StartupReporter publishes a new article of the series “Startup Journey: from 0 to 1”. In this series of articles, we aim at presenting founders not only through their innovative projects but also by talking about their personality and the team.
Oleksandr Komarevych (OK): – Marco, please tell me what Viamadeinitaly is? Where did the idea come from and why in this period?
Marco Mutto: – Viamadeinitaly is a digital B2B platform that connects daily Italian suppliers with international buyers.
The idea was born when Marco Reiter told us how in his previous startup he had worked closely with several small Italian manufacturers that produced shoes and accessories for his brand, and he had realized how these companies made a beautiful product but had big difficulties to find new clients.
So, one evening Marco, Tommaso and I, met at a restaurant to understand how we could solve this problem, offering a tool in line with the digital times in which we live in. A few moments later we had already started drawing our idea of a platform on a napkin 🙂
From that moment on we dedicated weekends and evenings to do research and work on the project, and after a while, we created our startup.
The moment is now, tens of thousands of small companies in Italy make beautiful products but they need to show it on a daily basis in order to have new business opportunities. We have the possibility to help our territory, and this is one of the things that motivates us the most.
OK: – Knowing the importance of the brand Made in Italy, which product do you represent via Viamadeinitaly and from which countries buyers come?
Marco Mutto: – We started with Fashion that represents currently our main sector, also because it is the sector we know the best. We also have already many home decor and furniture suppliers on the platform.
Now we are working on these categories but we will open overtime to other ones such as cosmetics, food & beverage, etc. Everything Made in Italy is famous for. Most of our buyers come from the US, UK and a good part from Germany and Nordics. In the next months, we will reach other countries, like Japan.
OK: – Why do you think the brand Made in Italy is so strong around the world?
Marco Reiter: – I believe that Made in Italy not only represents great quality and design but it’s a lifestyle concept. I was born in Vienna from Italian descents, and I can tell you that most Viennese people wish they were Italian when it comes to approaching Life. They not only dress in Italian garments but also love the Italian Lifestyle, the easiness. So for me, products Made in Italy make people experiencing Italy back in their home countries.
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?
- Marco Mutto: meticulous, attentive to details but without losing sight of the company’s route
- Marco Reiter: purposeful, a volcano of ideas. International mentality with an Italian heart
- Tommaso Zanin: empathic, capable of creating a connection with anyone. Enthusiastic about life
- Stefano Battiva: lovable nerd who loves beauty. With photoshop he could paint a “Gioconda”
- Elena Melcarne: our new entry, agile and flexible professional. Fluid and flowing in her writing
OK: – How would you describe your team in one word?
We are constantly attentive to the inputs that come from outside and from those that come from within our team. Every day we try to raise the level of our performance to achieve the goals we set ourselves.
OK: – What is your roadmap for the next 3-6 months?
Marco Reiter: – Due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, we saw a strong increase in all our KPIs. We really need to leverage this unique moment in time and speed up Supplier Acquisition as well as invest in the communication of the platform. By the end of this year, we want to double all our key metrics.
In parallel, we are working on updating our platform in order to increase the User Experience and add some new features that will guarantee a greater level of Customer Service and Added Value.
OK: – What is your vision for the next 5 years in your field?
Marco Reiter: – We have the mission to become the leading digital platform when it comes to Made in Italy in the B2B sector. We believe that is inevitable that Buyers from around the world will start sourcing their products online.
Why would someone travel around the world to attend a trade fair if he can find the same products from his mobile phone from back home?
We hope that this has also a positive impact on travel cost and pollution.
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 were 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?
Tommaso: – I can say that my childhood was very traditional and fortunate. Up to the age of 18, I was concentrated in studies and sport, then finally came a date with a girl!
There was not a single fact that influenced me to get to what I am today but I can say that my family has always supported me in my decisions that I have made throughout my university and job. Even when I interrupted my permanent position to follow my entrepreneurial ambitions and my personal passion, their support was never lacking.
Marco Mutto: – I also have to say that I had a nice childhood too; Study and sport were at the centre of my days; as a kid, I played sport at a high level and it taught me a lot: the daily commitment to achieve the goals, compare oneself with others and learn not to give up.
In addition to this, I must say that I am very close to my family and my family members have been the people who have influenced me most, especially both my grandparents.
Marco Reiter: – I would say we all have been very lucky having a family that not only gave us love but focused us on the importance of education, studies and sports. Also, growing up in Vienna is definitely a big fortune in life. However, what impacted my life the most was losing my father at a very young age. I started taking care of my little sister very early.
