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Alessandro De Grandi: I Think That What Makes Me Stand Out as an Entrepreneur Is My Passion for Challenges: I’ve Always Wanted To Create Something New

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Alessandro De Grandi

Alessandro De Grandi of The Nemesis.

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Alessandro, I’m 41 and I come from Italy. I live and work in Switzerland, although I make frequent business trips throughout Europe and America. I’m the founder of The Nemesis, an international metaverse platform with headquarters in Switzerland but with an Italian heart.

Since I was a kid, I’ve always used my creativity to experiment with hardware and software. I have always been fascinated by airplanes, space, science, electronics and computers and, while attending the Aeronautical High School, my passion for electronics and computers became my first real job.

In fact, at the age of 17, I began repairing computers by myself for friends, relatives and schoolmates and I also assembled dozens of computers for a few shops in exchange for small tips.

Meanwhile, before 2000, I managed to complete my first software and sold it to a vending machine company (thanks to my software, the company staff was able to quickly program their machines and, most importantly, to get statistics on the best-selling products with details on time and dates of their dispensing).

Entrepreneurship has always been the driving force in my life: at the age of 18 I founded my first startup, Esaplanet, which was initially imagined as a blog giving its users not only the opportunity to freely express themselves, but also to create web pages and mini-websites independently.

Esaplanet grew quickly but in those years Italy had no venture capital or business angels willing to finance startups, therefore, after the arrival and enormous success of Myspace.com, I decided to stop my project just two years after its birth.

After my first startup, I had different experiences, some positive and some less positive, which made me understand the true meaning of tenacity.

In 2005 I decided to reintroduce an improved version of Esaplanet, called Esaplanet.it – The Cash & Carry of IT, a network of technical experts sharing tips and advice on hardware and software.

I quickly recruit an army of more than 200 experts and, thanks to new investors and direct contacts, we were able to reach the managements of the most important Italian hardware companies.

The idea was very simple: they sold computers and we installed them for their Italian customers. The platform was able to track all service requests and in three years we created a network of over 2,300 technicians in Italy and over 25,000 service requests.

However, due to the low margin on the requests, we couldn’t make big numbers, so my partners and I decided to sell the network to an antivirus distribution company and this was for sure one of the best decisions of my life.

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It was the right time to think of something new, Garoo, a platform meeting most people’s needs of that time: create a website, send emails to customers, organize contacts, issue invoices and allow the accountant to manage them.

During its 8-year life cycle I got into the good books of several giants like Microsoft and found myself working with professionals and multinational companies like AXA, Carrefour and Generali.

All the exposure I had thanks to Garoo led me to participate as a speaker at different conferences around the world (China, US Japan, etc.) and in several Italian universities. Nonetheless, there was still something missing in my entrepreneurial journey…something fun, exciting and characterized by a more futuristic vision: video games and virtual reality!

They had always fascinated me, and I had always known that sooner or later I would have created something in this sector.

In 2018 I realized that I could revolutionize the use of the web by integrating it with virtual and augmented reality systems – and that idea gave birth to The Nemesis project.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

The biggest misconception when it comes to startups is that giving birth to a company means being rich and glorious from the beginning of the story.

I think that ambitious startup projects, like ours, must have excellent collaborators who should be well paid for their work.

However, you also need to consider the possibility to lose time and money with the wrong people, because not every person you meet during the journey will be a valuable asset to your company.

Moreover, another key point besides the salary is allowing employees to work happily and serene.

This happens only when your collaborators are led by a person who doesn’t force them to complete tasks but involves them in any decision a CEO should take, in order to let them realize the importance of their job.

Being a good leader, before being the CEO and Founder of my project, has always been one of the biggest challenges of my life and I’m still working to improve this essential skill day by day.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

If I could go back, I would certainly give myself several tips. The most important one would be to carefully choose the business partners, because a company is like a marriage: divorce is a possibility, but it’s also very painful! My experience with Garoo made me learn this lesson.

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What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

I think that what makes me stand out as an entrepreneur is my passion for challenges: I’ve always wanted to create something new, different and useful. Thanks to my perseverance and creativity, I was able to turn my childhood passions into work.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

Listen to the market: you can’t force the mass market to adopt a technology or embrace a change if people aren’t ready yet. The so-called “right time” is crucial…

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

When in 2004 I had my first approach to Second Life, I was literally thrilled by that platform. It was certainly too cutting-edge for that time and audience, but absolutely brilliant.

I don’t know exactly when I started to think about the metaverse, but, since 2004, I have always thought that sooner or later I would have worked with 3D graphics.

The metaverse is “a digital three-dimensional space that can be explored through an avatar” and in one of my favourite movies, “Tron”, the avatar is right inside this parallel world. No doubt also this movie had a significant influence on the story behind my company.

As soon as I gained experience and developed this idea, I realized that the metaverse could be something more…this input gave birth to The Nemesis: a unique and suggestive place where reality and digital worlds merge together and users could have amazing experiences: live events, concerts, parties and fun challenges with friends.

Where do you see your business in five years?

I’m quite sure that The Nemesis will be the platform allowing users to merge reality and virtual worlds: what will be done in a world, will also be reflected in the other.

The Nemesis will be a platform created by users, a place without borders. This is our vision but it will definitely become reality in less than five years.

In fact, today we can already allow users who purchased a capsule collection in a physical store to have it also within the game.

Another example is with sports: if users regularly run, they will be able to have an increasingly stronger avatar after every real workout and this would allow them to run faster, be stronger and win more metaverse challenges.

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What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

The biggest challenge will be to find the right and fastest way to get the mass market on board this new idea of Web, introducing these new technologies to people.

Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?

Probably, at the moment, the biggest success for The Nemesis is being a platform ready and easy to use.

The main strengths are the high quality of its technology and the fact that the platform is accessible from PC browser or iOS and Android apps, is totally free and its users can play as guests or by signing in with their social media accounts.

Our community is growing fast and we achieved some important milestones without having a well organized marketing campaign, which will start soon, but only thanks to the great experiences we offered to our users.

The Nemesis has a long list of records: we were the first to host a Formula1 GP, a horse competition and live events, such as concerts, etc.

We are the only metaverse where users can use more than 25 vehicles: bikes, motorbikes, flying cars, ships, horses, etc. and where avatars can’t only walk, run and jump, but also fly, swim, climb, etc. for a user experience like no other.

How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?

Firstly, we have been partners for the most important events of our sector but, as I said before, marketing is not our first aim, since we have principally focused on our product and our big community. Therefore, for technology lovers, The Nemesis is already a landmark.

What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

Believe in your ideas and keep going forward. If it’s a good idea, sooner or later you will launch a great project.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

I hope my project will grow further and become even more international and attractive for big companies, which could buy The Nemesis, invest in it and make it the most important new social network of the future.

Follow The Nemesis on Twitter or Linkedin.

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