Lorenzo Viscanti is a serial entrepreneur. He participated in the creation of Wikio, in 2006. Later, in 2008, he launched the tech agency Mikamai, which was sold in 2011. Its current startup is Mapendo, a bootstrapped advertising platform focused on mobile services. Based in Bologna, a city with strong academic roots and fame tied to the automotive industry, now home of interesting tech companies, Lorenzo answered our questions about the company, the product and shared with us some thoughts about a startup vc needs and growth.
FinSMEs: Lorenzo, what’s Mapendo? Which problem do you solve?
Lorenzo: We are an advertising platform for mobile services.
We are surrounded by apps that promise us to deliver food, buy tickets or even find for us the love of our life. App developers want us to download their app, of course, but that is just the beginning. They also want us to use their app; that is, they want us to order pizza, buy a ticket or chat with that beautiful girl we want to date.
We guarantee that app developers meet the right clients, the ones that want to order a pizza at home or buy exactly what the app is selling.
We help clients find useful apps, and developers to make revenues.
FinSMEs: Have you found a huge market?
Lorenzo: Do you remember long lines (and fights) in the stores for Black Friday? More shopping has been made online this year than in physical stores. And that doesn’t count digital services such as travel reservations, dating or the huge gaming sector.
We help companies generate more revenues through smartphones. The market is huge, especially if you look at big and developing countries such as Brazil, Mexico and India.
And more than one billion people will get online only using their smartphones in the next few years, especially in Africa.
FinSMEs: Where is mapendo today in terms of growth? Can you give us some figures?
Lorenzo: We are generating six figure revenues in more than 50 countries, we are building a global company from our country, Italy. Our strongest markets are in Northern Europe, the US and Latin America.
We are grown into one of the biggest startups in Italy in terms of revenues, even if we have a team with less than 10 people.
FinSMEs: You bootstrapped the company and haven’t raised funding. What’s your own vision related to external capital raise?
Lorenzo: Do you want to know the truth? Everything started so quickly that we didn’t have the time to think about raising money.
In the end this turned to be good for us.
I’d suggest to test your business model, generate the first revenues and then think about financing. If you already have revenues when you look for money, this obviously helps in terms of your business’ valuation. To create an useful technology or an appealing service you don’t have to waste too much time on slides, presentations or meetings with investors.
Focus on your idea and on how you implement it at the beginning, then you can move your focus to raise VC money. We are growing our business and at the same time we work to raise some money.
FinSMEs: You are in Bologna, where the startup ecosystem is fast growing. What can you tell us?
Lorenzo: Even if you don’t know Bologna as a city, you are probably dreaming of luxury cars or motorcycles made in or near Bologna, such as Ducati and Lamborghini (to those among the readers who actually own one of them, drop me a line and let’s go for a ride together!). But that is not enough, in the future we will use more and more digital services. And we want to become an important digital ecosystem. Obviously we’re not London or Berlin, but there are a lot of interesting companies in Bologna. Among others, I want to highlight Shopfully, chebuoni.it, Kopjra and Tickete. I bet on some of you using their services in the next months.