What do you currently do?
After studying management at Bocconi University in Italy, and a MSc in accounting and finance at London School of Economics, I went on to become a management consulted at Bain & Company. With the knowledge and experience gain from my studies and consultancy position I set up three organisations; GDS Media & Communication, where I currently hold the position of chairman and shareholder, Ulysses Energy, a company which I continue to invest in and assist with the develop of renewable energies in Italy, and Sjsystem, a consultancy and investment company with shares in the restaurant, media, and energy industries. I enjoy working across all three, it keeps me busy and my business mind engaged but I’m an entrepreneur at heart and so I can’t help but keep thinking of new ideas.
My latest business venture is GODO – Sostanza Italiana. Working alongside my co-founder and long-time friend and business partner Amin Bouafsoun, we have mixed our life-time passion for Italian food with an innovative and scalable business model. I invested in a restaurant chain in Italy many years ago, but quickly realised the challenges and difficulties in growing the business to the scale I wanted. Human error and the need to replicate the perfect team with each new restaurant opening was holding the business back, but with GODO we’ve overcome this.
At GODO we use a central London kitchen where we cook Michelin star quality food. We then deliver meals directly to the customer’s door or place of work. Our Michelin star chef, Tommaso Arrigoni, together with his right-hand man Michele Carretta have experimented with each recipe to create delicious Italian favourites perfect for transport. Packaging the pasta in elegant, custom-made glass jars developed by food technicians, GODO ensure that each order is delivered at the optimum temperature and texture. Orders are delivered by Italian ‘brand presenters’ driving customised Fiat 500s or riding Italian scooters. We launched three weeks ago in the City, Mayfair and Canary Wharf and are very satisfied with the initial results. Our customers love the food and recognise the unique differences in the service that we provide.
What is your inspiration behind your business?
I read ‘Three Farmers of Jobra’ by Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen bank, when I was 18 and really resonated with his way of democratizing entrepreneurship. Traditional businesses focus on making money. Social businesses, in contrast, look to solve problems by pursuing the objectives of value creation to our overall environment.
Yunus responded by reaching into his own pockets to finance small loans. Yunus guaranteed these loans because he believed in a simple but powerful truth: every human being is an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is in our DNA. I strongly believe in humans capabilities and I think that everyone has their own talent. When I create a team I strongly believe in diversity. At GODO, for example, my co-founder Amin and I have each brought a mix of diverse skills. This means that together we approach situations slightly differently than if we were to be working along. The result is that our customers benefit from the best possible service. Amin and I have worked hard to find likeminded people to join the GODO team. Our employees all have an entrepreneurial streak and part of their role is to use their creativity and intuition to generate new ideas.
Who do you admire?
In my spare time, I enjoy sailing. I deeply admire Bernard Moitessier, an explorer, navigator, writer and philosopher. In 1968 he participated in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, the first round the world yacht race. With the fastest circumnavigation time, Moitessier was the likely winner but he elected to continue onto Tahiti and not continue on to the finish line in England, rejecting the idea of the commercialization of long distance sailing. One of my favourite books ‘The Long Way’ was written by Moitessier. I admire him because he is the modern Ulysses, he lived for discovery and never stopped challenging himself. Explore, discover and challenge are the words that, as an entrepreneur, always push me to do more. There is always room to improve and come up with new ideas. As Moitessier once said: “I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits”.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I am too young to have regrets. The wake my boat is leaving behind does not concern me: my eyes are looking towards the horizon to foresee which wind will blow next and direct the prow accordingly.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
I would like to quote Mark Twain:
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbour, and catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.“
Every good idea starts with a dream, but only with courage, diligence and persistence do dreams become reality.