Today we interview Riccardo Zanussi, founder of listiamo, a social network for lists. But the team's aim is much higher than social lists. According to Zanussi, the team wants to change the daily deals landscape. Listiamo originates from Barcelona. The four founders started their project to accurately curate the lists in social platforms on May 6, 2012 and boostrapped the company for fewer than 100.000 euros. According to Zanussi, "We all have daytime jobs, so we used nights and weekends to make our dream a reality. We want to go faster and faster to be in all the countries of the world."
You can connect with the team after this interview on their Facebook Page.
Brief description of the application, according to Zanussi:
"Listiamo is the best way to create, discover, share and collaborate in lists of objects, emotions, suggestions and any other type of items Listiamo is the social network of lists: lists are for Listiamo what photos are for Instagram or Tweet for Twitter. In Listiamo you can make list of every things you have in mind and discover lists of other users can be useful for you. You can copy other users’ lists in your area, change them and share them with your friend to collaborate with them or just for fun. You can have private list or public list or extremely public lists where all the users of Listiamo can participate. You can comment, “LIKE” and follow users, lists and items. Shops can make offers for the items in the lists (without knowing the identity of the user). Physical shops can use the postal code of the users to make offers only to the people near the location of the shop."
Microsoft technologies in their build: Azure, Visual Studio, SQL Server.
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
Really, these are the same: An Internet company cannot think to make money without thinking of scaling. That doesn’t mean that we make things fully scalable from the beginning, but we have to take care not to put big obstacles to scalability. IE: we built Listiamo as Multi-language ready from the beginning. Not doing so would be cost a lot more to do it in the future. You have to think bit and act small, according to money and time restrictions, But don’t close doors to scalability.
Do you make reasonable predictions about how you are going to achieve revenue and then test them out, or do you start with a business model and deploy it, to see if it brings in revenue?
We started with a business model (to be more precise, it was really a hypothesis about users' behaviors), then we deployed it and to see how it’s working. You can call it “agile in product”. Fast iterations, fast changes and a lot of ideas
What questions do you think a startup non-technical founder needs to answer when considering a cloud architecture for his or her startup, and I am thinking specifically here during the business model generation period?
Just one question: How much do we need to scale? Any other question is already answered and the answer is: go to the cloud.
What questions do you and your technical co-founder / engineering team feel are the most important to solve about the business aspects of your company?
How easy is to deploy? How easy is it to scale? Is it easy to change the code? How much of the code is safe?
Where do you include technical members of your team during the building of your business plan?
We include technical members in every part of the decision process. We are an Internet company and technical part is the basis of our business. Without the technical opinion simply we cannot build, think and dream any part of the business.
How much of what you are building is based on leaving a legacy and how much of it is based on technical challenges, or the ability to make something just for fun? In other words, where do you fall on the seriousness scale? For fun, for profit, for life?
Obviously when we speak about startups, everybody hope to be next Twitter or Pinterest. But don’t forget the fun factor: we are putting ourselves in a world on fast changes, less private life, continuous worries not just for money. We want to build something big to show ourselves that we can do it
When did you decide that you were “startup material”?
When I started to be bored by my normal job, I knew. I was the CTO of one of the biggest Internet companies in Spain with more than 100 people in my department, but I missed the excitation, the speed, the freedom to build something that you like and put all that you have in it.
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
Enormous: we want take the world of the Daily Deals and change it forever. We give to the physical and online commerce the possibility to make offers with the price they want and with the quantity they want for the period they want
What are some of the challenges you face as a founder or developer at a startup, when it comes to dealing with family life, or socially? Does working on a startup change the way you associate and interact in these areas?
Family is the most important thing in my life: I have a wife and a daughter and dedicate them the same time of before. I subtract time from my social life (and from my sleep time….).
What characteristics do you possess that make you an entrepreneur? What makes your startup a startup?
- Ability to think, try and learn from failures and successes.
- Don’t be afraid to change opinion after facts
- Make the team working together choosing the right organization with the right places for the people
- Will to risk and will to think “out off the beaten paths”
- Total, absolute determination to make it work
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
I always used Microsoft product judging them the best for development and production. When Bizspark program started, I knew that it was the missing pieces to start my startup. And I was right: Bizspark unified the best product in the world with the right price scheme for a startup
More – when Azure reached a point of maturation – the scenario was perfect: the easiness of build, deploy and scale you Internet product is one of the key factor for the success
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Because you have the best INTEGRATED products of the world. The word INTEGRATED is the key. Maybe some features that are better in other products, but you have to spend a lot of time to make them work and at the end you build not robust things: any new point version can destroy your job. In Microsoft, you are in an integrated world. Things are working
Tell us about your Azure based solution.
We started with a Spanish cloud solution but there were a lot of pain. So we decided to move to Azure and it was really an easy move. For the European privacy law we decided to use Dublin for our VMs.
How is Azure implemented in your solution?
We choose to build thing with two VM: one for the web server and one for the SQL Server. I spent many hours with the profiler and I want to have the possibility to use this experience to make web application fast. More, we can scale easily for the web server (add one or more servers and put the session information on the cache) and easily for the SQL (divide the database and – for next step – federate them)
How did you get excited about Azure?
In my former job I managed 300 physical server: any upgrade had to be schedules three months before. Now I can scale in minutes. First time I tried, almost cried of joy.
What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
Immediate scalability, immediate availability of new server, no need of system administrators
What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
Do it, don’t think more on it. It is a business need not a technical need