My name is Luca Silvestri.
I’m a civil engineer and when I founded Ecogriddy, back in 2013, the construction market was nearly dead and on a rampant economic downturn. To me that was the perfect moment to innovate: with a lot of free time, many brilliant minds around catching dust and a huge desire to build something from scratch to be proud of. I had no idea what it meant to be an entrepreneur, even less of an idea of what it meant to found a start-up. I was just a highly skilled professional, with experience as a freelancer. I have been always fascinated by technology and the possibilities that modern computing opens up to every industrial sector. Basically, I’m the quintessential of geek. So I knew that my start-up would have involved IT and cloud computing.
As every potential 'startupper' does, I had an idea for a product based on my professional experience with electrical plants and smart grids. I wanted to apply Internet of Things architectural concepts to a smart grid, leveraging on micro scale control opportunities enabled by edge computing and IoT architecture.
At that time I hadn´t clearly figured out how to build a business idea, but I knew from my experience that having a strong skilled team was a good start. I called two dear friends, who are also amazing professionals, Luca Frizzera (a business advisor with experience in insurance and financial products) and Manuel Gubert (an electrical engineer with a long track record in designing and building renewable power plants). Once they had heard about my idea, they were in!
The next step was to incorporate and find a suitable environment to feed my newly born start-up into. The opportunity came from Progetto Manifattura, the first European incubator for green economy related startups. We applied and we were accepted. The first year of Ecogriddy life was spent in building the business idea and learning the concepts and methodologies of lean start-up, validations, business canvas and many other concepts that were totally new to me. I also undertook an intense process of self-teaching in cloud development, state of art in distributed computing and web/mobile development. In that period I was sleeping no more than 5 hours per night, working 7 days per week and experimenting a lot in coding by undertaking side projects to improve my development skills. Oh, and by the way, I was phasing out my previous work as a civil engineer, delivering my last structural projects to my customers.
It was tiring, mentally and physically. But it was one of the best periods of my life, for sure, the most creative and productive one.
The business idea pivoted a lot of time, on product, market, technology. I understood quickly that pivoting is an essential process to develop a successful idea. Around me I saw a lot of startups failing and a lot of entrepreneurs giving up. They had their reasons. I am perseverant and I like to take risks, and even though I rebooted the Ecogriddy business idea several times, I wasn’t discouraged.
2014 was a year that saw a lot of changes: we started to present our idea to several international competitions and we got a lot of honours and mentions. One of the most prestigious one was to reach the final in EIT ICT Labs Idea Challenge 2014 on Smart Energy Systems, getting to the top 10 out of almost 800 proposals EU-27 wide. The team had expanded too, with Ivan Favalezza (a UX / Industrial designer) and Maria Gomes (Social Media Marketing & Communication).
2015 marked a turning point: Ecogriddy was accepted in EIT Digital Business Development Accelerator and was selected up to Phase 3 in Finodex FIWARE accelerator.
Thanks to Finodex funds and mentorship we had the possibility to start a real scale testing and development, validating some technologies, invalidating others, and refining our product and market position, making another most needed pivot required by market validations and feedback from both testers and mentors. It was during Finodex that Cortex became what it is today: a cutting edge easy to use energy analytic, end to end deployed on industrial setups, fully integrated with production data insights and pluggable to other industry related cloud solutions.
Now we are launching Cortex on the market. Taking a product from an idea in 2013 to the market in 2016 has been a long journey, definitely the most exciting time of my life.
It tested my courage, my limits, and my strongest points. It made me a better person and an entrepreneur. I’ve learned more in the last 3 years than in the past 20 years, university included. I’ve sacrificed a lot too. It has been tough. It’s not for everyone. But it’s worthwhile. And it has been possible thanks to a great team and group of friends that have always believed in me and supported me along this journey.
If Cortex is successful, I dedicate that success to them!
Luca Silvestri – Founder & CEO #arroba# Ecogriddy
This is our story, which is yours?