That creates a kind of responsibility and strength that forms you as a person later on. On a professional level, the biggest influence came from my former Team at Scarosso and from my brother who is an entrepreneur himself.
OK: – Why did you become a founder and what should anyone develop in him/herself to become a founder?
Marco Reiter: – In my case, it happened accidentally due to the Entrepreneurial Project in the MBA which became my first Start-Up. In retrospective, I would say it was a very fortunate coincidence because I really found my passion, which is building companies.
The most important trait you must develop as a founder is resilience. You will face so many drawbacks and Nos from Investors and other Stakeholders, but you have to get up in the morning, shake it all off, get back to the office and try again. And in order to do so more easily, you should have great co-founders to share these moments with.
Together you are stronger and can motivate each other back on track. And without a problem-solving approach, you better don’t start a venture because most of your days you will spend fixing problems.
Marco Mutto: – I’ve always dreamed of creating something, but it was born suddenly at a time when I was focused on other projects. I like challenges and I like to test myself, and this is definitely a beautiful challenge. I totally agree with Marco, resilience is the key.
You really find out what it means being a founder when you become one; There are many difficult moments, those in which everything seems impossible, but facing them, overcoming them and seeing your project grow gives incredible energy.
OK: – What is the most important lesson you received in your startup journey so far?
Marco Reiter: – I would say that Business Plans never realize the way you planned them and that there is always a solution to a problem. Especially when you are a small start-up you can react fast and find new ways to a problem. Even if it means a complete pivot of your business model.
You should use your advantage that you are not a big and slow corporation. Additionally, I would say it’s advisable to invest some extra money in great lawyers when you’re fundraising from VCs because they can save your life/business.
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?
Tommaso Zanin: – Talk with many people, both entrepreneurs who can advise you on how to build your idea, and with people who could one day be your customers and understand if they would buy your product.
OK: – What purchase of €100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
Tommaso: – The thing I have purchased is not particularly strange but full of meaning.
3 months ago, during a visit to a shoe factory, I bought a handmade shoe from the producer. After a few days, I sent him a photo that I was wearing his shoes to my aunt’s wedding and he was really moved by the thought.
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?
Marco Reiter: – I would recommend to everyone, irrespective of being a founder or not these three books:
- SAPIENS, Yuval Noah Harari
- BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY, W. Chan Kim
- OUTLIERS, Malcolm Gladwell
“Sapiens” made me reflect a lot about our society, political systems and market dynamics. I think it should become mandatory reading in all schools. It puts your life in the right perspective.
Tommaso Zanin: – I would recommend:
- SAPIENS, Yuval Noah Harari (recommended by Marco :-))
- ALIBABA, Duncan Clark
- Any book of Dan Brown
I love to give tourist guides, both of the cities that I loved to visit, and of the cities that I know to be a destination desired by the birthday boy. I think travel is one of the best ways to spend money.
Marco Mutto: – In general, I really like books about true stories or biographies, even from different sectors from business to sport; these are the ones which I get the most inspiration from, sometimes just a few lines or some passages.
I started reading a book, recommended by Marco, he is my reference for books and Netflix documentary/series 🙂 “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” … probably it will become one of my favourites.
OK: – What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Marco Mutto: – Good question, but I can’t exactly tell you some in particular, in my opinion, what can be dangerous are negative people and negative behaviours, for building something great there is no room for negativity.
Marco Reiter: – I agree with Marco. You have to think positive. That’s why i think the worst recommendations are not to try and people telling you that “it can not be done”.
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?
Marco Reiter: – Nice question, and not easy to answers considering billions of people would read it.
There are so many things I would like people to finally realize. One quote that I heard once from an astronaut that makes you reflect a lot about outdated political ideologies: “Seeing the earth from outer space you don’t see any country borders on the planet”.
Too many leaders have still not understood that we are on this planet together and we better collaborate with each other in order to make this world a better place.
OK: – What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Marco Reiter: – I hope my time in Viamadeinitaly because we really have the chance to save hundreds or potentially thousands of companies and jobs.
OK: – What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
Marco Reiter: – There are some really silly series on Netflix that I love to watch with my wife to switch off the brain and lough. But they are quite embarrassing to mention 😉
OK: – What would you like to wish the readers?
– Finding their passion in life and stay healthyMarco Reiter