Forbes Italy Top 100 Under 30 2021 ranked an ESCP Master in Management student as one of the young leaders doing great things in the Venture Capital sector: Riccardo Angioli.
He is the youngest talent in his category, nominated when he hadn't yet celebrated his 23rd birthday.
In 2019, Riccardo co-founded, with Roberto Sfoglietta, Starting Finance Deal, a company that connects start-ups looking for funds, with investors.
The same year he started studying at ESCP Business School. After the pre-master year at the Turin Campus, he attended the Digital Project Management specialisation in Madrid. In September, he will move to the Paris Campus for the Option E specialisation.
Riccardo’s entrepreneurial success proves that you're never too young to make a difference, and it is never too early to follow your dreams of starting your own business.
We chatted with him to find out more about this significant accomplishment, his start-ups and future projects.
First of all, congratulations for making it into Forbes Italy's Top 100 under 30. It is an outstanding achievement. What was the first thing that went through your mind when you heard that you were on this influential list?
When I received the news, it was completely unexpected. When I was told, only two weeks before it was published, that I would be featured in the magazine I thought it was a joke, but after I received the pictures of the previews, what had been a dream for me actually become a reality. Ever since I started working it was a dream of mine to make it into Forbes even if it was at 29. I never thought I could reach this in the short-term. In particular, what’s really special to me is the fact that I made it in the Venture Capital section at 22, which is something that made me feel that all the sacrifices that I have made in the past few years have been worth it. I have always worked out of a pure passion for this industry and the thing I care about most is that my achievement could boost the company’s position in this sector and increase the credibility and trust of our investors and customers.
In 2019, at only 20 and in less than one year, you co-founded three start-ups and started your Master in Management at ESCP. What motivated you to embrace so many challenges all at the same time?
Certainly embracing so many projects was a big risk. In fact, before these ultimate successes I failed many times, for example when I tried to establish my first start-up at 17 in Napa Valley. Despite major set-backs I faced during my first year in Venture Capital I always had a strong desire to create something of my own. My passion drove me to the point of setting aside everything that didn’t involve my studies or commitment to work. Setting out on this path at such an early stage in my life took up all of my free time given that I was also studying. It's a matter of passion, ambition, prioritisation, and circumstances.
You made it into the Forbes Italy's annual "100 Under 30" list as co-founder of Starting Finance Deal, an investment and consultancy company for start-ups. What led you to the creation and success of this firm?
I realised that in Italy, there is a lack of capital for early-stage companies. Therefore, I decided to establish Starting Finance Deal. I am thrilled that after starting out with only 4, the group now counts 39 people, with a Club of more than 150 Angel Investors, and more than 6 Million € invested in the last 12 months. Today we are divided into the following departments: Sales, Analysis, Marketing, Graphics, Deal Flow, and Administration. Our growth has not been linear. Despite our success, we have had our fair share of ups and downs. The trust of the first customers and investors allowed us to believe in what we were doing. Our success is determined by the excellent team; I think we have done a fantastic job at choosing the right people and motivating them during the worst moments, as we did during the first two months of the pandemic. Also, I believe that the other three co-founders and I have achieved an excellent ability to minimise errors and always find a solution to the problems we encounter.
Only a few months later, you co-founded TAC. What prompted you to open another start-up while Starting Finance Deal was growing rapidly?
Actually, the idea for TAC formed in April 2019, before the one for Starting Finance Deal. However, it did require a deeper study and more time to set it up it in the way we envisioned. When we founded Starting Finance Deal I never thought that it would become a bigger business than TAC. Anyhow, you can tell that things went differently. While TAC required more time before entering the market because of the software development, Starting Finance Deal began to produce revenue immediately, and it never stopped growing. We are establishing two incubators (one in Rome and one in Perugia) and working on launching an investment vehicle that goes beyond the angels club.
On the other hand, TAC was launched on the market for B2C customers only two months ago, after one and a half years of development, and it will enter the B2B market next month.
In what way did what you learn at ESCP help you to achieve your goals?
ESCP is among the most prestigious universities in Europe. The opportunity to choose among various specialisations and to study in a different city every semester is something most universities can’t offer. ESCP programmes broaden your horizons and force you to think outside the box, which is very useful to students that have never left their hometown before. In particular, I am happy about the focus of ESCP on soft skills. These are what helped me the most in my working career. Prioritisation, in particular, is something that I have unfortunately learned very recently. Since then, managing my work and my entire life has been more comfortable and less stressful.
What advice would you give to a young talent interested in becoming a Venture Capitalist?
For those who are interested in becoming Venture Capitalists, I suggest prioritising short and medium term goals and deciding what they are aiming to achieve first. Conquering space and credibility in this sector is challenging and requires more effort than one may imagine in the beginning. Therefore, it is necessary to move forward with consciousness, determination, and courage, especially if you are young and dealing with people who have decades of experience behind them.
What are the main challenges that you foresee for your generation?
The main challenge my generation faces today is the lack of credibility young people tend to receive when they have ambitious plans. This is why I strongly believe that the gap between our generation and the previous ones should be bridged. This is what we aim to do at Starting Finance Deal, at least in the Venture Capital sector. We started our business with only 2.500€ each. It is very rare to be able to start a company with such a small amount of money as most require a large amount of equity capital which is hard to achieve for young people today. I expect more collaboration between the different generations to achieve a general harmony which is lacking today.
What's next for you?
I will be completing my Master in Management at ESCP in 2022, and after that, I expect to continue my entrepreneurial career by creating new start-ups, which is my passion. I aim to generate businesses that are more and more efficient, but with less frenzy and one at a time to have more time for myself.
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