StartupReporter publishes a new article of the series “Startup Journey: from 0 to 1”. In this series of articles, we would like to show founders not only through their innovative projects but also by talking about their personality and the team.
Oleksandr Komarevych (OK): – Adrian, please tell me what Joleat is, where did the idea come from and why in this period?
Adrian Castro: Joleat is an online marketplace that favours the encounter between food and beverage demand and supply between Sellers and Consumers.
With Joleat.com it is possible to sell, discover and buy unique food and beverage products directly from Pastry Shops, Dairies and Cellars, as well as many other types of producers, skipping all the steps of the traditional supply chain.
Any Producer can create and manage their online showcase by listing, describing and starting to sell their products.
Customers can visit the virtual store of each manufacturer and choose the products they want at local prices, eliminating any unnecessary costs.
Orders are delivered to customers’ homes in 24/48 hours and shipped directly by each manufacturer who will take care to preserve the quality of the products and guarantee a suitable packaging.
It’s like Etsy but for food and beverage products.
The idea came from Franco: he was a cook and after working for several starred restaurants (such as Bottura or Niko Romito) he had an experience in the United States, where he confronted himself with realities such as Airbnb and Uber. Once back in Italy, first out of curiosity, then out of passion, he decided to develop a similar platform of his own. At the beginning it was a product aimed at operators of the HORECA channel (food service industry), but shortly after we decided to turn to the B2C market.
OK: – What are you working on right now with Joleat?
Adrian: In a startup, in these phases, there are a thousand things to do and a thousand problems to solve every day. In these days we are working on improving the software part related to shipments, even if our common goal is to increase sales and the number of producers. In short, we are working on making Joleat grow.
OK:– The team is very important for a startup at any stage. Who is in your team? Could you tell our readers about the uniqueness of each team member?
Adrian: We are just three in the team now but I think we are a heterogeneous team:
• I have a degree in computer science and technology from the University of Milan and I follow the technical part of the project.
• Elis, on the other hand, graduated in architecture from the University of Pescara and with his skills follows both the graphic and the sales part.
• At last, but certainly not least, Franco, the founder, graduated from the Culinary School in Abruzzo and together with Elis follows sales and looks for new producers to be included on the platform.
OK: – How would you describe your team in one word?
OK: – What is your roadmap for the next 3-6 months?
Adrian: Our main goal is to grow.
From here to the next few months we would like to close the first round of funding. We are looking for the first investors to help us on this path. We are not only looking for money but partners who can guide and help us in the long-term.
OK: – What is your vision for the next 5 years in your field?
Adrian: The online food market is growing and will grow significantly over the next 5 years. Our goal is to be able to conquer a large share of a small market, more precisely that of food and wine, becoming a reality not just in Italy, but internationally.
OK: – Now, let’s go with a bit more in details about your personality.
Often, in an interview, I ask why you choose this project and not others, why where you so interested in this specific topic. Going the long way around, this brings to the questions: what kind of child were you? Did you have someone who influenced you?
Adrian: My parents always described me as an hyperactive child. I would always try new ways to annoy my parents and to have fun. Nowadays you could say the same, but now I funnel my fun and passion towards my area of study, computer science, and its different applications. The people who influenced me the most were for sure my closest friends when I was 10-11 (hi Lorenzo!) when I decided that Computer Science was my only and forever passion.
OK: – Why did you become a founder and what should anyone develop in him/herself to become a founder?
Adrian: I don’t think there is a general rule that applies to everyone. In my case, I have always been a person looking for exciting things to do whilst putting myself on the line to be better every day. Being a founder, for me, is just that.
OK: – What is the most important lesson you received in your startup journey so far?
Adrian: There is a huge difference between words and actions. Things are pretty damn complex and without a good team, you don’t go anywhere.
OK: – What would you recommend to readers who have an idea, but haven’t figured out where to start yet? Based on your experience, what would be your advice to them?
Adrian: I honestly don’t think I’m the most suitable person for giving this kind of advice. However, I believe that the main thing at the moment is to read and study as much as possible the topic on which you intend to operate and see what the companies in that field do and how to operate, to discuss or maybe take some ideas. At this point, after having an idea on how to start, try to validate the idea.
OK: – What purchase of €100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
Adrian: a comfortable pair of shoes, which were 109€, to be honest. Before these, I used to buy cheap shoes every 3-4 months, but it always felt like walking barefoot. In general, I would always recommend investing more money in something that feels comfortable and lasts longer, whenever possible.
OK: – What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
Adrian: I would always recommend or gift 1984 by George Orwell to anyone who hasn’t read it yet. Taking a look at the dystopian world depicted in this book makes you appreciate a lot of things in our current society. Or despise, you choose your poison.
OK: – What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Adrian: In the world of food I think there are many “bad tips”. Starting from the speeches on the quality of food or its cultivation (organic, biodynamic etc.), on diets, “healthy foods” or “fantastic superfoods”, up to its transformation and sale.
In general, I think that in this sector we should start shaking off some preconceived ideas. We should be a little more rational and address these issues by looking at the data.
OK: – If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)
Adrian: “Stop. Look. Go.”
A quote from David Steindl-Rast that changed my life for the good. It says to stop and look at the beautiful things that surround us, that we take for granted every day.
OK: – What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
Adrian: University. Before starting it, I was sure I didn’t need it, that it was a waste of my time and that I should have gone to work right away after high-school. Oh boy, I was so wrong. During my bachelor’s I have developed so many skills, learned much about what computer science is and what it can and will become.
OK: – What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
Adrian: When someone calls me by my name, I always answer “that is my name!” or “that’s me!”. To me, it’s wonderful and fun to see the other person say “I know it’s you!” ahah!
OK: – Adrian, what would you like to wish the readers?
Adrian: I have never been very good at this kind of thing, but I think there is nothing better and more satisfying in being able to achieve your dreams/projects throughout your life. This is what I wish for the readers!