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We interviewed a founder at Ellyot, Dario Pandolfo. He promises us a rocking application, that is to turn over the working population. So, get ready for the first-hand startup's how-tos, news about startup-movement in UK and places to meet like-minders. Already feel intrigued, don't you?
Founder at Ellyot
Is going to launch the app to market in January
Was a Junior Lawyer
A true coffee addict.
Hi Dario. Traditional first question: who are you? What idea you want to share with the world?
My name is Dario and I am the CEO of a beautiful and multicultural team. After a master’s degree in Corporate Law and spending some time in the US, I decided to dedicate my life to digital innovation which led me to spend the last few years working within the European Startup-movement. In addition to this, I am a Phd Candidate, studying new business models and the future of work.
My idea is bringing humanity back into the center of the innovation movement. Human enrichment and wellness should be at the core of most future products and services.
The survival of the old mechanical system, through the extreme and desperate defense of productivity and reduction of prices, has been the main obsession of the twentieth century and of the first phase of the ICT revolution. However, the financial crisis and many recent disruptive events, for example digital currencies, IoT and AI, could be a great opportunity to free entrepreneurs, and people in general from the old Fordism and efficiency obsessions.
The vision we would like to share is the idea of empowering humanity in every aspect of people’s lives. I can not stress further that technology and innovation (AI and IoT in particular) shouldn’t become an obsession or the “answer to all questions” but just a tool or enabler to reach new ways of living. Given my Italian background, I can only work for a new renaissance where knowledge is functional to substantial human improvement.
What Ellyot is going to be about? How did you come up with the idea of the application?
I came up with this idea one day in Barcelona. I was walking around and looking at how the modern cities and workers are changing. A brand new era is coming and new infrastructures and processes are required where workers needs are at the core.
Ellyot focuses on the working population. As you can understand, our project is still currently under wraps so we look forward to sharing this with you in a few month’s time…
What are the most important ingredients in your opinion to successfully launch the startup?
Hard work, passion, vision and bravery.
The first one is essential. There are plenty of movies and books out there that tell wonderful stories about fast tracks to success but the reality is very different. In order to be successful, startups must invest a lot of time and hard work, rather than relying on luck or fast selling genial ideas.
Passion is the emotional investment. A startup launch is a long journey, rich in problems and pivots. If you truly believe in what you are doing, this becomes extremely rewarding.
Vision is the element that keeps a team together. It allows team members to work together towards a common goal. Once everyone is clear on the vision, the hard work and passion will also fall into place. It is crucial to set long-term goals (strongly needed in an innovative process) without worrying about short term results.
Last but not least, bravery is the attitude that every startup-er should embody. This should entail elements such as thought-leadership, creativity and being able to be confident enough to potentially take risks that more corporates could not take.
Who is helping you to work on the application? Have you enticed investors?
We have a wonderful family of six in the team. Florian, who I met at university, is the Content Manager taking care of the look and feel of the content. He also keeps us all in line! Tina, looks after the Marketing and recently moved to London from New Zealand. Cam, the artist and designer, who has a brilliant sense of humor. And of course we have our two genius developers – Giancarlo and Charles. I must say we are very lucky to have found one another as we massively respect each other and love spending time together outside of work.
Although we all have our specific roles within the startup, we are all encouraged to not just stay within our swimlanes and be proactive in our thinking. As far as investor conversations, the entire team steps up to work on the preparation material, however Tina, Florian and I have been the front-men in prospecting and meeting with potential investors and taking conversations forward.
Let`s say you get some funding from an angel investor tomorrow, what will your next idea will be about? What problems do you see in society nowadays?
The main problem we noticed is the lack of humility in innovative services and products. Startups are still too obsessed with selling and generating revenue as first goal, regardless of creating real value or enriching their users’ lives in a substantial way. We’d like to empower human beings in a brand new era where the signs of crisis of the old system must be taken as bridges towards a brand new paradigm.
Too many platforms (sharing economy in particular) are too focused on taking down prices and wages, protecting in some way the old dying system. We believe that the price is not everything and that this is becoming clear with recent financial crunches and the birth of new sources of value. Ellyot will continue to take this view forward.
Were there any pivots during the working out Ellyot’s strategy?
