Avocado Toast Leads to Hot Brooklyn StartupFOCUS ON A VIABLE AND DEMONSTRATABLE CONCEPT BEFORE SEARCHING FOR INVESTORS, BOCCONI ALUMNUS AND AVOCADERIA FOUNDER ALESSANDRO BIGGI TELLS NEW ENTREPRENEURS
Though the connection is not so obvious, the trendy Brooklyn eatery Avocaderia was actually “Made in Bocconi” back in 2006. That’s when Avocaderia partners Alessandro Biggi and Francesco Brachetti met and became best friends as undergraduates. Their startup “avocado bar” opened its doors in April 2017, and was packed on its very first week. In November they announced their third New York location, and are eyeing expansion to new cities.
“The university experience at Bocconi was 360 degrees, it went beyond academics to relationships and building a network,” says Alessandro Biggi, 31, in an interview with ViaSarfatti25. “We organized everything from parties to a small investment fund to test out the stock market.”
Biggi’s first experience with entrepreneurship came when he was at high school in his home town of Modena, where he created and sold a t-shirt brand called “Be Natural” from his desk as a science student.
“I liked the idea of building a brand and working with people at my high school,” he says. “I’ve always been fascinated by starting my own business and wanted to do it.”
After a year in a finance job at JP Morgan starting in 2010, he worked briefly at Boston Consulting Group, where he created a mobile photo-editing app called Mashup. With the Mashup team he started 20Lines in 2012, an app that lets users and writers share “snackable” short stories which was selected for H-Farm Ventures incubation program. Biggi soon had to quit his day job at BCG. The startup raised a total $800,000 from venture capital funds before the founders sold it to Harper Collins in 2016.
After the sale of 20Lines he went to run another startup, Zooppa, in 2016, an online agency where creatives from around the world produce content, mostly video, for large brands. He now serves as Zooppa CEO in addition to handling people management, branding and communications at Avocaderia. He restructured Zooppa by adding a new business line, Z Production, a platform that brings together professional directors curated by Zooppa with corporate clients looking for the next viral video.
Zooppa now has 400,000 users and it has worked with brands including Nestle, Reebok, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, P&G and Viacom. It has offices in New York City, where Alessandro lives, and in Los Angeles, Venice and Milan.
What’s interesting is at Zooppa right now I get to work with marketing majors who were with me at Bocconi, so this is another example of the network that Bocconi provides,” he says. The idea for Avocaderia grew out of Biggi’s experience living in Seattle when he started at Zooppa.
“The real story is I am very bad at cooking,” he explains. “When I was in Seattle I conducted a healthy lifestyle and I made a lot of avocado toast. So I started thinking about this idea and the first person I started talking about it to was Francesco.”
With $70,000 in seed money from family, friends and their own savings, Alessandro, Francesco and a third partner, Alberto Gramini, 32, found a location in Brooklyn which was affordable and had “a very good vibe.” Their journalist preview resulted in a Business Insider video with 67 million views. Brachetti is CEO.
What advice does Biggi have for entrepreneurs starting out? Firstly, don’t get too obsessed about finding investors at the start. “You should first concentrate on a viable concept and once you have results or something you can demonstrate, you can look for funds,” he says. “So don’t focus too much on fundraising, focus on making the company work.”
Secondly, commit.“I really don’t believe you can start a company when you are still working full time at another company.”
Lastly, and probably most importantly, choose the people you work with wisely.
“You will have to spend a lot of time with that person,” he says. “You need to be able to share an entrepreneurial dream with someone you trust and that you can have an open communication with.”
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by Jennifer Clark