Marketer, mentor and angel: stories change the world
A focus on Digital startups world with a business angel, mentor, and Marketer
Marketer and Business Angel in this interview to observe digital startups from multiple angles.
Let’s meet Lorenzo D’amelio, Marketer and business angels specialised in digital startups
Interview with Lorenzo D’Amelio, Digital Strategist, Business Advisor, Startup Mentor, Business Angel, Co-Founder of BTREES and Kaleidoc.
Lorenzo is a digital entrepreneur of the Millennial generation with a significant experience in web communication, specialized in the Go-To-Market strategy for Freelancers, Startups, and SMEs.
Hi Lorenzo, as Marketer and Digital Strategist you have supported many companies in Italy and in Europe, can you tell us about the major goals you have achieved and some success stories?
Hello everyone and, first, many thanks for the interview. Yes, I have now been involved in the world of web communication for 14 years and I had the opportunity to see many changes over the time. I am focused on Social Media, an area in which I started working from 2010 as a professional after having started in Web Marketing. At that time, Facebook was not yet the 1st social network in Italy and this helped to find myself in a situation of continuous professional growth and demand for my skills in the market, until the launch of BTREES, a web communication agency that I have co-founded in 2015. You can learn more about me at this link.
A particular success story I am pleased of is the Douja d’Or initiative, a national wine competition held every year in Asti involving several thousand people. In 2019 I coordinated, through BTREES, the communication and it was an intense activity with a marketing mix that ranged from TV to radio, to newspapers and influencers. The campaign – thanks to a special team – went so well that afterwards, in December 2020, we were able to obtain, thanks to the organizers of Unioncamere Piemonte, the prestigious “Golden Smartphone Award – Tourism” through social PA, with a scientific jury made up of LinkedIn, Facebook, Hootsuite, Fanpage, Piepoli Institute, Luiss, Rai, Anci and Agcom.
Another important company I collaborated with is certainly Banca Sella Group, as well as I looked after and coordinated the communication activities for the European Training Center, with the brilliant endorsement of Antonino Cannavacciuolo.
You are a Marketer, the creator of the Social Personal Branding Canvas, what is it?
It is a methodology I have developed to enhance personal branding on social networks: it can be used by an individual or by an organization, as well as by a social advocacy. A bit like the Business Model Canvas, it includes nine blocks in which there are specific questions to be answered to be able to better project one’s image online. It is a strategic guide to communicate effectively on social media, in summary.
You are Co-Founder of two Digital companies: BTREES and Kaleidoc, can you tell us something more about these ventures?
Gladly, starting from BTREES – focused on Social Media Marketing – I co-founded it 6 years ago, a venture that has grown enormously, because from the three founding entrepreneurs we were, we were able to involve an important investor, namely Carlo Robiglio, president of the Ebano Group holding and currently Vice-President of Confindustria and Vice-President of Il Sole 24 Ore. Today the company is led by my partner Christian Zegna as managing director, and has more than 20 employees and collaborators, and it is leveraging as customers on eminent companies at national level, such as Fini Group, Roadhouse, Fintech District, and many others.
I have co-founded Kaleidoc just before Covid-19 pandemic, but it relies on my long experience and Gisella Gallenca’s one, currently the managing director, who is specialized in Web Design, which is precisely the focus of the company, i.e., the development of web and e-commerce platforms. In addition, the company set-up is international, collaborating with partners who provide services to organizations such as the UN, the Olympic Committee, and the European Union.
You are a startup mentor and a marketer, so we would like to ask you how you make your skills available to startups and which tools you use in your mentorship.
Yes, I have always been immersed in the startup world joining Startup Weekend, Hackathon, etc. I developed informally and “on the field” Business Design skills, which I developed first in my companies, I then refined with through Beople training, the first Italian initiative in this field. I support startups mainly from the Investor Pitch to the Go-To-Market and scaleup phase.
You currently collaborate with several hubs such as Startup Geeks and Step Tech Park, any other? What are the major points of differentiation among them?
