST MAKE, and since talent attracts talent, you’ll certainly find better partners along the way.
Can a country or a company survive even if it doesn’t care about meritocracy?
Yes, probably, but just survive, since in the fast global market it’s destined to lose competitivity.
I read the two books, Meritocracy and Rules, with interest. They accurately analyze important subjects, often superficially mentioned in articles and debates on traditional media.
The first book by Roger Abravanel left me with a definitely optimistic impression: after an analysis of the value of recognizing and rewarding merit, as well as the best practices this social attitude can lead to in different environments, from small companies to public administration, Abravanel makes 4 realistic proposals to develop meritocracy culture in Italy.
The second one, written by Abravanel together with Luca d’Agnese, left me feeling a bit more pessimistic, since they unravel the causes that generated “vicious circles” of rules in our country, making it fall to the bottom of numerous international rankings about competitivity in various sectors.
We need to fire up “virtuous circles” of rules, because making rules is as much important as respecting them, to understand which of them needs to be canceled or changed.
However, if our country sits on the proverbial “rule made, cheat found”, we can forget to regain competitivity. 🙁
I think everything starts from schools and good teachers. Abravanel’s proposals about this are realistic and perhaps something is happening, slowly, while dinosaurs egoistically defending their positions are extinguishing…
The books are a must read even for startuppers. By definition a startup has to act quickly to become competitive, and in my experience this isn’t possible if startup members don’t really understand how important meritocracy is.
The entrepreneurial adventure started with i-muse goes on.
From the work of the last months come the new website, launched in italian and english, the first newsletter, and a series of activities that had a strong acceleration thanks to the effort of our new marketing assistant, Francesca, a brilliant girl who gets things done, with whom I daily share the office in Como.
At the same time, the development of the platform is going through another important step: we’re working on i-muse Creator, the content management system of i-muse, the tool that allows to visually create tours for the video guide by assembling and synchronizing audio-visual contents. A software that reserved for me a number of technical challenges during its construction.
Happy for the challenges overcome, after the summer stop I think an intense time is waiting for us.
It’s really difficult to explain how hard startupping is, especially in Italy and in a time of crisis: with good will and patience it’s the right time to build and hope for a better future.
In the meantime we enjoy a healthy summer stop to recharge batteries, physical and mental ones! 🙂
As the last year, I’ve been invited to present i-muse to the students of the Master in Brand of the Territorial Systems organized by POLI.design.
This year I went together with Francesca, our new marketing assistant and, like she said, we come back angry! 😈
In a positive sense I mean: students were enthusiastic to try firsthand an easy to use tool that potentially represents the missing ring between modern mobile technologies and the fruition of multimedia contents made by professionals.
Sending this message to the people who have the power to decide whether to start an innovative project at their own exhibition is another challenge.
From this sort of contrast comes our angryness, so to say.. something that will stimulate us to work harder and try to communicate better with potential customers.
Accessibility was another matter of discussion with students: i-muse offers a number of options that make the application accessible to hearing and sight impaired people.
After this presentation we went back to work to get ready to launch the news on which we’re working in the background since some time: the first one is the new i-muse website, now online in italian! 🙂
Interviews, articles, friends, curious people, potential partners and investors: everything happened at our stand inside the Innovation Routes area during the four days of Smau 2008!
Tired and satisfied, thanks also to Emil Abirascid, who took care of the forth edition of the Routes and led to our stand journalists and reporters, with these results: Paolo interviewed by TG2 and Blogosfere, Guido interviewed by Markom.tv, my interview for Radio24, an article on il Giornale, another one on the Lombardia feature of Il Sole 24 ORE and a mention on Nova24.
I’m happy since there was great attention towards startups created by young adults willing to innovate and change things!
And now the Lu.Be.C. event in Lucca is waiting for us, where we’ll present a new project during the afternoon session.
Even at Lu.Be.C. we’ll have a stand where “Chiara – the virtual guide”, will uncover herself for the joy of heritage valorization specialists! 😉
The center of Milan has been overwhelmed by the events of Innovation Circus for a whole week: talk shows, presentations, exhibitions and interactive labs about innovation for everyone.
With such a theme i-muse had to be there!
We had the chance to talk about the videoguide two times: during the talk show about innovation in turism that took place at Ottagono, in the center of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, and during Milano in Progress at Palazzo Giureconsulti, a marathon of presentations by creative and innovative local companies.
There was all Togunà team at Ottagono and Guido, during his speech, showed the audience the best videos and animations of i-muse.
Paolo then repeated the presentation at Palazzo Giureconsulti in just 5 minutes marked by a virtual gong.
Now we’re ready for the next event: we’re exhibitors at Smau 2008, inside the Percorsi dell’Innovazione area, stand P18. Come and see us there! 🙂
After almost two years spent working in the spaces the Acceleratore d’Impresa of the Politecnico di Milano assigned us, since september we moved to a new office: always in Como, pretty close to the University, roomy and with costs compatible with a startup budget. 🙂
We share the new space with other two ICT companies, Oplà and Ennova Research, and we’re going to maintain the great relationship we built with the staff of the Acceleratore d’Impresa.
I’m happy because not only we enjoyed playing as house-painters (the picture is self-explanatory! ;)) and interior decorators, but mostly because in this way we can knock down a barrier that was limiting the internal communication of the team.
Being able to see each other almost everyday, certainly will speed up the decisional process and we’ll be able to make more things together.
Togunà’s adventure continues from the new office!
Windows Mobile Italy published an interview about our entrepreneurial adventure.
Editor-in-chief Diego Magnani opens the interviews section of the site by posting a series of questions and answers about Togunà and i-muse.
I know Diego since he was editor of the italian printed magazine Il mio palmare, so he introduced me in the interview by recalling Euro Coins Pocket Collector, the first software I made for Pocket PC platform.
Since then, mobile devices with the Microsoft operative system conquered a good market share, especially convergent devices with phone capabilities, and the name of the platform changed to Windows Mobile.
There’s no lack of news at all in this world and Diego has the experience to report them to his readers in an pretty appealing way. Good luck then to Diego for his editorial adventure. 🙂
Enjoy the interview!
i-muse now runs even on the Zypad made by Eurotech! 🙂
It’s a mobile device with WindowsCE 6.0 operative system, belonging to the category of the so-called “wearable computers”, made by Eurotech.
One of the most stimulating aspects of my role as technical director in Togunà Interactive is playing with the latest devices, and thanks to Eurotech we had the chance to port i-muse on their Zypad with the hope to start some projects together.
The conversion was a hard challenge, especially due to the redesign of the user interface, since the Zypad has a 320×240 pixels resolution display.
It’s a compact and multipurpose device, deployable in numerous application environments thanks to the integration of the Rfid, Bluetooth, Zigbee and Gps technologies according to the models.
Now that the videoguide platform supports mobile devices with Windows Mobile and Windows CE operative systems, we can take care of devices made by other major market players, such as Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch! 😉
Thanks again to the support of the Startup Accelerator and its renewed staff, we had the chance to show i-muse to the public for the second time since the birth of Togunà Interactive. 🙂
The exhibition area of the Wireless for Business Forum was smaller than the R2B one and the event was pretty much focused on the conferences. However, the little desk at the Startup Accelerator’s stand, which also hosted friends at Urbano Creativo and Fluidmesh, got the attention both of curious people and potential partners and clients.
Compared to other providers of innovative technologies, we have can directly show a working videoguide, and this easily capture the attention of the people passing by.
By the way, how could you resist to the banner with “Chiara – the virtual guide“, as you can see in the photo? 😉
See you at the next exhibition!