5 examples of successful startups for inspiration focused around the world and how it is constantly growing. This does not mean that creating and carrying out a start-up project is easy. In fact, the success of a company often starts with an innovative idea, which must, however, be studied and transformed into a well-thought-out and organized business plan. A brilliant idea alone is not enough, it must then be transformed into reality with the necessary skills.
There are several factors to be considered and analyzed in order to understand whether intuition can become and be confirmed as a long-term winning idea. The best successful start-ups have a capacity for adaptation, thanks to which they manage to evolve and transform themselves over time, so as to expand more and more and gain market share.
These are interesting examples from which to draw inspiration for building one’s own profitable and up-to-date business. But when can a start-up be considered successful? I will explain this in this article. In particular, I will tell you about:
- what a start-up is and when it can be considered innovative,
- 5 examples of the best Italian start-ups,
- some innovative companies in the world.
As you read on, you will discover the key factors that characterize successful start-ups. If you too have an idea that you have been wanting to turn into a business for some time, as well as taking inspiration from these examples, a great step towards your success could be to enroll in the Start-Up Program, a master’s program to help you launch your own innovative start-up in the field of Digital Marketing.
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What is a successful start-up and how it is created
A successful start-up respects some very important characteristics: innovation, temporariness, scalability, and replicability. What is a start-up? By definition, a start-up is an innovative enterprise that sets out to solve a problem that until then had never had a solution. It is also a company that is in its initial phase of life, has a business model, and, above all, has a good potential to expand rapidly.
Innovation underpins all the best successful start-ups. They are born to bring an advantage over what already exists, to offer a solution to a problem or need that had never been met. Of course, they are also temporary, as being a “start-up” means being in an initial phase, i.e. a transitory moment of the company that then grows and, in the best of cases, becomes a large enterprise.
Scalability is the potential for the company to grow on a large scale even with the few resources available to it at this early stage. The replicability of a start-up, on the other hand, is the viability of its business model to any context, i.e. the possibility of being replicable in other time periods and geographical areas, without major changes.
In addition, beyond having an innovative idea, to create a successful start-up it is important to have a valid and well-organized business model, implemented by a suitable team with people who are both competent and, above all, enthusiastic about the project. Having the funds and being able to make investments is necessary at least for the start-up.
Timing is also a factor to be considered: you have to find the best timing to take your idea forward when the market can give you a positive response. Concretely, in order to start a start-up, the first step is to open a VAT number, register with the Business Register, and join INAIL.
An effective strategy to adopt, especially in the early stages of a start-up, is to have a risk management plan. In this way, it is possible to limit the effects that risk factors in the business and market may have on the start-up. Being online is now a prerequisite for the success of a start-up.
5 examples of successful startups
How many innovative start-ups are there? They are diverse and growing in number. Every year new ones continue to make their way into the world. The concept of start-ups began to develop in 2008, but it is now so familiar to everyone that we are now witnessing an unprecedented boom in growth and innovation. In fact, by 2021, there will be more than 14,000 registered start-ups.
The largest number of successful start-ups is in Lombardy and in particular in Milan, a province followed by Rome, the only one with similar numbers to the Lombard capital. Italian start-ups largely favor the service sector, while other common sectors are crafts, industry, and trade.
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Casavo is a successful startup that was born in Milan in 2017 from the idea of its founder, Giorgio Tinacci. The sector is real estate. In fact, the service consists of an online platform where you can sell and buy a house very quickly. The goal is to find a buyer in 30 days or with a maximum of 2 house visits.
This platform is a revolution in real estate instant buying. Thanks to algorithms, it is able to provide a property value immediately, which is then confirmed or modified by Casavo’s experts following an inspection. For those who want to buy a house, the portal is very simple: just go to the site and browse through the virtual showcase.
After establishing itself in the Milan area, this start-up has expanded its reach to Rome, Turin, Florence, Bologna, Verona, and even Madrid, thus also entering the foreign market.
This is the start-up of the moment in the photography industry. BOOM Imagestudio was founded in Milan in 2018 by founders Federico Mattia Dolci, Giacomo Grattirola, and Jacopo Benedetti, who harnessed artificial intelligence to make their platform a fast and effective service. In fact, on BOOM you can book a photo shoot and within a very short time (even minutes) have a local professional photographer assigned to you, wherever you are.
Artificial intelligence is also used in the subsequent steps, thanks to which the customer will receive the photographs in less than 24 hours after the session and in very high quality.
Another of the most successful startups is Credimi, a fintech founded, a fintech founded in 2015 by CEO Ignazio Rocco di Torrepadula. This digital platform was born with the idea of specializing in digital financing for businesses. Thanks to Credimi, it is possible to obtain loans and credits more easily and quickly. In fact, all you have to do is upload your invoice on the site, and within a few days, you will be notified by the app whether or not your loan has been accepted by Credimi.