Yes, I was involved as mentor and speaker in several hubs: Startup Geeks, Step Tech Park, SocialFare, I3P of Turin Polytechnic and others. The passion for startups led me, among other things, to Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania with the Startup Africa Roadtrip initiative, of which I am Co-Founder, so I can say that I have an international experience from this point of view, too. Each hub, however, has its own specificity. Let’s say that compared to those you mentioned, you can say that Startup Geeks can be effectively defined as the 1st online incubator in Italy, and it supports startups in their very early-stage phase, from the idea to MVP. While the others, I cited here, work more from MVP to the Go-To-Market phase. I really like to mention and promote Step Tech Park, with which I collaborate, as it is the first incubator with a focus on Green Economy in Italy, a theme that is close to my heart.
Considering that you are digital strategist, marketer and angel, let’s talk about digital startups, how do you see the Italian ones compared to those of other countries, do you think they are competitive? In terms of maturity of the digital ecosystem in Europe, which countries do you think stand out and which are still far behind? How long do you think it take to fill the gap?
We are certainly behind, just look at the amount of investment. We are not yet comparable with countries like France or UK and perhaps we will never reach that level, but this also means that there is still a lot of room for growth. We have at least 3-4 years “lag”.
What are the characteristics, in your opinion, a startup should have to be successful? What are the essential qualities that the founder’s team should have in order not to risk splitting? Which soft and hard skills are most important for founders? What are the major risks for failure?
I would say – as characteristics for success – team, market innovation, timing. Certainly, they may, at the same time, cause startups to fail, if they are not followed up properly. The greatest risk is probably an inadequate potential market / customer base, but, at the same time, the formal and informal relationship between shareholders is particularly important, i.e., starting from the shareholders’ agreement to the ability to act with emotional intelligence.
Lorenzo you are a marketer but also an Impact Investor and so we would like to understand in what star-tups you like to invest and why. What are your criteria for deciding to make an investment in a startup?
Yes, a couple of years ago I started being part of the Angels4Impact association. I follow with great pleasure and interest two areas: ICT, I am passionate of it, and Circular Economy, which has an enormous social impact, and it is a current economic trend, besides being critical for the future of humanity. In this sector I made my first investment in RiceHouse, a green building startup that is growing by 10x a year and has currently raised – with the contribution of Angels4Impact and other investors – 600 thousand Euro.
When should a digital startup approach a Business Angel? Which metrics are essential to be attractive and why?
I recommend taking this step without “burning” your contacts. It is important to get there when you have already started billing or have a reliable estimation of the potential turn-over. Investors necessarily look at the metrics because they are not philanthropes. We want to grow together with the startup, and Business Angels ‘advantage is that they can provide skills and networks, not just money, but it is necessary to approach this phase after MVP has already been tested. This is also a way to reduce the risk for entrepreneurs: after all, you certainly feel more comfortable if you know the investment can pay off.
As experienced marketer, would you like to recommend some tools to our startup founders or give some suggestions to better deal with it for market analysis and competitor research?
It depends a lot on the type of market and competitors you want to target. At an international level, Investo-pedia is a good platform, but usually in working out digital strategies (an area I mostly deal with) it is necessary to analyse the platforms that competitors use the most, thus doing research directly on Facebook rather than Instagram, or look at the positioning of certain keywords on Google. In any case, a very undervalued and free tool for the continuous competitors’ analysis, I recommend, is Google Alerts.
What is the appropriate documentation that you recommend preparing to a startup to present itself to an investor? Do you recommend preparing it by yourself or having a professional assist you?
The basis is an investor pitch (also called investor deck), but the presentation is not enough if it is not supported by a broader explanation and data. It is therefore essential to also add financial data on the performance of the startup to the projections, and then possibly also a business plan: this allows investors to better understand the reasons for the business decisions that the startup has taken.
If you are interested in startup hubs and in particular in Startup Geeks, please read more on: Incubator online: the Startup Geeks case and Incubator succeeded with a 170,000 euro fundraising
If you are interested in Business Angel Networks, please read more on: Business Angel Networks: the main ones in Italy