Could you explain what 20Lines is?
20lines is the best place to write, read and share short wonderful short stories. Our goal is to connect readers with thousands of free stories written by talented emerging authors who want to build and increase their reputation online.
20lines is both web and mobile and it currently counts a community of more than 100k writers and readers and 30k published stories.
How did you come to the idea of 20Lines?
Previously to 20lines, I used to work in a big consulting company. I was working long hours and I never had time to dedicate myself to my real passion: reading. I realized that long books required a too big commitment for me as I only had time to read for 5-10 minutes when commuting in the morning or before going to bed at night. I felt that many of people had this same problem so I thought that it would have been amazing to have access to a platform where you could find a lot of free short stories that are perfect for those 5-10 spare minutes you have during the day.
How does your company find financing?
As of today, 20lines has raised $800k from Italian investors.
At the end of 2012 we developed a first version of the platform and we applied to an incubator. They liked the project and the team so they decided to invest in us. That was the first step that helped us grow and build our reputation. 9 months later, after the community started growing and we had some interesting metrics to present, we received our second investment from a big Venture Capital Fund which enabled us to expand the team and grow the project internationally.
According to you, what has been the biggest challenge for 20Lines?
As a startup, we face big challenges everyday. It’s like living on a roller coaster: one day everything works well, the community grows, you get interest from media and investors and you feel on the top of the world, the next day you have to fight to keep users engaged, you are running out of money and the platform has bugs to be fixed. It’s important to keep motivation and focus everyday in order to meet the goals you’ve set for your project.
Why are you expanding your company to San Francisco?
San Francisco is the startup land. We have achieved great results in Italy and we feel we can export our model to new countries so we decided to start with the US as it is often the place where new trends are born. At the same time, we know we can learn a lot by being part of the startup community here; talking to inspiring people who are facing the same challenges as we are or those who already succeeded. Finally, we want to raise a new round of financing in the next months and the amount of money that is invested here every year in tech companies is considerably more than in any other place in the world.
What are your plans for the near future for you company?
As I said, we want to grow the company internationally. Our main focus is the community: we are currently active in 4 main countries (US, Mexico, Italy and France) but we want to appeal to all people that are passionate about writing and reading all over the world. That’s why we want to raise money, in order to improve our technology, hire new collaborators and expand our operations.
What did you do before 20Lines?
I graduated in Business and Finance in Milan and then I decided to take a Masters in International Management in Barcelona. In 2010 I started working in J.P. Morgan but after one year I realized that it was not what I wanted to do in my life. So I moved in consulting, I joined The Boston Consulting Group, where I worked for 9 months until I decided to dedicate myself entirely to the creation and development of 20lines.
Do you feel your young age has any influence on starting your own company?
I don’t think so. There are many entrepreneurs that are even younger than me and some of them have built amazing projects. It’s really important to build a great team around you and have them share your vision. Only in that way, you will be able to convince investors and pursue the ambitious goals you have set.
How would you describe yourself as an entrepreneur?
This is a very hard question. In general my philosophy is that people come first: if you have a good team and you work well together than you literally have no limits. As a matter of facts, I believe that ideas are important but what really makes the difference is the execution and that’s all about the team.
What advice could you give to any entrepreneur staring a business like yours?
- Be passionate
- Find the right people to work with
- Try fast and fail faster
- Follow numbers and not only intuitions
- Have fun !