Online vs offline? Different strategies, but shared goals

NewsFromThePlatform | November 11th, 2015

We have been among the first Italian advocates of the message that digital technologies, new ideas and new businesses are essential to Italy’s economic fabric. They can bring innovation even to already brilliant entrepreneurship which is sometimes too focused on itself. Indeed those who, thanks to their fresh vision, have transformed the field of communication through social networks, mobility through carpooling, accommodation through home hospitality platforms, and so on, were mostly under 30 when they did it.

To “do” Venture Capital means to know, select, support and advice the best new companies, but it also means that you are experienced enough to foresee the physiological “flaws” that a young company, designed by young entrepreneurs, brings along with its precious bag of enthusiasm and fresh look on business.

Because young talents have brilliant minds and promising enterprise skills, but might benefit from the years of experience and knowledge that offline businesses have built over time through long-lasting relationships not only with consumers, but also with the rest of the industry. Without this, young entrepreneurs risk to “reinvent the wheel” in setting some processes, or to be naïve in their approach to the market.

According to our bustling observation point, the most widespread area of inexperience is the tendency to focus on an idea while forgetting that, in order to work, ideas should come along with a whole company around them. And companies are like training athletes: they must not only improve a specific technical movement, but also practice other sports, follow a diet or study other athletes, present and past champions.

Too often, new companies have a healthy obsession for their product, but they tend to forget that the product is there to be sold. A company needs to help its team grow, train them and encourage them, it needs to report their results in order to have access to more funding, it needs to be good at telling investors how the company has developed over time. These activities have always existed in traditional companies, who are like older champions – new businesses can watch and learn from them.

The job of a Venture Capitalist is to make the best of every innovation, investing not just money but also time, training and coaching the new companies with the aim of turning them into the big businesses of tomorrow. This is why VCs are carriers of innovation and “integrated” disruption: they dialogue with a market that has developed through many years and has its own features, traditions, points of excellence – especially in Italy.

In short, young companies that enter new markets, which are grappling with the transformation of models and consumer needs, could take advantage from looking back at traditional, “offline” business: the present and the future are digital but humanity is still largely analogical.