No guarantees, membership fees, or subscriptions are required. The only cost is the all-inclusive, commission-free quote. Afterward, you receive the money in your current account in less than 48 hours. A big goal of this start-up is to be more and more of a reference for small and micro enterprises.
Satispay is the brainchild of three guys from Cuneo, Alberto Dalmasso, Dario Brignone, and Samuele Pinta, who in 2013 developed this platform for digital payment and money transfer via the Internet. In 2015, the Satispay application was born, thanks to which it is possible to pay online and in affiliated shops, exchange money with other people, make phone top-ups and donations, and pay bills.
There is a version of the app for private individuals and also one for businesses. The platform works by setting a budget and not a credit or debit card. For it to work, one has to set a weekly budget, which cannot be more than EUR 200, and link one’s bank account to Satispay. In 2020, Satispay reached one million active users.
Among the examples of innovative start-ups, Milkman also deserves a place. This startup in the logistics sector was born in Verona from the idea of Antonio Perini and Tommaso Baù in 2015. In particular, this delivery service was created with the aim of focusing on the “last mile” of e-commerce. In fact, the software they use makes it possible to customize home delivery, allowing the user to choose the day and time of delivery, so as to be of help to those who buy online but are very often not at home.
Milkman achieved its big breakthrough in 2020 when the pandemic led to considerable growth in e-commerce. This brought it to the attention of one of Italy’s largest companies, Poste Italiane, which decided to buy it. To date, the service has expanded to several Italian cities and Poste Italiane will take control of the newco Mlk Deliveries and the management of the technology for Italy, while Milkman will continue to develop its technology to offer it to other sectors and foreign countries.
Examples of innovative start-ups in the world
There are successful start-ups around the world that are well-known realities, which started out as an idea between friends, and then initially became innovative start-ups and, finally, large enterprises. Just as in Italy, globally there continues to be considerable growth of start-ups in recent years, both in their success and in the amount of new innovative companies launched.
The key to the success of these realities is that at their base they always have the characteristics I mentioned earlier, and of course, the innovation that each new company brings to the market plays an important role. This is increasingly supported by new technologies and a business plan strongly linked to digital.
Among the very successful large enterprises, it is well known that many were born on American soil. In particular, it is well known that several successful start-ups have sprung up in Silicon Valley, California, which is known as a very important area for high-tech companies. In fact, some names of companies founded there that you will be very familiar with are Apple, Facebook, Google, and Tesla.
In the following, I will tell you about some US-born giants that have evolved from successful start-ups into world-class giants.
The innovative idea of a successful start-up like Airbnb was born in 2007 by two young roommates from San Francisco, who, during an important event held in the city, the meeting of the Industrial Designer Society of America, thought of renting out a room in their flat to people who were looking for accommodation without success, due to the hotels being sold out. In this way, roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia could also solve their difficulties in paying rent.
They got their first customers and after noticing that the idea could work and be successful, they hired a young programmer, Nathan Blecharchzyk, to go from a simple WordPress webpage to a well-developed platform. After raising the funds, the start-up from Air Bed & Breakfast became Airbnb in 2009, started to find investors, and began its rebranding.
People began to use the service more and more and realized how beneficial it could also be for their own income, renting out their homes or rooms in their flats. Thus in 2011, Airbnb began to be known worldwide, reaching as many as 89 countries. Today, the name of what was then a start-up has practically become synonymous with the type of service it offers.
Around the same time, two other Americans came up with the idea for the start-up that rather challenged the monopoly of traditional taxis. Garret Camp and Travis Kalanick, finding themselves in Paris looking for a taxi that was unavailable after a conference, imagined the usefulness of an app that could put them in touch with all the cars that passed through that area, many of which were probably going in the same direction as they, who were not self-drivers, were supposed to go.
Thus was born their innovative start-up, which at an early stage took the name UberCab, later to become Uber in 2011. The start-up started with an initial investment of $250,000 and went on to realize assets of around $65 billion, later expanding worldwide and also into other market sectors (thanks, for example, Uber Eats). Uber, like Airbnb, was founded and is based in San Francisco.
More or less always in those years, another innovative and interesting reality was born, this time however in Chicago. The story of the successful Groupon start-up began, in fact, in other large cities in the north-east of the United States: the first steps were taken in Chicago in 2008, and then expanded to Boston, New York, and Toronto (in Canada). Groupon was born a little differently from the realities I have already told you about.
Andrew Mason was a university student who in his spare time was actually involved in running network start-ups. Together with his employer Eric Lefkofsky, they only launched Groupon after realizing that another project called Point, with the aim of bringing people together in the name of a cause, could not work. So, in 2008, they thought of bringing groups of people together, but to make collective purchases.
They practically launched a “social commerce” where they asked small American companies for major discounts in exchange for very large groups of consumers. After managing to sell the first coupons and make the first “deals”, the rise of Mason and his new start-up began, which grew to 10 million members within a few years.