Absolutely! During our first development phase, we realized we had taken the wrong path. After an important meeting with an Angel, we decided to change and adapt our idea and even part of the team. We re-started from zero without giving up. We showed resilience, humility and adaptability.
What challenges did you meet while working out the app?
The main challenge has been finding a good balance between vision and execution. In order to do so, a team must dream big but move “de mica en mica” as they say in Catalunya (step by step).
That being said, once you have set a concrete working process, the rest will follow.
Hope, we will say “No” to queries soon. When the project is going to be launched?
During Christmas we will be testing and in January we will launch to market.
What are you proud of? Are there any KPIs you’ve already achieved?
MI am proud of the resistance and constant growth of the team. This is not a numerical indicator but tells me a lot about the quality of the product we will deliver. I strongly think that good people is what makes success so we are on a good track.
As far as the Key Performance Indicator, as you can understand, we can not publically talk about numbers I’m afraid. However, we have had some great feedback and built on the Angel network relationships.
There are no similar projects on the app market, am I right?
Absolutely not! Of course the birth of a new market and the need is there, however as mentioned, most of the tech companies are still obsessed with revenue, prices, fancy-business concepts and short-term results, neglecting users themselves.
What rest works are to be done before the release? Shall we wait for thriving promo campaign?
We certainly hope there will be a super successful promotion campaign. The reality is that given we have a low marketing allocation, we have a marketing approach in place where we are not relying on paid for communication. We will be stripping back completely taking on a very down to earth campaign. The view is that the initial success will come from endorsement from credible influencers within the category as this will predominantly be PR.
Will you monetize the app?
Yes. However, this is not our obsession and we will want to monetize it in a substantial way.
We aim to generate money in a brand new way and not using overcharged revenue streams or solely intangible digital streams. The reason is that we believe good revenue models should be half digital and half substantial as this is the formula to generate real value for users.
Ellyot is London based tech startup but you are originally from Italy? Why did you choose London as a target market?
I would start from saying that London is the best place to test an innovative product. You have a young and massively digital population, a highly competitive market, inspired as well as a good legal and investment system for startups. It’s a place where you can try and see what happens, whilst still being able to elevate the risks.
One of the interesting pieces is Brexit. It is something that could change things but it’s still too early to say. We will see what will happen next year. I personally hope that London will remain connected with the rest of the European startup community.
In saying that, there are still other cities in Europe that are also very interesting for Ellyot.
Tell us about startup-movement in UK.
It is such a great place for a startup as there are endless amounts of talent and opportunities. Of course, this then leads to competitiveness of the market as most startups are making so much noise that they are eventually drowning each other out. Regardless, we are extremely appreciative on the opportunities we have had in London so far.
As you can imagine, there is also a strong and wrong myth of fast success. London is a fast and stressful place where people are used to getting everything right here and right now. I am not sure that this is the best attitude when you are working on something disruptive.
What should I do to meet startupers?
Of course you could go to startup events and conferences but I think that the best way to meet real startuppers is being a real startupper. If you take this path you will suddenly realize the great difference between many individualistic “Sunday startuppers” that go around talking about a great idea they have but they did not realize yet and those who are part of a working team and suffer everyday with hard execution issues.
So, my advice would be to put yourself out there and join-start a startup.
What do you like working at a startup for?
I worked in a Law firm and in companies in the past but the freedom to explore and generate new ideas that I found in the startup ecosystem is unique. Here I feel at home, I am free to express all my curiosity and exploit a sort of mental anarchy, looking for new challenges I believe in.
How do you wind down?
I love travelling, meeting up with friends and listen or play music. One of my favorite things to do after work is having a good glass of Italian wine or a gin and tonic as I try to make a balance of my working day with people I love and trust. That’s one of the most important things to keep my feet on the ground.
Are you a coffee addict yourself? :)
Yes, I was born near Venice, the city of coffee. Coffee was first commercialized in Venice in the XVI century. I have grown up surrounded by the coffee culture and I love it. I must admit I used to drink 6/7 espressos per day.
6 web resources that inspire you are:
Depends on my mood and what kind of inspiration I am after.
I use Twitter – Panda (feed reader) to keep me updated.
Forbes – Mashable – Scientific American - Vice to read about general stuff.
Beta List – Behance – Codepen – Awwwards to keep me updated about more practical stuff.
Dario, thanks for sharing your plans! We’re looking forward to Ellyot’s launch!