Networking is an art since you have to be really involved in each single relationship you want to build.
Luca Borreani and Nicolo Manica are the Italian born entrepreneurs behind the incredibly successful and revolutionary E-commerce platform, uDroppy. They both studied at three different business schools, and graduated with one bachelor’s degree each, and an unusual two master’s degrees each. They have traveled the world and resided in multiple cities in their adult life, including Genova, Milan, Barcelona, New York, Canada, and currently both reside in Dubai.
They started as digital marketers while in university, and actually paid for their master’s degrees with the profits they generated from their marketing campaigns. They were able to creatively navigate the performance marketing world so successfully, that they were able to generate more than 7 figures in revenue before completing their last semester of college.
After university, they evolved into the E-commerce drop shipping world, where they continued their success, generating another 7 figures with their campaigns. The ability to generate consistent success through digital marketing helped them become influencers in the digital marketing industry, with thousands of young European entrepreneurs looking to them online for guidance and motivation. Their latest venture, uDroppy, is a revolutionary E-commerce platform that solves some of the largest pain points for one of the fastest growing and most profitable emerging global industries.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Luca: Everything started from a Direct Message on Instagram in June 2017. The message was sent from Orlando Vallelonga to Nicolo Manica. It was simple, it was saying “I have an idea that can change the affiliate marketing and e-commerce industry, let’s meet!”.
Nicolo: The idea that Orlando shared with me was great. A platform able to change the E-Commerce and Dropshipping industry. I immediately shared the idea with Luca. We were doing e-commerce and we had multiple stores running at the time. However, we knew there were problems in the way the whole industry was doing business, using as a partner a B2C platform not meant to be used like that (Aliexpress). Seen the potential, we decided to join forces with Orlando and go all-in with the project.
The concept was really simple at the beginning: creating a B2B platform that connects E-Commerce stores, both using dropshipping and warehouse business models, to suppliers.
In order to do that, we decided to get onboard the best profile to help in developing a platform. Carlo Bellati coming from both Oracle and Salesforce was the best fit. Carlo Bellati has always been a challenger and as soon as we explained the project to him, he was on board. Orlando, Luca and I have always been entrepreneurs, Carlo on his side had a great experience working as an insider into two tech giants. We all agreed Carlo should have been the CEO of the company.
Luca: Since then, thanks to the idea of Orlando, the network, the experience of Nicolo and I, the new vision born along with the corporate thinking of Carlo, we moved agile. In a few months uDroppy was born, becoming one of the fastest growing company of the digital industry. As per today, uDroppy is helping thousands of Ecommerce entrepreneurs to give the best customer experience to their customers.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Nicolo: The idea behind being an entrepreneur and a chief officer in a company is simple but extremely complex. The main role is defining a vision and then managing the team to embrace the same goals. However, everyday new problems and new issues arise. What I learned is that an entrepreneur main job is the one of solving problems and planning correctly the daily tasks. You have a team that relies on you and wait for your lead. You need to be their leader and, together with them, fighting to make your dream come true.
It is mandatory to plan your day carefully, plan the tasks of your team and ask for reports. Doing this, you know exactly how the company is performing and what you need to do to make things better.
Another part of the day is focusing on personal relationships, networking and trying to connect with new people online or offline at events and meetings. Luca and I have created what we have today thanks to our network and the people we know. It is important to connect even with more people because there is no limits to the joint-venture you can establish to scale your business to the moon.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Luca: When you look to successful people, everything seems so easy. Seems that they are where they are because they were already successful or have been lucky. The reality is different. Behind great people there are efforts, sacrifices and renunciations.
Only an intense commitment, hard work and a great plan can help you in bringing ideas into life. More than this, you need to partner with the bests in the industry to get their knowledge and experience on your side. You need to always listen to your customers feedbacks. At the end of the day the only boss an entrepreneur has is his customer.
Of course, during the journey you will make tons of mistakes, learning from them and applying the lessons on a daily base is part of the business.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Nicolo: E-commerce is a trend that can only grow during the next years, that’s why we started uDroppy. If you think about it, everyday new people join the internet and get connected. Those people are all new potential customers. US is not the only market for e-commerce anymore, which basically opens tons of new opportunities. Moreover, as people get lazier and operations improve, more people will start to switch to online shopping.
Luca: Nowadays customer centricity is also a key point with companies facing huge competition and I am really excited about that. I strongly believe that marketing is mostly about giving value to customers and those that do not understand this, will be out of the market soon. Just think about how much giants like Facebook and Google care about this topics. Most of the advertisers are having a big time now because of this. Those companies able to put the customer at the center of their operations and marketing campaigns will see incredible growth in the next years.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Luca: I found out to be really useful to write down on paper all the daily task and prioritize them according to their importance. Even if I use software for keeping track of all the tasks for the week, writing the ones for the day on paper helps me be laser focused on those.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Nicolo: I started my career with nothing. Luca and I have been able to create all our journey with less than 500€ as initial investment. Our first project was a success and helped us in building the foundations of our experience. However, following that experience, we have started creating so many partnerships in so many projects losing completely the focus on who we were and where we wanted to go.
Those months have been stressful and not really productive. Too many things to think about and too many resources to manage. We had to take a step back and to rethink our strategy. We canceled all our projects and we went back to just one, the one we were good at.