In recent years, with the evolution of the Internet, Italians are increasingly oriented towards starting new entrepreneurial activities, such as successful start-ups, moving away from the standard employee. The entrepreneur of a digital start-up works from the comfort of his or her own PC, wherever they are in the world, and does so while earning money! And who wouldn’t want such a career? I think this is the dream of most Italians.
Massimiliano Squillace, one of the most important pioneers of the Italian Web, founder of Nextone Media, and publisher of a large network of sites worldwide, tells us how he founded his successful start-up.
What are the 3 characteristics that make a start-up successful?
The 3 main characteristics are:
- Team: in my opinion, this is the main feature. The strong team wins over the strong idea. People who have skills and who have the idea to create a start-up will almost certainly succeed.
- Market: in Italy, we are used to thinking small, but that is not what happens in Silicon Valley. Here, every successful start-up has to last. Therefore, you have to think of the biggest possible market, within which the new emerging business can solve everyone’s needs.
- Alignment: our start-up must represent us, it must therefore have our ethical, fun, and spiritual sense. The moment a start-up truly represents us, it will be much easier to achieve success. So do not “jump” into launching companies that do not represent you, otherwise, it will be difficult to make them successful.
The characteristics of a successful entrepreneur?
One of the main characteristics, which I emphasize in my book, is optimism because the entrepreneur has to think positively and try to overcome difficulties. When you create a start-up you only have a 5% chance of making it successful, but we optimists don’t care. The entrepreneur must have the courage to move forward and be flexible.
This also happened with my company, because we often started with an idea and then realized that it was not the right one. But we managed to improve it on the run and bring it to success. Other key characteristics are:
- tolerance of risk: the entrepreneur, in addition to doing intelligent and rational activities, often has to take risks and attempt aggressive, illegal, and risky activities. For example, if we consider Uber or Airbnb, we see that there are no rules determining whether they are legal or illegal. In this case, the entrepreneur must “jump into the game” and not be afraid to break the rules;
- A good entrepreneur must be visionary, that is, he must be able to anticipate the future. I will tell you a little negative anecdote that happened to us: 10 years ago we were offered to invest in a company that made ringtones for mobile phones, a market that had “exploded” in Europe, but not in the US, where mobile phones were not widespread. Therefore, we thought that the US was not ready for this type of market. Actually, after a year, mobile phone ringtones exploded there as well, and the same company was sold for $100 million. Probably, if we had invested today, we would have been a bit richer!
How did the Nextone Media idea come about?
Nextone Media was born in ’98 and is now more than 15 years old. Today we have offices in Milan, London, and Miami. We started in Milan, specifically in my parent’s bedroom. It all started because, in ’97-’98, if you wanted to have a website and a domain in Italy, you had to be an engineer or a billionaire. Unfortunately, I was neither, and I had to import from the United States the model of Internet hosting and domains, which is still the most widespread in Italy today.
It was a great success, because at that time I was 20 years old, and with my partner, we managed to have 10,000 client companies within a year. To tell the truth, it had not been so easy to manage all those companies at that age. In 2001 we sold our company, Hosting3000, to the French multinational Prosidie, and it still carries our brand today. From there we grew more and more.
Within 10 years we had achieved quite a large network, with offices all over the world. After the sale of Hosting3000, we opened our current company in London, which, as in almost all start-ups, was born to solve a problem. In our case, the problem in Italy was that nobody could get a website without breaking the bank. And we tried to solve it.
How do you help start-ups become successful companies?
Besides work and passion, you have to surround yourself with the right people to work together. But also know how to have fun and therefore work on projects that you enjoy, otherwise, they will be short-lived. Start with an idea and do your best to make it grow.
What added value does a start-up find in receiving funding from investors?
Today, in Italy, it is easier for a new company to seek investment from Angel Investors, i.e. individuals who decide to believe in a project. In the United States, compared to Italy, the subject of Venture Capital, i.e. investment funds, is much broader.
In any case, a start-up often needs funds from Angel Investors or Venture Capital in order to function. From my own experience, I have always preferred to work with the former, but there are still plenty of entrepreneurs who have sold to investment funds and had great success.
The former gives more freedom, in the sense that they put a percentage in the company, but then the entrepreneur manages everything independently. Venture capitalists, on the other hand, have to do analysis and need more steps, and of course, they offer more money. For greater scalability, I think the latter is the right way to go.
Conclusions and strategic coaching
In this article, I explained how to start a successful start-up and what the characteristics of a winning project are. If you, too, have an idea and have been wanting to turn it into reality for some time, remember to start with the concepts of innovation, temporariness, scalability, and replicability and surround yourself with the right team, making sure you have the necessary resources to get your start-up off the ground.
All these factors will be decisive in drawing up the best business plan for your new company and its growth. Innovative start-ups are constantly developing and increasing in Italy and around the world, and I hope that the examples of successful start-ups I have told you about may have inspired you to throw yourself into your adventure and bring a brilliant new idea to the market.
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