Since that experience, I learned that the most precious thing we have is time and time is defined by 16 workable hours per day. It is mandatory for every entrepreneur to use those hours on the most profitable tasks.
The idea is to focus on one thing and make the most out of it, you will feel you are missing something but don’t worry, opportunities come and go every day.
Furthermore be ready for any possible issue, always have a plan B but don’t stop, have also a Plan C, D and so on. Business life can be unexpected, be ready for every inconvenience.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Luca: When you are online, surfing the internet or just scrolling your newsfeed you see one myth followed by almost everybody. I am talking about the so called “passive income opportunities”. Basically revenue streams that, once settled, keep generating money for you forever. These opportunities are usually rich quick schemes, scam or pyramids aiming to attract the masses. They usually promise fast money in exchange of an upfront investment.
However, what I learned, is that there is not such a thing. Of course you can build streams of income that are automatic, but you have to work hard for years to build companies able to sustain the constant changes in the market and keep innovating. You need to hire good managers able to keep on track with your vision. But again, this is not forever. Expect the unexpected they say.
Forget about working 2 weeks and enjoying life on a beach forever, go down, hustle hard everyday and you will be rewarded on the long term.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Nicolo: The most important lesson is the one you will learn tomorrow. What I mean by this is the fact that your journey will be characterized by mistakes, a lot of mistakes. Every new mistake, from wrong partnerships to wrong decisions, from wrong people hired to bad strategies, are going to give you a lesson. The key is always analyze the mistake, learn the lesson and move on. Remember, the expert is the one who did the largest number of mistakes.
Another thing that I think is true but clearly not estimated enough is the importance of money and efforts. Do not waste your initial earnings but keep reinvesting them. Don’t buy things you don’t need or go on fabulous vacations. Vacations are for those who have already accomplished their goals.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Luca: attending three different business schools helped Nicolo and I a lot. It happens often that entrepreneurs say college/university is a waste of money and time. We do not believe so. Business schools gave us a perspective on business that anything else can give. That’s why we manage to move fast and profitable in industries where people take years to achieve results. In business schools we also learned the power of real relationship networking.
Networking is an art since you have to be really involved in each single relationship you want to build. Everytime we attended conferences or we met people during the past years we took home something: may it be a skill, a strategy, an advice or a new point of view! The key of networking is not only taking something, but also always giving back something to your interlocutor, doing this you will have a connection forever!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Nicolo: During our business career we had many failures. Analyzing these failures today, we understand it was not about a wrong concept or a bad business idea. It was about a bad execution driven by a low level of focus. We literally splitted our focus across way too many projects at the same time.
Luca: realizing we could not do everything at the same time we had to find a solution. The two solutions we found were probably the most obvious ones:
we cut everything that was to core to our competences
we started to delegate task to managers
When you read somewhere that focus is key, it’s true.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Nicolo: If I were to start everything again from scratch I would definitely go for a branded E-Commerce. I would define a niche according to something I am passionate about. I need the passion to work daily and give myself goals accordingly. Once I have defined the different niches I can build something great in, I would use Dropshipping to test products out! Then, after defining which products are selling I recommend to create a proper brand around that products, start buying in bulk to lower the unit costs and leverage media buying with influencer marketing to grow the sales.
I believe everyone can approach an E-Commerce business like that. It is simple, riskless and does not require a big capital to start!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Luca: The best $ 100 we spent were on a dinner with a potential partner. The conversation was really good and the opportunities limitless. Most people think that the only way to build a successful business is through huge investments and daily work, underestimating the power of establish real and truthful relationships. Also the word “networking” is really bad to me. It indicates just an interest driven relationship built on mutual advantages. I strongly believe in the power of real relationships that go beyond the business world. As a consequence, they also add value to the business.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Nicolo: I really need to have everything under control. That’s why I imposed everyone in our team to use both Asana and Slack to keep track of tasks and chats. These two software, combined, literally changed everything in our business. Not only our team is much more efficient in doing the job, but also we as managers have the ability to spot flaws and adjust them before they might become something dangerous for the business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Luca: I have never understood why while all my friends just wanted to party and have fun while my mind was obsessed with business and opportunities. Even while out with friends my thoughts were always about business. “How can I create the next Apple? How can I build a world changing business?”, I was literally obsessed. That’s why when I discovered Grant Cardone’s Best Seller I realized I was not crazy, I just did not want to be average.
Nicolo: I love reading business books and biographies of successful entrepreneurs. When I found out about Grant’s book: “Be Obsessed or Be Average” I literally changed the way I approach the daily tasks. If you want to change the world you have to be the first person that think is possible, and with that book I understood I can really make an impact. This book changed our lives for the better.
What is your favorite quote?
Luca: I have a quote that I personally love and that helps me taking action every single day, even for those things I believe to be useless in that moment. This quote is from Steve Jobs and states:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
The quote that motivates me the most is the one that pushes me harder everyday and keeps me hustling hard. It is too simple to rely on achievements, the bests are always looking further to the next one, in fact: “There is no finish line”
- Focus on a single project
- Network with the best!
- Invest in yourself
- Be customer oriented
- Do mistakes, learn, repeat
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.